My Creative and Budget Friendly Toolbox List

Creative Tool ListFirst of all I am not an artistically creative person.  However I do aspire to be one, at least, in the digital world. And not being a creative in art, but loving the idea of doing it, has always made it hard for me to justify the cost of the tooling for “dabbling” in that world. Recently I have discovered several tools that are either free or have a very lost cost of entry, at least in the dollar sense. So if you are a creative person who would like to get into digital art but can’t afford tools like the Adobe Suite. Here is my creative and budget friendly toolbox list with a brief description of that the tool will help you get done.

  • Davinci Resolve A professional quality video and sound editor. There is a free version available, which contains a ton of great features and is probably enough for most people who are just getting started in digital creative.
  • Davinci Fusion A program for creating visual effects, 3D, VR and other motion graphics. Free and pay versions are available.
  • Blender A 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.
  • Unity A cross-platform game engine used to develop video games for PC, consoles, mobile devices and websites. See the Unity 3d site for use restrictions but at the time of this post it is free if you company makes less then 100K in annual gross revenue.
  • Snagit A lightweight tool for capturing screen shots and doing screen casting. It is not free but the cost is very reasonable.
  • Visual Studio A tool for building desktop applications, websites, and mobile applications that run on all the major platforms. There is a community version that is free for small teams.
  • VS Code is a streamlined (cross platform) code editor with support for development operations like debugging, task running and version control. It aims to provide just the tools a developer needs for a quick code-build-debug cycle and leaves more complex workflows to fuller featured IDEs.

Edit 10/27/2017: A couple of days after I put this post up I was made aware of three more open source creative applications (for people on a budget). I haven’t used any of these three, yet, so I won’t comment on them but they do look like a good fit for this list.

  • Gimp is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
  • Inkscape is a professional quality vector graphics software. It is used by design professionals and hobbyists worldwide, for creating a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and web graphics.
  • Scribus is an open source page layout application with professional desktop publishing features.

Edit 11/6/2017 One more to add. It is an audio editor that I haven’t had a chance to use yet but a good friend of mine uses it all the time to edit audio files.

  • Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing.

Edit 1/2/2018 I have two more to add today.

  • OBS Studio (Open Broadcast Software) is a free, open source, cross platform software for video recording or live streaming.
  • OpenShot is a free, open source, cross platform video editing software package.

Edit 1/5/2018 Adding one more to the list.

  • Daz 3D is a Powerful 3D Composition & Rendering Software that create photo realistic results.

All of these with the exception of Snagit can be overwhelming for people who are just getting started. So if you are someone who would like to collaborate on these tools and the type of projects that you can do with them. Please contact me. I would love to create a community of digital creative types (especially but not necessarily around the South West Michigan area). A Creative Tool User Group, so to speak.

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