Creating Comics: Open Source Design Software

For the financially challenged amongst us, artist John Ridgway created this list of a number of free programs you may find useful when it comes to working with or creating digital images.

Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Official site: www.gimp.org

Available for: Windows, Mac

A program similar to Photoshop. Lacks the high-end features in Photoshop that I never use anyway. A bit clunky on text handling.

Note: Running GIMP on Mac OS X requires Apple’s X11 environment. It is included on the “Optional Installs” package on the OS X install disk.

Mypaint

Official site: http://mypaint.intilinux.com

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

A good little program somewhat similar to Painter. At present only exports in png and jpg formats (as well as saving in its own native format). Png files can be saved automatically as layers, but each layer is a separate file. These files can then be loaded into Gimp (or Photoshop) and combined.

Draftsight

Official site: http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/free-cad-software/

Available for: Windows, Mac

A good CAD program.

Blender 3D

Official site: http://www.blender.org/download/get-blender/

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

A very good 3D program with comprehensive particle system, animation system and excellent compositing ability. A little difficult to get into, but well worth the effort. Good range of import and export facilities (including obj format).

Bryce 7

Official site: http://www.daz3d.com/products/bryce/bryce-what-is-bryce/

Available for: Windows, Mac

This is available for free at the moment. Very good for scenery, skies etc. Models can be built using analytical primitives (i.e. spheres, cylinders, cubes, torii etc). Object in obj can be imported.

POVRay

Official site: http://povray.org/

Available for Windows, Mac, Linux

This is a text-based modeller. (A scene description is written as a series of object descriptions). Native objects are analytical primitives (you will be amazed at how many different shapes can be described mathematically). Other objects can be imported as mesh objects via Poseray. The Mac version works on older versions of the Mac OS

Poseray

Official site: https://sites.google.com/site/poseray

This is a utility for converting obj and 3ds files to Povray format. It is also helpful in correcting some obj files which will not import into programs such as Vue and Terragen 2.

POVRay Galaxy Include (Galaxy.inc)

Official site: http://www.povray.org/resources/links/POV-Ray_Include_Macro_and_Object_Files/Include_Files/

A utility to create  starfields from random seeds for use in POVRay. (The images created can then be used in Blender 3D as backgrounds).

Arbaro

Official site: http://arbaro.sourceforge.net/

Tree generator. Originally developed  as Tomtree by Tom Aust for use in POVRay, the program creates trees to specification in POVRay and obj formats.

Makehuman

Official site: http://www.makehuman.org

Available for Windows, Mac, Ubuntu

A program similar to Poser. Perhaps not so sophisticated yet, but producing figures that can be imported into Blender and sculpted to any requirement.

Pencil

Official site: http://www.pencil-animation.org

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

2D animation program

Celestia

Official site: http://www.shatters.net/celestia

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

Astronomy program, which can be used for technically accurate backgrounds.

Celestia Motherlode

Official site: http://www.celestiamotherlode.net

Repository of image maps for planets and spacecraft  (real and imaginary).

DaVinci Resolve Lite

Official site: http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linuix

Professional standard compositing software.

LuxRender

Official site: http://www.luxrender.net/en_GB/index

Available for: Windows, Mac, Linux

A rendering program for 3D graphics with physically correct image synthesis.

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