Open Design: Freeware tools for Designers

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Free and Open-Source Software for Designers & Creative People

Sketch is the industry standard for High-fidelity UI/UX design, It is also my favorite tool for the past 4 years, I love the plugins, and the integration with other tools (InVision, Zepplin, etc). But as a UX designer, I also use Adobe products (for design related tasks), and Axure RP (for low-fidelity wireframes, UX architecture, and mockups).

 

But when it comes to Adobe Products, just like many designers out there, I’ve decided to ditch their Eco-System because of their Creative Cloud subscription model. And I have to admit, it won’t be easy to ditch Photoshop, particularly because I worked with this amazing tool ever since I was 12 Years old (I think from version 5 😉 ). In the recent years I have tried Affinity design, and so many Free and Open-Source alternatives to Commercial design tools, and I was really impressed! I have also found out on the web that I’m not alone, many freelance designers, small businesses, and Startups tried open source alternatives, not only because they needed cheap or free alternatives, but because they needed Cross-Platform solution, doesn’t matter if they are freelance designers, small design studios, or even Lean Startups with designer-developer workflows. But can a professional designer rely on Free and Open-Source software?

Well, I have talked with some of my friends and colleagues, and I was surprised by their answers… Most of them are UX and UI designers, so just like me, they are Sketch addicted. They also told me that they wish there was Sketch alternative for Windows, and even though I have suggested them to try Adobe XD for Windows (which I kinda like), they refused to do so because they don’t want to go back to Adobe, and some of them are still on Windows 7 & 8.1 (Adobe XD works only on Windows 10)… And then we talked about some free and Open-Source alternatives, but while there are plenty of alternatives to Adobe Products, unfortunately there aren’t many alternatives to Sketch, which is only for Mac. But there are some open source UI design tools coming up, not to mention professional online tools that are already available, and some of them are even for free.

After so many years as a Mac user, I want to switch from Mac to Linux (that’s a story for different day). In fact, Linux is my secondary OS on my Mac, and on my PC as well. Hence there are so many Linux Distros for designers, my favorites are Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu Mate (with Cupertino UI), and if you are coming from Mac, you’ll definitely love Elementary OS! The point is, when it comes to Free and Open-Source Software, it’s truly Cross-platform and you can use it on any platform, (Mac, Windows, and Linux), so in case you’ve tried Inkscape on a Mac, you’ll be able to use it also on Windows and Linux without any learning curves, and just because it’s FOSS there are no subscription models!

So, are there decent (and free) alternatives for Adobe CC, Sketch, and Axure for the Cross-Platform Eco-systems (Mac, Windows, and Even Linux)?


Let’s start with Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) alternatives to Adobe CC:

Krita — Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe Photoshop (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by Krita.org

 

Gimp — FOSS alternative to Adobe Photoshop (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by Gimp.org

 

Inkscape — Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe Illustrator (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by Inkscape.org

 

DarkTable — Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe LightRoom (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux)

Image by darktable.org

 

LightZone — FOSS alternative to Adobe LightRoom (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by lightzoneproject.org

 

Scribus — FOSS alternative to Adobe Indesign (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by Wikipedia

 

Ardour — Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe Audition (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by ardour.org

 

Audacity — FOSS alternative to Adobe Audition (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by audacityteam.org

 

Synfig Studio— FOSS alternative to Adobe Animate / Flash Pro (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by synfig.org

 

Fusion— Professional and Free alternative to Adobe After Effects (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by blackmagicdesign.com

 

Natron— Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe After Effects (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by natron.fr

 

Kdenlive— Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe Premiere (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by kdenlive.org

 

DaVinci Resolve — Professional and free alternative to Adobe Premiere (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by blackmagicdesign.com

 

OpenShot — FOSS alternative to Adobe Premiere (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by openshot.org

 

Aptana Studio — Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe DreamWeaver (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by alternativeto.net

 

Brackets — Professional and FOSS alternative to Adobe DreamWeaver (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by Ubuntufree.com

