My favourite free/open-source applications for digital designers

This is a collection of applications that I have no problem recommending based on my experience using them. Some applications, like Paint.net and OpenSCAD, I no longer use regularly due to upgrading to Photoshop and Fusion360 respectively, but they’re excellent when I need to perform an action quickly without bloated software getting in the way.

I’ll make sure to update this list if I remember anything else to add. Also check out My favourite free online resources for agile design article.

Image Editing

Photopea
https://www.photopea.com/
An impressive web app recreation of photoshop, great for when you need to use powerful features but don’t have access to photoshop. Contains ads.

Paint.net
https://www.getpaint.net/
Basic image editor, think of it as a photoshop-lite. Completely free and still receiving updates at the time of publishing. I used Paint.net a significant amount before I had access to Photoshop, which is now my go-to image editor. I still use Paint.net sometimes for basic editing.

3D Design Things

Blender
https://www.blender.org/
Open-source 3D creation suite. Supports entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and 2D animation pipeline. Excellent for creating professional product renders.

OpenSCAD
https://www.openscad.org/
“CAD for programmers”. Features competent scripting functionality that remains unseen in industry-grade CAD software. Completely free, yearly updates.

Google Poly
https://poly.google.com/
Not an application, but has support for Unity and Unreal at https://developers.google.com/poly/ . This is Googles solution to making AR and VR easier to develop for by providing community-driven 3D objects.

Video

DaVinci Resolve
https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/
Veeery powerful “Hollywood-grade” video editor. Also has a paid version with more features. I haven’t used DaVinci resolve very much compared to the other applications on this page, but I’ve heard many good things about it.

Blender (again)
https://www.blender.org/
See above for more info.

HandBrake
https://www.openscad.org/
Powerful open-source video transcoder. Perfect for converting and compressing videos.

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