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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 & Web Design (BFA)
  • Online and Bachelor's programs include B.S. in Advertising, B.S. in Web Design, B.A. in Interior Design, and more
  • Curriculum focus on preparing students for a creative career by teaching them the fundamentals of advertising and design
  • Students can choose from courses that cover areas such as advertising concepts, art direction, experience design, and online marketing
  • Over 50 locations nationwide, with a student support team dedicated to helping students grow
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Design
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
A.S. - Digital Design
Good for Working Adults
  • 5 campus locations across Florida.
  • The place for students who want quality career training in the growing fields of allied health, business, design, education, information technology, legal studies, nursing and technical trades. 
  • Member of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC).
  • FAPSC includes over 1,000 licensed, private career colleges all over the state of Florida, and prepares students in over 200 fields.
  • FAPSC members experience several benefits, including exclusive resources and discounts for FAPSC hosted events and programs.
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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
BFA, Graphic Design
Berkeley College , Little Falls
Good for Working Adults
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in 2015 by the U.S. News & World Report.
  • Admits students throughout the year with quarterly start dates in January, April, July, and September.
  • Provides faculty-monitored internships or job-related assignments.
  • Offers associate and bachelor degree programs in business, design, health, plus certificate programs in practical nurse, medical assistant, and more.
  • Preparing students for professional and personal success since 1931.
  • More than $64 million in Berkeley College grants and scholarships provided during the 2015-2016 award year
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  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
Graphic Arts - Information Design (BS)
CollegeAmerica , Flagstaff
  • A private, nonprofit college investing in its students since 1964.
  • Gives students a new laptop they can keep as a gift upon graduation.
  • Has seven campus location plus online degree programs offered through their partner Stevens-Henager College.
  • Lets students choose when their program begins with monthly start dates.
  • Offers a complimentary Career Assessments to prospective students.

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

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  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits