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Free/Open Source image editing programs

Discussion in 'Digital Airbrush Tutorials' started by OzAirbrush, Mar 19, 2012.


  1. OzAirbrush

    OzAirbrush Young Tutorling

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    Hi All,
    to kick off this forum I thought I'd add a list of a few free or open source applications for you to start creating your own reference images and designs.
    If you have a link to any not listed please add a link, if you have used any of those listed maybe you could add a review?

    I'll quickly give you my limited understanding of the diferent types of image editing applications.

    Raster editing:
    Examples of these tools are Photoshop by Adobe and The Gimp (free).
    These tools basically allow you to edit each pixel of the image. Each pixel has what they call 'channels' which are red green blue and alpha. By manipulating these channels you can change the tone/colour/contrast etc of all or only selected pixels.
    There are also layers which you 'lay' over one another, each with different objects or designs etc that allow you to build up an image from different pieces/images. The order in which you lay the layers is also important.
    These images are stored as a bitmap or similar filetype thereof. Photographs are an example of a bitmap type of image such as jpeg.

    Vector editing:
    Examples of these applications are Illustrator again by Adobe and Inkscape (free).
    I haven't worked with these applications as yet but I do use vector type applications everyday as a design drafter so I'll do my best to explain how I think they work so bare with me :)
    Rather than editing each pixel you work with actual lines and curves to build your image. You can then fill in areas with colour and blends etc as you would a raster image, the big difference between a vector and raster image though is how they scale.

    The big difference!
    A bitmapped image when scaled just makes each pixel bigger and when printed out gives you that blocky edge look and produces poorer images as a result.
    A vector image, because it is stored as a mathematical line/curve lends itself to being scaled very easily and therefore prints out very clearly with no jagged edges, a far superior quality output for things like graphic design although I understand that these too have the abilty to edit bitmaps and photo images also.

    I'm leaning towards a vector editing application for the things I want to do but both have their place and advantages over each other.

    Here's a short list of the more popular to get started:

    Raster:
    The GIMP - http://www.gimp.org/ - Linux/Mac/Windows/Unix
    Paint.NET - http://www.getpaint.net/index.html - Windows

    Vector:
    Inkscape - http://inkscape.org/ - Linux/Mac/Windows/Unix
    Xara Extreme - http://www.xaraxtreme.org/ - Free for Linux only I think, looks awesome though!

    Cheers,
    Mick.
  2. Darren

    Darren Double Actioner

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    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  3. OzAirbrush

    OzAirbrush Young Tutorling

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    Awesome find!
    That is so cool, I was only thinking about how to do that the other day so I could blow up my references and use with carbon paper to put the image on the painting surface.
    Nice find, thanks Darren, that's the stuff we need :)

    Mick.
  4. ProperlyStained

    ProperlyStained Young Tutorling

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    That PosteRazor looks great. I have been doing this by enlarging with my copier and hoping I got the right over-lap. I will definitely be trying it out. Thanks for the info.



    I got it but...How do you convert to PDF? Everything I found costs something to convert them.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  5. Darren

    Darren Double Actioner

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    No worries guys, once you have tried the software I know for a fact you will be using it for all jobs. Having the overlap is a great feature as it allows the pieces to be lined up just perfect and taped together. I have made A4 pictures into A2 size with no problems within minutes.
  6. mika

    mika Young Tutorling

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    vector editing applications are the only way to work whit blade or laser plotter if you want to desing your own stencils later..
  7. JackEb

    JackEb The Dragon Hunter Staff Member Admin

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    I've got something on my pc that converts to PDF, I'll check later and let you know what it is, I know it was free at the time
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
  8. OzAirbrush

    OzAirbrush Young Tutorling

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    If you want to print anything to pdf, PDFCreator (one word) is an excellent program, I use it many times each day in my real job as a CAD drafty. Best bit it's FREE ;)

    What you do is install it and it acts just like a printer, when you print you need to select the PDF Creator in the printer drop down list and away you go.
  9. RebelAir

    RebelAir Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Have been trying to find this one again and finally did, its a pretty cool program, especially for those that do auto and want to show prospective clients a 3d Montage of the whole car at once instead of hundreds of individual pictures...Here's a link..You do need a hotmail account I believe....

    http://photosynth.net/default.aspx
  10. Russ Allen

    Russ Allen Elite Member! Elite Member!

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    That will be very useful, I will be downloading this once I get home!!! Thanks for sharing
  11. Teez

    Teez Young Tutorling

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    Guys I need some help I'm blowing pictures up like 3 x A4 size wide and 4 x A4 size long, I'm loosing the details in the pic and the outlines is very hard to judge. Iv downloaded the inkscape and nt sure how to use it. Can I get the detail bk in the pics when I blow it up? And what do I do to get a soild outline. Please need help. Any1?
  12. AirbrushNewbie

    AirbrushNewbie Young Tutorling

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    Hey! Try out Gimp -WWW.gimp.org..It seems alot easier to work with than most programs to me. Hope it helps ;p
  13. Amigafreak

    Amigafreak Young Tutorling

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    if you are missing GIMP but you are on another dudes machine, you can use an online program Sumo Paint 5.0.4 guess it taste a bit like gimp
  14. simonarvestrand

    simonarvestrand Spider Splatterer

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    If someone want to use gimp but are a Adobe photoshop user you can try gimpshop. it's same as gimp but looks more like adobe, shortcuts and such
  15. jagardn

    jagardn Airbrush Acquisition Disorder Patient Elite Member!

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    Inkscape is a vector application, it is not meant to blow up Raster(pixel based) images. You can use it's bezier tool to trace you dark/hotspots, then scale the vector drawing to whatever size you want. The base problem is that your reference pictures are not a high enough resolution.

    You can't scale one dimension by 3x and the other by 4x, your aspect ratio will be off, You can only blow your largest dimension, then fill in the dead space of the smaller dimension with something else.

    Edit: Do a search for "Free Photo Enlarger" on Google, they are out there, but I can't vouch for their quality or malware threats.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  16. Mr.Micron

    Mr.Micron Royal pain in the air hose Admin

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    I have used most of these programs But this is a great thread .
    I enlarging my layouts I use Tilemage.TileMage you can split the image into as many pieces as you need to make it as large as you need it.
  17. simonarvestrand

    simonarvestrand Spider Splatterer

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    i use photoshop for enlarging images, the trick in photoshop is to not enlarge 100% , to keep as much of the quality as possible you do it in small steps, i don't know if they fixed that in the latest releases , i have done this way sins early versions and it workes great.
    the smaller steps the better quality in the end.
  18. Dart Vader

    Dart Vader Banned

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    When working with a Bitmap image any amount of enlarging an image file will result in loss of "quality' as you are literally stretching each pixel's information over a greater area. This is not something that Photoshop (Adobe) can fix. It is simply De Facto. The physical restrictions exist regardless of our technological advances.
  19. simonarvestrand

    simonarvestrand Spider Splatterer

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    of course you will lose quality , but the amount of loss decrease with that metod, at least it did in earlier releases.
  20. Jar

    Jar Spider Splatterer

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    I tried ink scape, But i stick with photoshop and illustrator.

    Illegal software is against the law ,
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2014

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