Adobe equivalent Free Open Source Software

by | Aug 20, 2019

I’m sure most people have used or at least heard about the Adobe product Photoshop.  In this blog I’m going to be looking at some of the programs that are offered by Adobe (the makers of Photoshop) and find free software that will fill the same purpose.
To get started with I’m going to look at Photoshop partially because of the popularity of the program and partly because it’s the first of the programs I’m going look at on the Adobe launcher.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is a versatile tool used by photographers and digital artists to make stunning works and come with a wide range of tools and different window set ups for different styles and types of work. All the tools that come in Photoshop are backed up by Adobe’s well-constructed user guides. But at the cost of $31.35 AUD a month it’s a bit steep for a single program if you just need it for the occasional task.  Of course there are packages with multiple apps that bring the price down, but still a lot if you are not using it more than every now and then.

Photoshop Layout Options


Photoshop Layout


Photoshop Tools


GIMP – the Photoshop alternative

The most used free open source software (FOSS) that is equivalent to Photoshop is a program called GIMP, standing for GNU image manipulation program. With GIMP fitting the same market as Photoshop there are a lot of similarities in tool available and layout, however, a big difference is in the open source nature of GIMP. The open source nature of GIMP has given it the added bonus of having plugins being created by the community, this means that if you find something you can’t do that you need to do you may be able to find a plug in to fill the gap in GIMP.

GIMP tools


GIMP Layout


Adobe Illustrator

The second Adobe design tool I’ll be looking at is one I use almost every day, Illustrator.  This program is for digital artists as well as graphic designers and is used for everything from logos, to drawing and working with typography. Illustrator creates Vector images opposed to the bitmap images that Photoshop works with. Vectors can be resized to any size without distortion.  It is because of this that Illustrator is used for icons and logos. As this is an Adobe program there is a good amount of documentation to go with it. At the same price point as Photoshop it’s still at that point of not worth it for the little things.

Illustrator Tools


Illustrator Windows


Illustrator Layout


Inkscape – the Illustrator alternative

The FOSS equivalent of Adobe Illustrator that I found is called Inkscape. Inkscape has a smaller tool set than Illustrator but has all the basic tools needed to do the work you need to do, this is added by the documentation by both the Inkscape creators themselves and the community of dedicated users.  Much like GIMP and other open source programs Inkscape has many users creating extensions that can fill gaps you find in the program.

Inkscape Layout


Inkscape Extensions


Inkscape Tools


Adobe InDesign

Now onto a program I have had only a small amount of experience using, InDesign. Used for layout design InDesign is used to create things such as flyers, brochures, newsletters, books and many other things. As with all the Adobe tools there is documentation to help you find out about the tools and processes. I have used this program very little compared to my time with other Adobe products but I found it easy to get used to and over all very simple to get what I needed out of it.

InDesign Layout


InDesign Tools


InDesign Layout Options


Scribus – the InDesign alternative

The FOSS equivalent I found for InDesign is called Scribus.  This, as with all the programs in this blog Scribus is heavily community driven. Scribus has a lot of documentation to help users get the hang of how the program works. The thing about doing layout work is you should already have all the images and text ready to go so its just a matter of bringing it into your layout program and arrange everything how you want it so there is not the need for a huge amount of tool like in other programs so from my quick overview of Scribus it seems to have all the basic tools you need to get things done.

Scribus Layout


Scribus Tools

Here is where I shall finish for the time being, however with many more Adobe products to go over and more options for FOSS equivalents, I shall carry on with this another time.
For now, go make pretty pictures.

Steven Morrison is a design innovation grad who’s part of the team here at OptimalBI, so you’ll find him squirreling away working on stuff that helps make us look good.  Connect with Steven on LinkedIn, or read some of our other data viz blogs.

  1. dangerdavelane

    Thanks for this list Steven! This is very similar to what we recommend at the NZ Open Source Society, so it’s good to see that we’ve arrived at the same recommendations! Just one note: strictly speaking none of the software you described (GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus) is “freeware” – more specifically, it’s all “free and open source software” (aka FOSS) where the source code is made available. Strictly speaking “freeware” is just free of cost, not FOSS. It’s a vital distinction, because freeware is often used to suck people into using proprietary products which, eventually, do them a disservice, e.g. saving their files in proprietary formats that can only be read by the software (which often doesn’t stay gratis forever). The key with FOSS (which all three applications you refer to are) is that the user is guaranteed that they’ll always have access to the code which is required to access their digital creations. That’s hugely more valuable than mere freeware.

    • Steven Morrison

      Thanks for that Dave, I had no idea that FOSS was a term i’m still new to the world of open source myself but i’m glad to know such a thing exits. I have made some changes in the blog to reflect your comment

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