A list of open-source und commercial software as alternatives to subscription software such as the Adobe Creative Cloud

Ever since the introduction of Adobes Creative Cloud subscription model (2013), many graphic designers, photographers and other digital creatives are confronted with the search for alternative digital tools that still can be purchased and do not have to be rented for a monthly fee.

The main reason for this search for alternatives might not primarily be the monthly costs but rather the dependency on a number of proprietary file formats that won't be editable after the end of the subscription. Since Adobe is not the only company that completely switched to the subscription model - other big companies like Autodesk also changed their licenses to subscription only - the search for alternatives has developed into a comprehensive hunt for alternative software in the areas of imaging, desktop-publishing, vector graphics, web design, video-editing, animation, 3D-design and audio.

It is interesting, that, more or less at the same time numerous alternative software developers have started to advertise their conventional licensing in contrast to to the subscription models, trying to attract those who are opposed to renting software. In addition to that, a number of open source programs are being developed, sometimes with incredible leaps in development. Very often these software projects can be seen as vital alternatives to commercial products.

The following list is divided into the aforementioned areas and consists of software that we consider to be especially interesting in the digital media teaching environment of an art school. We don't regard this list as being complete, we simply listed the programs that found their way into our daily work as substitutes of subscription-only software.

By no means do we want to cast a poor light on Adobes Creative Cloud and other listed software that we tried to substitute with alternative applications. Many of these software titles have been the industry's standard for a long time and that in our opinion rightly so. However, we also think that neither young artists at the beginning of their career nor art teachers are the targeted group of customers of companies offering such license models and neither are the countless enthusiasts who might have bought a license every now and then. For all those our list may serve as a starting point for their search for the right digital tools, far away from the monopolies of big software companies.

The list of entries represents a certain hierarchy of the applications that we personally prefer. That, however, changes according to the individual tasks and should not belittle any other program in that list.


Thorsten Nerling and Oliver Wetterauer

last update: 11.8.2020

bildbearbeitung
dtp
vektor
webgestaltung
video
animation
dreid
vr360
audio
etc

imaging

dtp / pdf

vector

webdesign

video

animation

3D

360° / VR

audio

etc.

bildbearbeitung

raw-development / imaging

The following software is an alternative to digital asset management software (DAM) such as Adobe Bridge or Adobe Lightroom. For us raw convertion is most important, so we put our focus on that aspect. Below that is a list of alternatives to more complex imaging tools, like Photoshop.

Alternatives to Adobe Bridge / Adobe Lightroom

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

raw therapee

raw therapee

raw therapee

Luminar 3 - library 

Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

affinity photo

Affinity Photo

Luminar 2018

Luminar 3 - editor 

dtp

desktop-publishing / pdf-editing

This list consists of alternatives to layout software like Adobe InDesign as well as software that is able to edit and export pdf-files.

Alternatives to Adobe InDesign

open-source/free alternatives

  • Scribus (WIN, MAC, Linux) (requires Ghostscript for pdf-Export, cf. etc...)


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Scribus

Scribus

Alternatives to pdf-editors / Adobe Acrobat

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Affinity Designer

easy PDF

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer as a pdf-editor

additional tools

open-source/free tools

  • FontForge (WIN, MAC, Linux): fonteditor

  • glyphter (browserbased): create fonts from SVGs

  • FontStruct (browser based): font construction kit


commercial software (not open source)

Affinity Designer

glyphter

Affinity Designer

FontStruct

vektor

vectorgraphics / illustration

The list below consists of alternatives to vectorbased drawing apps like Adobe Illustrator as well as pixelbased drawing apps such as Adobe Photoshop.

Alternatives to Adobe Illustrator
(vectorbased drawing)

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Affinity Designer

Affinity Designer

Alternativen to Adobe Illustrator / Photoshop (pixelbased drawing)

open-source/free alternatives

  • Krita (WIN, MAC, Linux)


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Pixelmator

Pixelmator

Krita

Krita

webgestaltung

webdesign

These are the alternatives to html-editors such as Adobe Dreamweaver and web-based builders such as Wix.com.

Alternatives to Adobe Dreamweaver / Wix.com

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Quick n' Easy Web Builder

Quick n’ Easy Web Builder

blocs_klein

Blocs

video

video-editing / videoanimation and compositing / authoring

This is a list of alternatives to video-editing software such as Adobe Premiere, as well as alternatives to animation and compositing tools like Adobe After Effects. Below that is a list of alternatives to DVD- and BluRay-authoring tools such as Adobe Encore.

Alternatives to video editing software such as Adobe Premiere

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

DaVinci Resolve

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve

Alternatives to the animation- and compositing software Adobe After Effects

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Fusion

Blackmagic Fusion

Alternatives to the authoring software Adobe Encore

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

DVD-Styler

DVD-Styler

additional useful video software

open-source/free alternatives

  • OBS Studio (WIN, MAC, Linux) (open broadcaster software (screenpresentations and live streams))

  • handbrake (WIN, MAC, Linux) (transcoder)

  • cinepaint (MAC, Linux) (graphicssoftware for films)

  • mpeg Streamclip (WIN, MAC) (videoconverter)

  • VLC (WIN, MAC, Linux, Android, iOS) (media player)

  • ffmpeg (WIN, MAC, Linux, etc.) (videoconverter)


alternative commercial software (not open source)

  • ffWorks (MAC) (gui for ffmpeg), ca. 20,—€

Mpeg Streamclip

Mpeg-Streamclip

animation

animation (video and web)

The following software offers a substitution for animation tools like Adobe Animate and apps for shooting a stop motion animation.

Alternatives to Adobe Flash
as an animation tool for film

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

  • Moho (Anime Studio) Pro (WIN, MAC), ca. 400,--€

  • CACANi (WIN), ca. 500,--€

OpenToonz

OpenToonz

Alternatives to Adobe Flash for webbased animation

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

  • Tumult Hype (MAC), ca. 50,--€ (Pro licence: 100,--€)

Tumult Hype

Tumult Hype

Tools for stop motion animation

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Stop Motion Studio Pro

Stop Motion Studio Pro

dreid

3D-design / 3D-animation

These are the alternatives to Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya.

Alternatives to Autodesk 3ds Max / Maya

open-source/free alternatives

  • blender (WIN, MAC, Linux)

  • MeshLab (WIN, MAC, Linux), to edit Meshes (for 3D-Scans etc.)

  • Clara.io (browserbased)


alternative commercial software (not open source)

blender

blender

additional 3D-software and tools

open-source/free alternatives

  • Unreal Engine (WIN, MAC, Linux, etc.), game engine, free for non-commercial projects

  • Unity (WIN, MAC, Linux, etc.), game engine, free for non-commercial projects

  • Godot (WIN, MAC, Linux), game engine

  • CopperCube (WIN, MAC), game engine

  • nunuStudio (WIN, MAC, Linux, browserbased), 3D-Editor for html5-Projects

  • MeshLab (WIN, MAC, Linux), to edit Meshes (for 3D-Scans etc.)

  • OrtogOnBlender (WIN, MAC, Linux), Script for 3D-scans with blender

  • Normalmap Online (browserbased), for creating complex textures e.g. for pricipled shaders


alternative commercial software (not open source)

  • CrazyBump (WIN/MAC), creates complex textures, ca. 50,--€ up to 300,--€

  • AgiSoft Photoscan (WIN, MAC, Linux), 3D-scan-software, ca. 180,—€ up to 3500,—€

unreal engine

Unreal Engine

blender

Unity Engine

vr360

360° / VR

The following programs are used for creating 360° videos and -photography as well as virtual reality content. Since this category is closely linked to other areas on this website, there might be the same software titles  in the following list. They are listed here merely for their particular functionality regarding 360° adn virtual reality.

