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What is open source software?

Updated: 26 June 2018

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.

For more about open source software, check out the Open Sourcce Initiative (OSI)

Note: Comments in quotations below are from each softwares’ respective 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.

Storyboarding software

Storyboarder

What it is: Storyboarder is not open source, but it is free (there is no pay to upgrade offers that often come with free software that isn’t open source). It was created by Wonder Unit, a film production company working on their first full-length feature movie. While doing so they are also making software to help them achieve their goal. So why is it free? In their own words:

“Storyboarder is niche software. The market is tiny. There’s an inverse relationship between the market size and price we have to charge to make money. We are building this tool for ourselves to make better movies. We make money making movies, not software. We believe creative software should be free.” Wonder Unit

The software’s name says what it is; again, in Wonder Unit’s words: “Storyboarder makes it easy to visualize a story as fast you can draw stick figures. Quickly draw to test if a story idea works. Create and show animatics to others. Express your story idea without making a movie.”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Where to get it: https://wonderunit.com/storyboarder/

Drawing & graphics software

Krita

What it is: A raster image based drawing program. “Krita is a FREE and open source painting tool designed for concept artists, illustrators, matte and texture artists, and the VFX industry. Krita has been in development for over 10 years and has had an explosion in growth recently. It offers many common and innovative features to help the amateur and professional alike.”

OS supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Where to get it: https://krita.org/en/

Inkscape

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: https://inkscape.org/en/

GIMP

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: http://www.gimp.org

WINGS 3D

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: http://www.wings3d.com

Animation software

Synfig

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: http://www.synfig.org/cms/

OpenToonz

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: https://opentoonz.github.io/e/index.html

Go here for manuals and tutorials in English: http://www.toonz.com/htm/support/sup.htm

Blender

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: https://www.blender.org

Editing & related software

Kdenlive

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: https://kdenlive.org

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