7 Free Resources for Eye-Popping Graphics and Animation

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 20, 2009

A picture will always be worth a thousand words. The good news is that in the open source world, there are many excellent, free graphics and animation tools, plus free resources for getting started with them right away. Whether you want to produce a full-length animated movie, desktop publish good-looking graphical booklets, work more efficiently with Flickr, or create eye-catching logos, check out seven free applications and resources here.

Blender University. This post collects a whopping 25 tutorials you can use to get started with Blender, one of the most popular free, open source 3D animation and graphics applications, for Windows, the Mac and Linux. You can learn how to create a great looking logo, how to execute special effects, and more. Blender has been used to produce striking full-length animated films and is worth getting to know if you haven't tried it.

On-The-Fly Image Editing. IrfanView is one of my main image editors that I reach for, even though I have Photoshop. It loads in an instant, and has a very rich set of tools, including mutlipage TIF support, support for multiple animated GIFs, and you can choose to use a bunch of useful plug-ins. The application isn't open source. It's freeware, but the developers improve it every year and the plug-in community works like an open source community. It's very fast to launch, does great batch image processing, and you may get things done much faster in it than in more bloated graphics applications.

A Free Book on GIMP? In our post "6 Ways to Get Much More Out of GIMP" we collected a number of excellent resources for the powerful, free, open source GIMP graphics application, available for Windows, the Mac and Linux. You'll find a complete, free online book on GIMP, tips on getting plug-ins and more.

Smarter Flickr Sessions. Are you a Linux user who frequently works with images in Flickr? Flickr can often be very slow, and has very limited uploading tools. Check out Kristin's roundup of top uploading applications for Flickr here.

Need a Desktop Publisher? Scribus is a top, free open source desktop publishing application available for Windows, Mac OS/X and Linux. It's useful for PDF creation, and has most professional publishing features found in proprietary products such as InDesign. Linux.com has a nice step-by-step tutorial up on how to create booklets with Scribus. Lisa Hoover also covered some of the best features in Scribus here.

Draw it for Me. Are you looking for free clip art to incorporate with documents, web pages, and desktop publishing materials? Open Clip Art has an archive of user-contributed art that you can feel comfortable using for free.

For Splashy Web Sites. Along the same lines, if you're looking for good graphical templates for web pages, two good places to start are Open Source Web Designs and Open Designs. These sites house thousands of graphical templates, most of them XHTML/CSS-based, that you can use for free.