 


3D Design (Free and Open-Source):

 

Blender — Professional and FOSS alternative to 3D Studio / Maya (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by blender.org

 

FreeCad— FOSS alternative to AutoCad (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by freecadweb.org

 

LibreCad — FOSS alternative to AutoCad (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by freesoftwarefiles.com

 

Sweet Home 3D — FOSS alternative to Sketchup 3D (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by sweethome3d.com

 

UX and Wire-framing tools:

 

Pencil — The only FOSS alternative to Axure RP (Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Image by alternativeto.net

 

quickMockup — FOSS alternative to Balsamiq / Axure RP / Invision (Available online).

Image by Avi-B.com

 

Balsamiq — Free alternative to Axure RP (Available for Windows, Mac, and it works on Linux via Wine).

Image by Balsamiq

 

Wireframe — Free alternative to Axure RP (Non Open-Source, Available online).

Image by wireframe.cc

 


Free and Open-Source UI design Tools, So are there any alternatives to Sketch?

 

Sketch itself is only available for Mac, and it’s not a Free and Open-Source. But it has a unique Eco-System full with plugins unlike any other tool, Sketch also has integration with other tools and it’s so powerful! But unfortunately there are not many Open-Source alternatives to Sketch yet, but there’s a hope!

Gravit Designer — My favorite alternative to Sketch, although it’s not FOSS (Free and Open-Source) anymore, but at least it’s free of charge and available for the Cross-Platform: Web, Mac, Windows, and Linux! It supports .sketch file format, and it’s not only web based! They don’t force you to subscribe, you can download it and use it just like Sketch, and it even works offline, in case you are working on some Secret / NDA Startup projects and you don’t want to use cloud / web based products (such as InVision, Figma, Marvel, etc).

Image by Avi-B.com

 

Vectr — a simple yet powerful cross-platform graphics editor to bring your designs into reality, it’s free but not Open-Source, and available for the Cross-Platform: Web, Mac, Windows, and Linux. In my opinion it’s not powerful like Sketch, or even as Gravit designer, but it has its advantages, and worth checking out.

Image by Avi-B.com

 

Alva — It’s Free and Open-Source (FOSS) and works with your production frontend components, adding up-to-date, responsive, and interactive designs to your living styleguides. It’s not the best alternative to Sketch and Gravit, but I guess it has its advantages.

Image by meetalva.io

 

Akira — The only Free and Open-Source (FOSS) Sketch Alternative out there! Currently in development, you can follow the development here, and you are also welcome to help the developers since the project is open source!

Image by Alecaddd

 


More free and Online UI Design Tools (Commercial and professional alternatives to Sketch):

 

Figma — It’s the best alternative to Sketch, and just like Google Docs, it’s a web based and powerful cloud solution! It’s a collaborative interface design tool. Enables you to keep the team focused and on the same page with real-time communication and collaboration featuring commercial quality. You have to sign-up in order to use Figma.

Image by Figma.com

 

Marvel — Marvel is a free design and prototyping tool that transforms static design files (Sketch, Photoshop files, etc) and wire-frames into interactive, sharable prototypes that look and feel like real apps and websites.

Image by marvelapp.com

 

InVision — Great prototyping tool, lets you create interactive wire-frames and also high-fidelity prototypes. You can easily share your work and get instant feedback right on-screen. If you are not on Linux, you should definitely check InVision Studio, which is awesome and powerful tool for Mac and Windows users (similar to Adobe XD).

Image by invisionapp.com

In summary:

Finally, when it comes to Free and Open-Source Software and products, it’s so good to see that there are so many designers involved, I remember when I tried Open-Source products 10–15 years ago, everything was so ugly and with a poor design, even most of the Linux distros I’ve tried. But now, there are even Showcase websites for open source projects, for your inspiration…

I’ll keep exploring other alternatives and will update this post from time to time, and you are welcome to let me know in the comments, which free and open source product you use as an alternative to any Commercial products.

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