Panorama-Software / Stiching / 360°

open-source/free software


commercial software (not open source)

blender

Affinity Photo as a 360° sticher/editor/viewer

blender

PTGui

360° viewer / panorama tours

open-source/free software


commercial software (not open source)

  • Pano2VR (WIN, MAC; Linux), ca. 150,--€ to 350,--€

  • KRPano (WIN, MAC; Linux), ca. 130,--€

blender

Marzipano

blender

Pano2VR

VR

open-source/free software

  • Unreal Engine (WIN, MAC), game engine, free for non-commercial projects

  • Unity Engine (WIN, MAC), game engine, free for non-commercial projects

  • Twinmotion (Unreal Engine) (WIN, MAC), visualization, free until November 2019

  • VVVV (WIN), game engine

  • Fusion (WIN, MAC, Linux), VR compositing

  • Blocks (Oculus, Vive), VR in VR

  • Patches (browserbased), create WebVR content

  • Styly (browserbased), create WebVR content


commercial software (not open source)

  • Quill (Oculus), paint and animate in VR, ca. 30,—€

  • Tilt Brush (Oculus, Vive, Windows Mixed Reality), VR in VR, ca. 20,—€

  • Gravity Sketch (Oculus, Vive, Steam), VR in VR, ca. 30,—€

  • SculptrVR (Oculus, PSVR, Steam), VR in VR, ca. 20,—€

  • CoolPaintrVR (PSVR), VR in VR, ca. 20,—€

  • Medium (Oculus, WIN), VR in VR, ca. 30,—€

  • Fusion Studio (WIN, MAC, Linux), VR compositing, ca. 330,--€

  • MasterpieceVR (Oculus, Vive, Windows Mixed Reality), VR in VR, ca. 30,--€

  • AnimVR (Oculus, Vive, Windows Mixed Reality), VR in VR, pricing: cf. webpage

blender

VR in Unreal

audio

audio

These are the alternatives to audio tools such as Adobe Audition and Avid Pro Tools.

Alternatives to Adobe Audition / Avid Pro Tools (DAW)

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

Tracktion

traktion

additional audio software (tracker, synthesizer, etc.)

open-source/free alternatives

  • sunvox (WIN, MAC, Linux, Android, iOS, etc.)

  • Sonic Pi (WIN, MAC, Raspberry Pi)


alternative commercial software (not open source)

sunvox

sunvox

useful audio tools 

open-source/free alternatives


sunvox

fre:ac

sunvox

BlackHole

etc

etc...

We couldn't put any of the following apps into one of the existing categories. These are useful tools that come in handy when working with another software, but also software that is situated outside the categories corresponding to Adobes apps of the Creative Cloud.

Additional tools

open-source/free alternatives

  • 7-zip (WIN, MAC, Linux) (zipping software)

  • FileZilla (WIN, MAC, Linux) (ftp-program)

  • Ghostscript (WIN, MAC, Linux) (display and export pdf and postscript)


alternative commercial software (not open source)

FileZilla

FileZilla

miscellaneous software

open-source/free alternatives


alternative commercial software (not open source)

libre office

libre office



impressum

Impressum/privacy policy

for the information listed on this webpage are responsible:

Impressum

Information according to § 5 TMG:

Oliver Wetterauer

Address:
Linzerstr 84D
70469 Stuttgart
contact:
Telefon: 0049 711 4148497
E-Mail: o.wetterauer@meintrautesheim.de

Information on our website
Copyright Information
Oliver Wetterauer and
Thorsten Nerling

responsible for journalistic and editorial content:
Oliver Wetterauer and 
Thorsten Nerling

Information according to § 36 VSBG
Gemäß § 36 VSBG (Verbraucherstreitbeilegungsgesetz – Gesetz über die alternative Streitbeilegung in Verbrauchersachen) erklärt der Betreiber dieser Website:
Wir sind weder bereit noch verpflichtet, an Streitbeilegungsverfahren vor einer Verbraucherschlichtungsstelle teilzunehmen.

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disclaimer:

Although the contents of this website was carefully reviewed and gathered, the authors of this website are not responsible in any way for any damages that derive from the use of information and/or software and/or tools.

On multiple occasions we provide links to other websites to make the transition between our listed software and their actual websites more seamless. We would like to point out, that these sites are not under our administration and we therefore have no influence on the continuity of these sites and their contents. The fact that we included those links does not mean that we are responsible for the actuality or the contents of these websites. 

