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Graphic Artist Loves Open Source

29 Dec

Are you an starving artist looking for some affordable digital tools? We’ve posted before about open source software. However, I just have to jump in again and focus on Graphic Designing with Open Source. I work on a Mac, PC and even an Ubuntu Linux box. Professional Graphics Software isn’t cheap. So I let my Boss buy it for work. Adobe is great, and pricey. My heart is with the following software. All available for all platforms I use.


Inkscape (Illustrator equivalent)


  • The Best Auto trace anywhere.
  • SVG native format- (one of Illustrators default save options)
  • PDF editing well underway- not fully implemented
  • Diagraming tool works great for planning websites


  • Color Swatches are not currently able to be saved in direct manner. No Built in Pantone support ( but that is just a matter of specifying the proper Pantone number for printing)


Gimp (Photoshop equivalent)


  • It’s free
  • Regularly updated with fixes and the latest features
  • Strong community
  • Runs smoothly on almost every platform
  • Customizable with plugins and scripts
  • Handles almost any format including: bmp, gif, jpeg, mng, pcx, pdf, png, psd, svg, tiff, tga, xpm


  • Newest version can be buggy
  • No 16-bit per channel color support
  • Feature development is slow


Scribus (InDesign equivalent)


  • It’s free
  • PDF compressing is quality
  • Works well on Windows
  • It is a lightweight program


  • Lacks the “spell check”
  • Need to keep the pictures integrated in your document in the same location on your computer or you’ll lose them
  • Doesn’t look pleasant when switching fonts
  • Runs slow with multiple pages or large files
  • Navigation needs to be updated
  • Not enough intuitive
  • Documentation is incomplete


Blender (Maya equivalent)

The pros:

  • It’s free
  • Features animation, rigging, fluid simulations, UV mapping, and more
  • Export blender files to different file formats
  • Render with your gpu instead of cpu

The cons:

  • Slow viewport performance with high-poly scenes
  • Layers system is not intuitive at times

Need Photoshop or Illustrator?

5 Sep

Are you an aspiring graphic artist or web designer? The industry standard is the Adobe Creative Suite, but you may not have the necessary income to afford the software in the cloud. Adobe does offer the CS2 Creative Suite for a free download. These products including Photoshop and Illustrator were released more than seven years ago and do not run on many modern operating systems. Adobe also no longer supports them. However, if you want to get your feet wet and start dabbling in the world of Photoshop and Illustrator, consider downloading these free versions.

Find the link for CS2



Microsoft eBooks for Free 

27 Jul

Did you know that you can get free Microsoft eBooks? Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Sales, posted on his blog that they are giving away millions of dollars of free Microsoft eBooks again. The books include: Windows 10, Office 365, Office 2016, Power BI, Azure, Windows 8.1, Office 2013, SharePoint 2016, SharePoint 2013, Dynamics CRM, PowerShell, Exchange Server, System Center, Cloud, SQL Server and more! There are some really good titles for all levels and most are available in a variety of formats (pdf, epub, mobi, etc). Thanks to Dan Hanson for the lead.

Here’s the link:

Free Screen Capture Program

5 Jul

I found a great free screen capture program for both PC and Mac called TinyTake. The best part of the program is that it can not only capture pictures but it can also grab video. I was able to snag screenshots of a website for a report and get the entire scroll area. I was then able to zoom in on only sections of the screen too and export it in various formats.

Get Your Cheat Sheets Here

4 May

I stumbled upon this great site that contains every computing quick reference guide you can think of known to the human race. The site says, “All cheat sheets, round-ups, quick reference cards, quick reference guides and quick reference sheets in one page. The only one you need.” The site is truly extensive and has information from AJAX to Illustrator to Photoshop to Visual Studio to Zen Coding.

Need Software, No Cash?

5 Mar

Before making the next big software purchase, check out Source Forge.

You just might be surprised what you don’t have to pay for.

My Home Computers run Win XP, at work its Mac OSX. I even run Ubuntu at times. Sourceforge has software for everybody.

I needed to convert some video files and then make a DVD. At Work the Mac has built in options. At Home I needed solutions. I was able to find open source software at for converting my video files and make the DVD with menus.

Everything was found, installed and going within a half hour.

George Jetson here I come.

Fonts out of your own handwriting!

3 Mar

If you like fonts as much as I do, then why not get a font made from your own handwriting? The Font Generator can take your John Hancock and turn it into something you can share with the world. As long as your follow their process to a “T”, you will can your free font the same day. You will need to write out each letter of the alphabet in upper and lower case inside a restricted area on their template. Here are the steps…

  1. Print Template
  2. Complete Template
  3. Scan & Save Template
  4. Upload Template
  5. Preview Your Font
  6. Download
  7. Install & Use

Free MP3 Download from Schick

8 Dec

Hey music fans, you can get a free MP3 download for a limited time if you visit Schick’s music site and enter the code “SCHICKROCKS08”. If you purchase a specially marked Schick pack you can get 8 bonus downloads. You can choose from over 200,000 songs. Happy Holidays!

Gmail Users – Try Mail Goggles!

3 Nov

I learned the hard way a few years ago about sending emails in the heat of the moment. Before I send out a big email, I generally save it in my draft box, let it simmer, and send it out later. This method of saving for later led to many drafts in my inbox, but it has made me certainly craft better emails. Now Google has created Mail Goggles to prevent you from sending that message you shouldn’t send.

Inside your Gmail “Setup”, under the “Labs” tab you will see the option to enable this feature. You have the opportunity to define what time of the day you want Google to ask if you if you really want to send this email.

By the way, if you don’t have a Gmail account, you are missing out on one of the best free products on the market. I would highly recommend signing-up for a Gmail account; you will never go back to your old email system.

Power Achiver the alternative to ZIP

6 Oct

The other day I tried opening a “zip” file and my trial WinZip program had expired. I then found out about “Power Achiver” from a friend which is a free file extraction tool. The software will not only open up ZIP files, but works on many other file formats.

I have added this program to Leading Hands’ list of open source programs.

Download Power Archiver