Free design packages

16 Aug

Slightly unglamourous post this, but if any of you, like me, want to be able to create things like stationary, banner images, or even just edit photos easily, then hopefully this will prove useful!

At work, I have some fantastic design software on my computer at work. I don’t think that Adobe Photoshop and InDesign can really be beaten – they are the best packages out there, full stop.  Not being a professional designer, I don’t use them at nearly their full capacity, but they do everything I ever need them to do, and are pretty easy to use as well.


Unfortunately both packages are prohibitively expensive for a non-professional like me. I want to be able to easily edit images and text, but at the moment, I just don’t have hundreds of spare pounds to spend on software. What’s a girl to do?

Well, after some research online, I have found a few alternatives.  If you want to do simple photo editing, there are lots of great sites that allow you to do this for free through your web browser. Sites like Piknik and SplashUp are basic, but really useful. You won’t find all the complexity you get in installed software, but you do get some advanced features like layers.

My preferred options are GIMP, for photo and image editing, and Scribus for text layout and design.  Both have a lot of frustrating points (the professional software has FAR more user-friendly menus, for example), but should you ever need to do any kind of graphic design or desktop publishing, and you don’t have the budget to spend on pricey software, they are really handy alternatives.

I found that the image editing was easy to do using the online tools, but laying out text was very tricky and I could never get it quite right. GIMP and Scribus work together, which is great, and although it took a bit of fiddling about to work out how to use them (okay, I am still fiddling about to work out how to use some elements), I think they could prove really useful in the future.

I even designed my first round of wedding stationary, the Save the Dates cards, on them! Another post on that soon…


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