Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

I hear a lot about Adobe products lately. As I look at the job market for my students at Northern State University, many job descriptions in the E-Learning field list familiarity with Adobe Products as requirements or qualifications for the position. However the individuals that write these descriptions are usually not familiar with free and open-source software (FOSS) alternatives to these programs that can do 80-90% of what the Adobe products do. In some cases, such as Adobe Flash and captivate, it is hard to find a good free/open-source alternative, but in the case of photoshop and illustrator, there are some great programs out there that are absolutely free and very functional that I have used with great success:

Adobe Photoshop alternatives

GIMP has been around for years, yet there seems to be relatively little knowledge of its existence among E-Learning professionals. GIMP is the ultimate photoshop alternative, offering fine-grained photo enhancement, retouching, cropping etc. features.

Google Picasa -
Picasa is a great photo organizer/editor similar to iPhoto (but free and open source). It doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of GIMP but it does offer quick and easy photo enhancement, retouching and cropping and the most recent version offers new image filters for fun photo effects.

Adobe illustrator alternative

Inkscape -
Inkscape is an excellent vector graphics editing software package. It is my go-to application to help me design and edit graphics for E-Learning projects.  I recently used inkscape to create some icons for a touch screen project and it worked very well:

These FOSS applications don't have all of the bells and whistles that the Adobe versions have, but in the end it doesn't matter what tools you used to create your e-learning project, as long as it is effective!

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