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Free Design Software for Your Education and Development

Graphic Design Software
The standards in the graphic design and publishing industries are Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, InDesign, PageMaker, and Dreamweaver. These software tools are essential for many designers, artists, illustrators, and media professionals in producing content.

Graphic Design

A quick tally of the cost of all these programs is staggering if you are on a limited budget. If you are a student or individual thinking about attending a graphic design college, you may want to experience some of these programs to see if you have the ability and talent to use the software. But then, the factor of high cost comes in once again.

The Alternatives
For students or perspective students investigating a career in graphic design or media, there is a free and legal alternative in using free design software. These programs can allow you to experience and get familiar with the process of using applications that are similar in nature to the "big guns" of design programs.

gimpGIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free image authoring and photo retouching software program very similar to Photoshop in features and operation.

It supports the operating systems XP, Vista, Mac OS X, and Linux. GIMP has an active community which helps to improve the program through plugins and add-ons. GIMP is free of charge and is supported by donations from its users.

inkscapeINKSCAPE is an "Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format," according to the description found on Inkscape's website.

Inkscape is a full featured editor that supports markers, clones, alpha bending, and other operations that allow for advanced graphics manipulation.

nvuNVU pronounced "N-View" is a web authoring system that is similar in nature to FrontPage and Dreamweaver. It allows you to edit HTML pages.

NVU has a number of extensions and is community supported in its development. The developers of NVU say that creating web pages with their software is as easy as using a word processor.

scribusSCRIBUS is an impressive professional desktop publishing program that is similar to PageMaker. It supports CMYK color, ICC color management, color separations, Spot Colors and PDF authoring.

Help Support the Developers and Their Work
These programs are freely available for download and are free of charge.

The quality of these applications is astonishing once you realize that the efforts behind these design programs have been fueled with voluntary time, resources, and research.

Donations to the developers of these applications will help them to continue to expand and improve their products. Don't forget to show your appreciation by sending in your donation.

You may not be able to afford to buy the big name software design programs, but the ones listed here are pretty close to the mark. As you prepare to go to the graphic design school of your choice, these free applications may help you to understand the basics of software design tools.


Schools and Colleges offering design degrees:

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Graphic Design/Desktop Publishing
ABCO Technology , Los Angeles
  • An accredited computer training academy preparing students to enter the IT industry as Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Web Apps Developer, Website Designers, Programmers, Database Administrators since 2000.
  • Holds A+ certification from CompTIA.
  • Located in Los Angeles, approximately 10 minutes away from LAX.
  • Flexible class schedules offered during day times, evenings and weekends.
  • Helping students start a career in technology within 3 - 9 months.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Military friendly school.
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  • Financial Aid
Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Media Arts with concentration in 3-D
Give your career a boost with an education from Southern New Hampshire University. We offer certificates, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in over 100 programs in a wide variety of subjects.
  • Online Courses
Graphic Design
Platt College , Alhambra
Good for Working Adults
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Graphic Design and Animation
Good for Working Adults
  • Offers career-focused programs in allied health, business, and computer technology, and more.
  • On-the-job training available through externships, internships, and clinical placements.
  • Graduates in good standing can take refresher sessions in courses at no additional cost.
  • Day and evening class options are available for flexible scheduling.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).
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  • Flexible Scheduling
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Graphic Arts (AAS)
Stevens-Henager , Salt Lake City
  • Gives students a new laptop they can keep as a gift upon graduation.
  • Provides students the opportunity to save up to $5,000 on their degree with Fresh Start Scholarships.
  • Offers monthly start dates so students can choose when their program begins.
  • Students can earn an Associate's degree in as few as 15 months or Bachelor's degree in as few as 30 months.
  • A private, nonprofit college founded in Ogden-West Haven, Utah, in September 1891.

Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

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  • Flexible Scheduling
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