A curated list of delightful tools for digital creatives in a variety of mediums.
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README.md

delightful creative tools delightful

A curated list of delightful tools for digital creatives in a variety of mediums.

Together we collected these gems of freedom 💎 Please delight us and add your own.

Contents

Visual Media

Photo Manipulation

  • GIMP - One of the most popular Photoshop alternatives with an impressive feature set and versatility.
    • PhotoGIMP is a patch for GIMP that makes it much more like Adobe Photoshop for those that are accustomed to that experience.
    • Resynthesizer is a "texture synthesis" plugin that functions much like a certain content-aware filter from a popular, mainstream photo editor.
    • G'MIC is a plugin that offers hundreds of configurable filters for digital image processing.
    • Hugin allows you to "stitch" photos together to make a larger, panoromic image.
    • Wavelet Decompose will separate an image into layers based on frequency, with each layer containing a unique details from the original image. This can be helpful for skin retouching or smoothing specific parts of an image.
  • Glimpse - Fork of GIMP with a more modernised UI, a more streamlined user experience, and a name with less ableist connotation. Keyboard shortcuts from PhotoGIMP are baked in. The project is no longer in active development, but a rewrite is in the works called "Glimpse NX" which is aiming to hone in even more on usability and accessibility.

Photo Management

  • Darktable - Virtual lightroom and darktable for photographers, allows for processing of raw image files.
  • DigiKam - Tool for sorting and organizing expansive collections of photos, with batch editing features.
  • Photoprism - AI-powered application for advanced photo organization and easy sharing.
  • pngquant - Efficient command line utility for compressing PNG files.

Graphic Art

  • Krita - Advanced painting program for artists of any skill level. It's cross-platform, feature-rich, customizable, and intuitive to use. It even provides some photo manipulation and basic animation capability.
  • Inkscape - Excellent vector art program for designers and illustrators.
  • MyPaint - Simple paint program with a distraction-free fullscreen mode and an infinite canvas. No longer actively maintained.
  • Drawpile - Drawing program with a canvas that can be shared in real-time by multiple users over the internet. Seemingly no longer maintained, but still a lot of fun.
  • BeeRef - Simple but extremely useful reference image viewer.
  • Silky Shark - Mouse and tablet stabilizer, excellent accessibility tool for those that struggle keeping a steady hand.

Animation

  • Blender - Incredible software that offers professional capability in 3D modeling, 3D animation, 2D animation, CGI/VFX, and more.
    • agmmnn's Awesome Blender repo has a massive list of open source plug-ins that could help improve your workflow in Blender.
    • MakeHuman is an additional piece of software for creating rigged, humanoid character models to import directly into Blender.
    • SheepIt Client is an open-source client for the free, distributed SheepIt render farm.
    • See Public Domain Resources below for pre-made textures, 3D models, and more.
  • OpenToonz - 2D animation program geared toward traditional frame-by-frame animation with support for plug-ins that utilize deep learning to add impressive visual effects, based on software adopted and customized by the incomparable Studio Ghibli.
  • Synfig Studio - 2D Animation software that appears to be no longer actively maintained, though it is feature-rich and provides support for bone rigging, cut-out animation, and traditional frame-by-frame.
  • Papagayo-NG - Tool for generating 2D lip sync animation. The result typically needs some manual tweaking, but it takes a lot of work out of the process. It works with Synfig, OpenToonz, and Krita, among others.
  • Storyboarder - Storyboard and animatic software for easy visualization of your film/animation project during the pre-production phases.
  • RenderChan - Rendering manager for 2D animation projects.

Streaming

  • OBS Studio - A brilliant piece of software for livestreaming and video recording.

Video Production

  • kdenlive - Video editor with multi-track capability, support for a wide varitey of video and audio formats, and a suite of useful production tools. It's been in active development since 2002!
  • Shotcut - Video editor with professional audio processing features, lots of video effects, and a customizable interface with undockable panels. It also boasts support for some video-related hardware.
  • Pitivi - Video editor with a focus on design and usability, with natural integration into the GNOME desktop environment.
  • Flowblade - Video editor with a multitude of included tools, boasting stability and a speedy workflow.
  • Olive Video Editor - Video editing software with node-based compositing built-in and fast disk cache performance.
  • OpenShot - Simple, bare-bones video editing akin to Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
  • Avidemux - Small but mighty. Ideal for quick edits, filtering, and encodes.
  • OpenColorIO - Color grading/management tool for use with Olive Video Editor, Blender, Krita, and more.
  • Natron - Professional compositing software for Motion Graphics and VFX.
  • Handbrake - Powerful, cross-platform video transcoder.

CAD Software

  • FreeCAD - 3D parametric modeler for product design, mechanical engineering, and architecture. Features Python integration, OpenSCAD integration, and 2D drafting.
  • OpenSCAD - Code-based, non-interactive 3D modeling workbench.
  • LibreCAD - Lightweight 2D drafting software.
  • OpenVSP - Parametric aircraft geometry tool for designing functional air vehicles.
  • Avogadro - Molecular editor and visualizer for chemical engineers.
  • MolView - Web-based molecular editor and visualizer.

Audio

Audio Editors

  • Audacity - Simple, intuitive multi-track recorder and waveform editor. It has been around since 2000 and remains an exceptionally popular tool for audio recording and editing.

Disclaimer: There was a PR discrepency a while back that involved Audacity changing ownership, talk about potentially including analytics, and more. None of this ever came to be due to push back from the community. Currently, it does have automatic update checking and error reporting, which sends some anonymized system info back to the maintainers; however, these can be disabled on initial startup or any time in the Preferences menu. Linux users also have the option to install the FlatPak version, which has all networking features disallowed by default. It is free, open source, does not collect telemetry data, and is still a great piece of software. Audacity has been a pillar in the greater open source software library for a long time and, after some debate, decidedly belongs on this list as it stands today.

  • Tenacity - A fork of Audacity from an older version (3.0.2) without networking features, albeit no longer maintained, made for those that are not comfortable using the original software.
  • Audacium - Another Audacity fork, also no longer actively maintained, though the maintainer is looking to re-home the project.

Music Source Separation Libraries

  • Open-Unmix - CLI program that will attempt to separate individual tracks from an audio recording using PyTorch.
  • Spleeter - Another music source separator developed by Deezer developers.
  • Demucs - Yet another, but developed by Meta researchers (I know, I'm sorry, but it is entirely FOSS).

DAWs

Digital Audio Workstations

  • Ardour - Full-featured, cross-platform, multi-track workstation & MIDI sequencer with support for VST, LV2, and LADSPA plugins. Best option for working with audio tracks.
  • Qtractor - Multi-track recorder/editor with a powerful MIDI sequencer for Linux. Supports VST, LV2, DSSI, and LADSPA plugins. Not as capable as Ardour in working with audio tracks, but much better at handling MIDI tracks.
  • LMMS - Ideal workstation for beatmaking or a loops-based workflow, like you may find in FL Studio or Ableton Live, though it does not feature native audio recording.
  • Ensembles - Digital workstation for arranging music for live performance, not targeted toward studio recording.

Audio Plugins

Plugin Hosts

  • Carla - Non-linear plugin host for running plugins outside the DAW, using Windows VSTs on Linux, and more.
  • Yabridge - Seamless support for both 64-bit and 32-bit VSTs (VST2 & VST3) on 64-bit Linux hosts.
  • AudioGridder - Allows users to offload DSP processing to remote computers to save system resources when using intensive plugins.

