The Adobe Creative Suite is home to popular design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects, and over the years it has become the industry standard for design software. It’s also pretty pricey – especially if you need to use multiple software packages – with business plans costing as much as £53 per month per user. This can be be prohibitively expensive for people such as students, freelancers who are just starting out, or people who are simply hobbyists. Luckily there are free alternatives.
Free Photoshop alternative – GIMP
Adobe Photoshop is used to create, edit and manipulate bitmap images, and is an essential tool for graphic designers, web developers and photographers.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an image editor that can do a lot of what Photoshop can do. It’s an open-source project that is completely free and is available for Windows and Mac. As with most of the software tools on this list, the user interface may take a bit of adjusting to if you are already familiar with Photoshop, and it may not have all the advanced features, but when comes to editing & exporting images it’ll get the job done.
Free Illustrator alternative – Inkscape
Illustrator is used to create vector images, and is the go-to tool for designing & manipulating things like logos, text, illustrations and diagrams. Along with Photoshop, it’s one of the main tools used by designers and is necessary to create EPS, PDF and AI image documents.
Inkscape allows you to create and edit vector images and is compatible with all the major filetypes mentioned above. As with GIMP, it’s open source, multi-platform and completely free.
Free Dreamweaver alternative – Aptana
If you’re a confident coder, you can simply write your HTML and CSS code in any text editor (such as Notepad) or straight into the back-end of your website via your browser. However many web designers rely on Adobe Dreamweaver to assist them with their coding, as it contains several templates, text-hints, colour-coded text and other features that speed-up the development process.
Aptana Studio is a free, open-source web development engine that looks and works a lot like Dreamweaver.
Free Microsoft Office alternative – OpenOffice
Microsoft Office – it’s the one thing people forget about when buying a new PC and they are often surprised by the price. Although it’s not a design tool like the others on this list, as a freelance designer you will still need to send invoices, receive documents and keep records.
OpenOffice is a software suite that contains free equivalents to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It’s totally compatible with Office – so you will still be able to open files created in the Microsoft versions of the software – and you can save documents in Office-standard filetypes. OpenOffice is completely free to download and use.
There’s no need to use pirated software when there are so many free & legal options out there. If you know of any other good free software packages, let us know about it in the comments.