Free and Opensource Art Software for PC, Mac and Linux

After my talk to BAS last night I received several requests for information on the software I described. Rather than just email the information, I have put it on the web so that it remains easy to find. This is a forum and therefore an invitation to contribute! Let's have your responses.

Free software and Open Source software are related philosophical concepts. The important freedom is "Free as in Free Speech" although "Free as in Free Beer" is more instantly attractive. The software described below is both. Incidentally this whole website runs on free / open source software.

MyPaint is bitmap or raster software. It aims to mimic natural media. Its slightly odd web address is easy to find by a web search should you ever need this. From there you will find the download page. The grass effect I used requires extra brushes from Ramon2. Instructions are at the bottom of that page.

The GIMP is a very well established bitmap program with an emphasis on photo retouching or post processing of digital art. It can nevertheless be used to create digital art. The download page does have links for Windows versions, but you may need to click the "show other downloads" link to see them. The help file / user manual needs to be installed separately, from the links at the bottom of the page.

The GIMP has an extensive collection of "plugins" - extra bits of software to add features. Save for Web is very useful if you want to upload photos to the Web, it helps choose colours and file sizes of .jpg files.

GIMP Paint Studio adds more painting features to The GIMP and is written by one of the authors of MyPaint. This site is a bit user hostile. At the time of writing the file you want is GPS 2_0 and clicking the link should download it. Introduction and installation instructions are provided in the wiki. It is worth the effort.

Inkscape is a vector drawing package. The download is straightforward and I have not needed any add-ons. Vector drawing is widely used for commercial art, but it is less obvious that it can be used for painterly effects. The Gallery will help you!

Documentation, tutorials and examples for all these programs can be found with a little searching. MyPaint and The GIMP are often used together. There are many other useful programs too.