Affordable Design Tools

Everyone’s suffering in today’s money crunch but that doesn’t need to keep you from using some great design tools to support your society’s publishing needs. From newsletters and quarterly journals to event flyers and promotional materials, you’ll be surprised what you can do with these apps – and how little they will cost.

Scribus [Win, Mac & Linux – free] is an open source layout application that offers professional-level desktop publishing features at an affordable price. With Scribus you can build books, newsletters, event programs, brochures, business cards and so much more. And, Scribus generates a PDF file that any printer – or printing house – can handle. Scribus is so popular that there is a large support community offering documentation, tutorials and even books to help you learn the program.

Any publishing project will include custom graphics. Take a look at Inkscape [Win, Mac & Linux – free] – the open source alternative to Illustrator or Corel Draw. Like Scribus, Inkscape has a large support community with several books, documentation in many languages, tutorials and more.

Photo editing is another necessity and there are many affordable options beginning with the open source GIMP software [Win, Mac & Linux – free]. GIMP has all the features you would expect from a professional level image editor. If you don’t need all that power, Mac users may find Pixelmator [Mac – $29] is a great alternative to Photoshop Elements. Windows users can take a look at the free PhotoPlus Starter Edition [Win – free to $90] from Serif. If you like it and want more, they have an Essentials edition at $50 and the full-blown version retails for $90 (or less than $55 at Amazon).

Today’s affordable alternatives will take a bit of time and effort to adjust from the tools you’ve been using, but the rewards of open source and small developer apps are many. These people are working hard to provide quality applications at affordable prices and it shows in the results.

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