The cheapskate toolbox

Photos / graphics / dtp software – what have I got? What do I want?
Firstly, I’m professionally interested in keeping pace with all the low-cost and free software that’s out there, and where possible, prefer to use it. Aspirationally I can’t wait to get my hands on a shiny new copy of CS5 with student discount, but, before I do that, I want to see how far I can get with the less glamorous alternatives:

  • Industry standard: Photoshop / Illustrator / InDesign
  • Free software alternative: Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus

This is what I’m using…


First pass, Picasa for viewing individual photos, quick adjustments and cropping. I have Canon software that does the same thing, but Picasa is much more functional on and offline, as I use Google apps a lot.
Gimp and Photoshop 6 as main photo manipulation software. I use Gimp more because it’s on the machine I use mostly now, I’m used to it’s quirks, and I made a conscious decision to start using it so I would get to know it better. Photoshop 6 is about 10 years old but it’s better than Gimp for handling text, and I still use the ‘optimise for web’ magic button which was a big feature when it came out.
Easy Thumbnails for batch resizing of photos and thumbnail creation.


I haven’t used graphics software much to date, so I’m having a look for something. I’m currently learning Inkscape.   A couple of web apps I quite like the look of are  Aviary tools and Sumo Paint


I have used Quark Express a little in the past. I’m currently learning to use Scribus, it’s also the best thing I’ve got for creating pdfs.

Palettes and colour charts

This is what I actually use, very basic and quick > Visibone , and these are what I think I use:

Text is a tool that lets you check a phrase against all the fonts on your machine

File conversion

Zamzar is an online file conversion tool


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