There are a great range of open source tools out there for creating 2D and 3D graphics, to help you create stunning visuals for your website development or livening up your presentations. Here are some of the most widely used tools.
Inkscape is an open source 2D drawing tool that helps you create graphic designs, from simple buttons and logos to full blown posters and web page designs. Inkscape is similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw and gives you a vector based graphics tool that uses the W3C Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format.
Inkscape is easy to use, although learning the tricks that make designing a web site look great are more involved. Here is a book review for a new book about Inkscape.
I do find it helpful to quickly sketch out what I want the poster to generally look like. I also found that using separate layers for background images, text boxes and text helped when building up more interesting designs.
Once I’ve created my posters I can save them as a standard Adobe pdf file. You can of course save them as postscript as well as lots of other formats too.
According to the Inkscape site:
“Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more. There is also a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development.“
There is a great online guide to using Inkscape called Inkscape: Guide to a Vector Drawing program which is also available as a book.
There are more features I’d like to learn with Inkscape, to make even better posters, but it shows how good the tool is in that I can be productive so quickly. Have a look at the Inkscape advanced tutorial for making your posters even more snazzy.
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