Many visual artists hit bumps in the road when it comes to submitting their work to shows that require digital submission. I’m going to tell you about three free graphic design software packages you can use to solve your image editing woes. Simple tasks like resizing a photograph or cropping out unwanted background noise can send seasoned visual artists to a paid professional for help, or worse, to the store to purchase an expensive graphic design software package. Recently there have been huge price drops for commercially developed graphic software. GIMP, Scribus and Inkscape are three free options that can simplify the process of building your exposure and getting your artwork to market.
Most artists will find GIMP a great help in common image manipulation tasks
GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free graphic editor similar to Adobe Photoshop that allows you to manipulate your images at the pixel level. Features such as resizing, cropping, editing, combining multiple images and converting between various images formats are supported. Initially, limited support was offered for CMYK, which is required for a designer producing print-quality materials. CMYK support is available using a GIMP plugin. It works on the Mac OS and the PC. It’s a great help to anyone seeking to prepare graphics for e-mail or updating their artist-managed website.
Scribus is a tool to design a promotional postcard or flyer
Scribus is a free professional page layout application that provides many press-ready options for page layout. This free graphic design software application supports scalable vector graphics (SVG), CMYK colors and ICC color management. ICC is a system that creates universal color management across operating systems. That’s something an artist will be concerned about. Scribus is a little more complicated to install. Someone with limited computer literacy should seek a more experienced user before attempting an install. When you consider it’s an affordable compromise to hundreds of dollars you might spend on commercially available products like Adobe PageMaker, QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign, it may be worth enlisting a technically minded friend to do an install for you.
Inkscape is a free graphics tool to keep your eye on for future usage
Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor with aims to become the most powerful graphics tool while remaining compliant to XML, SVG and CSS standards. Its compatibilities are similar to Illustrator and CorelDraw; however it’s still being actively developed. While usable, you may want to check back in six months to a year on this application.
GIMP is easily the most practical and usable of the free graphic design software that will be of great value to a visual artist. Like Photoshop, the user interface may take some time to get familiar with, but after a few clicks you’ll have your image loaded and resized and saved in the correct format for your next submission-all for less than the price of a cup of coffee.