7 free replacement multimedia tools perfect for budget design
Good Web design requires more than a few beneficial characteristics — dedication, exactness, a keen eye, and good taste, among others — but more than that, it requires designers to have a kit full of tools for crafting eye-catching sites and pages. Unfortunately, some of the most essential pieces of software, including Photoshop, Final Cut, and ProTools, among others, come with price tags most novice designers simply cannot afford. Though the Web was once the place low-budget entrepreneurs headed to get their start, the Internet no longer seems to be a welcoming place for start-ups.
Fortunately, design on a budget is possible online. The following free tools serve as serviceable replacements for the unacceptably expensive software more commonly used for design.
The term “Photoshop” is so common nowadays that it is hard to believe that the full version of this photo editing software is nearly $700. Even monthly subscription fees are often too exorbitant for beginning sites. Fortunately, photo editing is such an essential part of any type of design that dozens of developers have created low-cost and no-cost tools that offer virtually the same services.
1. Splashup. Perhaps the best Photoshop lookalike available, Splashup is confusingly similar to the expensive name-brand photo editing software. There are the drop-down menus, the floating tool palettes, the layer support, and other features in the same locations — except the lofty price tag.
2. Aviary Phoenix Image Editor. Recently acquired by Adobe, Aviary produces superb photo editing software that helps designers create beautiful photos right from their browsers. Like Photoshop, it allows a number of complicated editing processes, like blending, layering, and magic-wanding. Plus, it offers a browser plug-in that helps designers capture and edit images as they explore the Web.
3. SumoPaint. Though it looks like a slightly more complicated version of Microsoft Paint, Sumo Paint is actually surprisingly powerful and extensive. The paint functions alone seem limitless, with hundreds of shapes, sizes, and saturations of brushes. Still, the navigation pane makes it clear that there is much more Sumo Paint can do, including layering, swatching, and more.
Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere
Though more and more people are becoming adept at augmenting photos, video editing remains a mystery to most. That’s why video editing software like Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere can cost so much despite offering few benefits compared to the various free tools on the Web. Video integrated into websites is incredibly popular right now, so it is crucial for beginning designers to master basic editing skills — and Flash video hosting that supports their media.
1. iMovie. Even professional video editors often prefer to work with iMovie, which comes included on most Macs. There are really only a handful of features editors can provide to improve videos, including detachable audio and image stabilization, and iMovie is simple and intuitive software that cuts videos quick.
2. Jaycut. Designers without Macs can still create outstanding videos on the cheap with this online editor. Jaycut provides the basic tools necessary for video editing, including insertable audio, photos, and effects. Though users must register to gain access to this online tool, video editing and saving is free.
ProTools or Adobe Audition
With recording studio time costing anywhere from $50 to $500 per hour, it is no wonder that aspiring audio professionals are looking for cheap, do-it-yourself alternatives, especially now that high-quality, at-home audio equipment is accessible. Still, “professional” audio editing software can cost nearly as much as studio time, which isn’t feasible for the novice Web designer. Fortunately, these free tools deliver as much and more.
1. Audacity. Available for free download, Audacity is almost a carbon-copy of its more expensive competitors. Artists can record directly into the program and edit as they go. This software is excellent for all types of audio, from seconds-long statements to complete music albums.
2. GarageBand. Like iMovie, GarageBand comes packaged on most new Macs, providing audio artists simple editing services from the get-go. Though GarageBand sounds more like a video game than a useful multimedia tool, the tool allows simple editing and is helpful for enhancing audio, like adding photos to podcasts or recorded books.