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What is open-source software?

Open source software (OSS) is computer software that is made available for distribution at no cost to the pubic by the author or authors. License is granted to allow you to change, distribute, and use the software for any purpose. This not only creates a collaboratively produced tool, but it is estimated that OSS saves consumers 60 billion dollars a year (Standish Group Press Release, 2008-04-16). Some well-known OSS for bloggers are WordPress (which powers this website) and Joomla!, but you may be less aware of software tools available for people interested in drawing and animation.

Note: Comments in quotations below are from the software’s website.

Note: I have NOT had personal experience with all of these programs, and so inclusion in this list does not mean I endorse them. All software has issues (some more than others, of course), but you have nothing to lose but a bit of your time by testing these out as they are free to download.

Drawing & graphics software


What it is: A vector based drawing program. “Whether you are an illustrator, designer, web designer or just someone who needs to create some vector imagery, Inkscape is for you!”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Where to get it:


What it is: Image editor and bitmap drawing program. “Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Where to get it:


What it is: A 3D modeling application. You can build 3D models, export them as .OBJ files, then import those into some 2D and 3D animation programs. You cannot animate objects within Wings 3D. If you’re interested in 3D animation, see the information about Blender below.

“Wings 3D is an advanced subdivision modeler that is both powerful and easy to use … Wings 3D offers a wide range of modeling tools, a customizable interface, support for lights and materials, and a built-in AutoUV mapping facility.”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux, Unix

Where to get it:

Animation software


What it is: 2D animation program. “Synfig Studio is a free and open-source 2D animation software, designed as powerful industrial-strength solution for creating film-quality animation using a vector and bitmap artwork. It eliminates the need to create animation frame-by frame, allowing you to produce 2D animation of a higher quality with fewer people and resources”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Where to get it:


What it is: 2D animation program. OpenToonz is based on the software Toonz, “which was developed by Digital Video S.P.A. in Italy, customized by Studio Ghibli, and has been used for creating its works for many years. Dwango launches this OpenToonz project, in cooperation with Digital Video and Studio Ghibli.”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X

Where to get it:

Go here for manuals and tutorials in English:


What it is: 3D animation program. “Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation.”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Where to get it:

Editing and related software


What it is: Video editing software. “Through the MLT framework, Kdenlive integrates many plugin effects for video and sound processing or creation. Furthermore Kdenlive brings a powerful titling tool, a DVD authoring (menus) solution, and can then be used as a complete studio for video creation. …Being based on the powerful FFmpeg libraries, Kdenlive can use almost any audio and video formats directly without the need to convert or re-encode your clips.”

OS supported: Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Linux, OS X, [Currently working on a Windows version]

Where to get it: