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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.

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 Arts (AAS)
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).


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Master of Fine Arts: Graphic Design
  • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
  • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
  • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
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  • Online Courses
Graphic Design/Desktop Publishing
ABCO Technology , Inglewood
  • 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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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
Graphic Design (AS)
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid