Software for Great Visual Design

Usually people believe that professional looking visual design must require some expensive software. This is the truth for a lot of cases, especially in video production. But for screen visual design You don't need to spend a single cent. You can produce professional looking GUI or video games from Your home computer using these great free software:

In 2006., when I get tired from problems with Windows XP, I spend some time to find some other OS which I could use for graphic design. After little googling around, I decided to try Ubuntu, which is the most used Linux distribution for desktop computers.

But, when I migrate on Ubuntu, I faced a big problem. Autodesk and Adobe doesn't support Linux, so I had to find some alternatives for 3D Max, Photoshop, Illustrator and other tools for visual design. Than I found Inkscape, GIMP, Blender, Phatch... all my work since 2006. were done using these tools.

Inkscape, GIMP, Blender and Phatch can be installed on Ubuntu with ease. If You wish to use these software on Windows, You will probably need to install Python libraries first. You can found installation instructions for Windows platform on official websites of these software.

I'm working in these software since 2006. and didn't find any reason to go back to some commercial alternatives. So, I highly recommend these tools. All the graphic You can see on Apps On Android website is done using these tools.

This software runs great on my Asus Eee 1000H netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom Processor, 1 GB RAM, Integrated GMA 950). System requirements for these software is very low, so all these software works quite nice, even on computers built just for browsing.

This article will introduce You to these great software, it will explain some workflow and software usage.


Ubuntu is a Linux based operating system. Linux is originally built for servers, so You can expect this OS will be stable and fast. Minimal system requirement for Ubuntu is 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of hard-drive space.

Ubuntu is the standard desktop OS, like Windows XP and Mac OS. It's quite easy to get used to Ubuntu.

Ubuntu can be tricky to make it work with some non-standard hardware and ATI video cards. Every time I installed Ubuntu I spend a day or two for enabling all hardware, but once You make it work You will became truly happy OS user. My friend went back to Windows XP after using Ubuntu. He said that he get bored for not having any issues to deal with it ...


Inkscape is my favourite tool for all vector graphic jobs. I usually do visual identity for software, logo, or icons using Inkscape. It's better to have simple graphic done as vector graphic because it's easy to export it to size and format You need without any loses on it's quality.

Inkscape is simple and reliable tool for curves manipulation. It acts on the way user expects, which makes it very intuitive and easy to use. Inkscape is much better for simple vector graphics artworks than Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw.

Inkscape has some really handy features. One of my favourite is custom grid angle, which is great for logos and icons.


GIMP is one of the best tools I ever used for creating of screen graphics. It's great for web design, wallpapers, splash screens, GUI elements... I'm also using GIMP to create film strips from animated sequences, which are required for 2D video games.

GIMP looks like Photoshop, but has little different procedures. Usually it took couple of days to get used to GIMP. Only things I'm missing in GIMP are Layer Folders and Layer Effects, but beside this is really a great tool.

GIMP can be used for concept art and digital paint. It has full support for modern Wacom Tablets. It's even possible to use Photoshop brushes in GIMP.

GIMP can be used for 2D animations, if additional GAP (GIMP Animation Package) is installed. I found this package quite powerful, but interface isn't very user friendly and it's a bit unstable, so I don't recommend it.


Blender is such an amazing tool ! It's a 3D modeler, 3D renderer, 3D paint tool, sculpt tool, physics simulation tool, game engine, video editing & compositing, format converter etc. Basically, it's all you need to produce a high quality movies with 3D effects. You can see some example of movies done in Blender:

Blender is great for various 3D graphics & animations. Usually I do animated characters for video games in Blender, animate them and export as image sequences. These sequences then can be connected in GIMP in film strips used for 2D video games.


Phatch is Photo Batch Processor. It apply various filters and operations on sets of images. It's similar to Photoshop Batch option.

Phatch is great for resizing all images inside some folder, converting them to desired image format, renaming images, adjusting lightning, applying filters - all in the same time. This is useful when working on some animation and working with larger number of images in sequence.


Although these software come without warranties, this is an Open Source software, so it's not likely it holds anything harmful to Your computers, because someone would notice it in code. Behind all these projects are communities of users and developers, which are willing to help if You face to some troubles as a user. Support is based on free will of the communities members but it works quite well.

Open Source and Free Software initiative bring to developers all the tools they need for first class software visual design. Everyone gain the right to express and show creativity, not only the professionals who can afford commercial software.