Thursday, March 23, 2017

Free Alternatives to Paid Tools for Media Creators (mostly on Windows)

While at work I use a full Adobe CC License for any creation needs, at my sole trader venture (Adventify), I can't afford that privilege, so I use free open source tools. - Interactive Mockups
For the creation of mockups I recommend trying Figma. It is free (for the moment at least), and it's similar to what you get out of the box from tools like Adobe XD / Sketch (minus plugins). And you won't need Invision (now limiting the amount of free projects) to share navigable designs.

For general media creation, here's a quick recap for things I've used in the development of previous games (like Sokos):

Inkscape - Vector Design
For vectorial design, Inkscape is a great, easy to use alternative to Illustrator. The biggest thing you might miss are artboards, (so you can design a multipage PDF from there, but you can join the pages afterwards).

Krita - Bitmap Editing
Although the most famous opensource bitmap editing tool continues to be Gimp, I never liked it enough. With Krita user interface I find things where I would expect them, even if it might still not be at par with the feature checklist, I believe Krita makes a better substitute for Photoshop

Synfig - 2D Animation
Although far from intuitive and not as complete as I'd like it to be, Synfig is the most decent 2D animation free tool I've found, and the best alternative to Flash/Animate or the now very popular ToonBoom or Anime Studio (also paid apps).

Audacity - Sound Editing
This is one that time made me change my mind on. When I first tried Audacity (back in college) this tools was really clunky, experience was faulty. Then a few years ago, I had to give it another go when creating sounds for my games, and turned out to have improved quite a bit since the last time I tried it. Multichannels work great now, and I don't find it buggy at all, so back to the traditions, like in the next example. Said that, I have to admit that for music composition, I did use Apple's GarageBand for soundtracks, and that performed quite well too, and it is free as long as you spend your bucks on a Mac.

Blender - 3D Design and Video?
On 3D editing, I stick to the traditional on the 3D design. Blender is way more advanced than most alternative software and I haven't even found anything matching it on Adobe.
Turns out it is also a decent tool for video editing when Movie Maker / iMovie are just not enough.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Color - Colour

There's a lot to be learned regarding colour to achieve the desired results on a design. Whether the intention of the design is being aesthetically pleasant (most cases), or simply produce some "accent" as the signifier of the importance of an element, you will be willing to know the basics of colour theory and harmony.
My really naive definition for dummies is that, like in music, you achieve harmony by using regular distances between frequencies, and of course, it also helps knowing when to deviate from the established pattern. This is much easier than it sounds, unlike a violin or a cello (which don't provide much help to know what will sound good after the last note you played) and more like a piano or the frets from a guitar, you can use tools that will provide you with those patterns, based on the tonic note (the base colour).
Some examples are:
Or the newer, yet very similar Adobe Color:
What tools do you use for colour exploration? Feel free to suggest yours in the comments.

Friday, February 17, 2017

WTF: What the font!

You have a logo, a design image file, an old mockup created by someone else, and you're wondering which font they used, so you can replicate or re-use it. Well, there are several font recognition systems by now:

Tips from

Scan the image, select the characters of choice, and see all the closest fonts to the one in the image. If it's a proprietary font, they will try to sell it to you (after all that's their business model). But you can always find the closest thing available. For example, if you like Helvetica, but don't want to drop €50 for your personal project, there are free approximations (even if a little far from the real thing) to that font like:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Color Grabber

Sometimes you want to use the same color as the one from an image or logo for consistency, and you end up wasting time trying to approximate the color in a regular windows color picker.
Instead use a Freeware tool like ColorPic:

Install the very lightweight software, run it and press CTRL+G (for Grab) and then press CTRL+G again when on top of the desire pixel. You can see the zoom preview in the tool:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Yet another blog

After many years without creating other content than actual projects, it's time to share my work and experiences in written format, so here I go, welcome to my new personal blog.