Privacy Policy

Responsible party pursuant to data protection laws, in particular the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is

Oliver Wetterauer

Your rights as the data subject

You can exercise the following rights at any time using the contact details of our data protection officer:
Information on your data stored by us and the processing thereof (Art. 15 GDPR),
Rectification of inaccurate personal data (Art. 16 GDPR),
Deletion of your data stored by us (Art. 17 GDPR),
Restriction of the data processing, provided that we may not delete your data due to legal obligations (Art. 18 GDPR),
Objection to the processing of your data with us (Art. 21 GDPR) and
Data portability, provide that you have consented to the data processing or have entered into a contract with us (Art. 20 GDPR).
If you have given us consent, you may withdraw it at any time, which will remain in effect in the future.
You can contact a supervisory authority with a complaint at any time, e.g. the supervisory authority of the state of your residence or the authority that oversees us as the responsible party.
You’ll find a list of supervisory authorities (for the non-public area) with their respective addresses at: https://www.bfdi.bund.de/DE/Infothek/Anschriften_Links/anschriften_links-node.html.
Collecting general information during a visit to our website

Type and purpose of the processing
When you access our website – i.e. if you do not register or submit information – information of a general nature will be collected automatically. This information (server log files) contains the type of web browser, the operating system used, the domain name of your Internet service provider, your IP address and the like.
It is processed in particular for the following purposes:
Ensuring an unproblematic website connection

Ensuring seamless use of our website
Analysis of system security and stability as well as
For additional administrative purposes.
We will not use your data to draw conclusions about your person. This type of information will be statistically analysed by us if necessary to optimise our website and its underlying technology.

Legal basis
The processing occurs according to Art. 6 Para. 1 (f) GDPR, based on our legitimate interest in improving the stability and functionality of our website.

Recipients
Recipients of the data may be technical service providers, who work on the operation and maintenance of our website as the processor.

Retention period
The data will be deleted as soon as they are no longer required for the reason they were collected. This is generally the case, after the respective session has ended, for data that are used to make the website available.

Mandatory or required provision
The provision of the aforementioned personal data is neither legally nor contractually mandatory. Without the IP address however, the service and functionality of our website are not guaranteed. Furthermore, individual services can be unavailable or limited. For this reason, an objection is excluded.

Using script libraries (Google Webfonts)

Type and purpose of the processing
In order to present our content correctly and graphically appealing across all browsers, we use ‘Google Webfonts’ from Google LLC (1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA, hereinafter ‘Google’) to display fonts on this website.
You’ll find the data protection guidelines of the library operator Google here: https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/

Legal basis
Your consent is the legal basis for the integration of Google Webfonts and the associated data transfer to Google (Art. 6 Para. 1 (a) GDPR).

Recipients
The use of script libraries or font libraries automatically triggers a connection to the operator of the library. It is theoretically possible – but currently also unclear whether and to what end – that the operator, in this case Google, will collect data.

Retention period
We do not collect any personal data via the integration of Google Webfonts.
You’ll find additional information on Google Webfonts at https://developers.google.com/fonts/faq and in Google’s privacy policy: https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/.

Third country transfers
Google processes your data in the United States of America and is subject to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: https://www.privacyshield.gov/EU-US-Framework.

Mandatory or required provision
The provision of your personal data is neither legally nor contractually required. However, the correct presentation of standard-fonts content is not possible without this provision.

Revocation of consent
The programming language JavaScript is regularly used to display content. Thus, you can opt out of the data processing by disabling JavaScript execution in your browser or by installing a JavaScript blocker. Please note that this may result in functional limitations on the website.

Revision of our privacy policy
We reserve the right to amend this privacy policy so that it always complies with current legal requirements or to implement changes to our services in the privacy policy, e.g. when introducing new services. Your next visit will be subject to the new privacy policy.

Questions for the data protection officer
If you have any questions pertaining to data protection, please send us an e-mail or contact the person responsible for data protection in our organization:

Oliver Wetterauer
Linzerstr 84D
70469 Stuttgart
o.wetterauer@meintrautesheim.de

The privacy policy was created via the activeMind AG privacy policy generator (Version: #2018-09-24).