Graphics freebies give Adobe dominance a
run for its money
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
June 5-11, 2007; issue 919
High Tech Office
Two weeks ago
we looked at the release of Adobe’s new Creative Suite 3 versions of
Photoshop and its companion programs for graphics, print and web
publishing. Powerful industry standards, but at a price – CS3’s design
premium package will cost US$1,799 or so. Last week’s column
looked at more affordable
alternatives from Corel and from Adobe itself.
are also a growing number of free graphics and publishing alternatives,
often available in feature-equivalent versions for Windows, Linux and
Mac OS X. Graphics and publishing professionals will probably stick
with the high-priced spread, but if you find Adobe’s CS3 prices
daunting, some free alternatives worth considering include:
• The GIMP
image editor offers most of the power of Photoshop, including filters
and effects, layers, RAW photo support and the ability to work with
files saved in Photoshop’s PSD file format. The Gimpshop
add-on makes its menus and toolbars more Photosho-like.
is Windows-only and less powerful than the GIMP (no RAW
support, for instance), but many users will find it easier to use.
aims to be a replacement for CS3’s Adobe Illustrator to create
diagrams, logos, maps, drawings and more.
you need to create Adobe Acrobat-style PDF files, there are many free
options, at least if you don’t need Acrobat’s high-end features. I
routinely install the free CutePDF
on Windows systems.
Like CS3’s Dreamweaver, the free KompoZer
lets users create and edit web pages without needing to immerse
themselves in raw HTML code.
Flash animations are common online; Synfig Studio
offers a free alternative to Adobe (formerly Macromedia) Flash.
Installing it can be challenging, and it has a relatively steep
learning curve, but then so does Flash.
Adobe’s InDesign has been increasingly successful at challenging Quark
XPress for print page design. Scribus
is less full-featured but free. It uses the GIMP for image editing and
imports documents from the free OpenOffice.org, making free software
more than the sum of its parts. Also free and worth noting: Jahshaka
these programs are just a Google-search away. While bundled spyware has
made many users understandably wary of so-called free software, these
can all be downloaded and installed worry-free.
Just starting to sprout up: free online photo-editing services.
(pronounced “photo”). It can open photos on your local drives or
virtually any online photo, but doesn’t support Photoshop-style PSD
images. Options include most standard image editing tools, layer
support and a growing list of filters and effects. Images are limited
to a maximum of 1,000 x 1,000 pixels, and there’s no option to print,
at least from within Fauxto.
has fewer features, but includes integration with the popular Flickr
online photo site. As well, it seems to work with images regardless of
size. A premium (i.e. paid) service with more editing options is in the
limits free bandwidth to 25 megabytes per month, but uploaded photos
are compressed and scaled, making it possible to work with a bunch of
them within this limit. .
Other online image editing services include Pixenate
Adobe is promising a free (ad-supported) online image editing service
next fall. Details have not been announced, but expect it to build on
the Photoshop brand.