Packs

  • Calf Studio Gear - Extensive pack of LV2 plugins including instruments and effects in modulation, delay, dynamics, EQ, and more.
  • Zam-Plugins - Several audio plugins including a really nice dynamic EQ and more, all in LV2 or VST formats.
  • DPF-Plugins - Small collection of plugins by DISTRHO in LADSPA, DSSI, LV2, VST2 and VST3 formats.
  • DISTRHO Ports - Collection of open-source plugin ports to Linux, including the popular TAL-Noisemaker, Vitalium, mverb, and more.
  • Linux Studio Plugins - Suite of plugins made for Linux.

Synthesizers

  • Helm - Versatile polyphonic synthesizer in multiple plugin formats or a standalone app.
  • Surge - Subtractive hybrid synth that seemingly does it all.
  • Odin 2 - A monstrous 24-voice polyphonic synth fit for the gods.
  • ZynAddSubFX - Polyphonic synth with additive, subtractive, and pad modes.
  • Sorcer - LV2 wavetable synth primarily for EDM producers.
  • Geonkick - Fantastic modern percussion synthesizer.
  • WeirdDrums - Small but highly tweakable synthesizer for techno/EDM drum sounds.
  • Dexed - Synth plugin inspired by the Yamaha DX7.
  • OPNPlug - FM Chip synthesizer, inspired by the YM2612 found in the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive and some classic arcade cabinets. Great for chiptunes.
  • SoyBoy - Emulating the sounds of the Game Boy.

Virtual Instruments

  • DrumGizmo - Drum sampler plugin with great samples and support for eDrum triggers (with positional sensitivity in the works).
  • Hydrogen - MIDI drum machine that can be used on its own or as a sequencer and trigger for external virtual drums (like DrumGizmo) and other virtual instruments.
  • setBfree - Classic tonewheel organ, great for jazz, blues, and more.

Sampling

  • Drops - For easily processing samples and cutting loops.
  • ninjas2 - Another easy sample slicer.
  • SooperLooper - Real-time live looping for Linux and MacOS users.

Dynamics

  • EQ10Q - Powerful and flexible 10-band parametric equalizer with filters.
  • Luftikus - Maag-inspired, analogue style EQ.

Delay and Reverb

  • Cocoa Delay - Nice, warm delay plugin in VST format.
  • mverb - Great sounding, simple reverb plugin.
  • Cloud Seed - Vast and beautiful ambient reverb.
  • Teufelsberg Reverb - 6 distinctive reverb sounds captured at the Berlin surveillance tower.

Distortion

  • CHOW - Distortion plugin for heavy degredation.
  • C1Bitcrusher - Authentic sounding bitcrusher in VST2 format.

Guitar Effects

  • guitarix - Multi-format virtual amplifier.
  • SmartGuitarAmp - Uses machine learning to simulate real-world guitar amplifiers.
  • SmartGuitarPedal - Uses maching learning to simulate real-world guitar effect pedals.

Misc Effects

  • AirWindows - Incredibly subtle, "subliminal" sound texturing plugin.
  • PaulXStretch - Extreme time-stretching plugin.
  • Flutterbird - Automated pitch and volume fluxuation.

Mastering

  • ReFine - The final coat of paint for your new song, allowing you to dial in more warmth, space, and punch to individual tracks or the overall mix.

Standalone Instruments

Synthesizers

  • VCV Rack - An insanely powerful and configurable modular synth with tons of possible applications.

Trackers

  • Bosca Ceoli - Tracker that comes pre-loaded with over one hundred MIDI and chiptune instrument sounds.
  • MilkyTracker - Chiptune synthesizer and sequencer.
  • klystrack - Simple but powerful four-track synth and sequencer.
  • SunVox - Small modular synth for a variety of devices.
  • Schism tracker - Open source re-implementation of Impulse Tracker.
  • HUGETracker - Tracker for Game Boy homebrew and chiptune composers.
  • FamiStudio - Tracker for NES/Famicom homebrew and chiptune composers.
  • GoatTracker 2 - Tracker for Commodore 64 homebrew and chiptune composers.

DJ Software

  • Mixxx - Community-driven software with dozens of features for newbie DJs and master turntableists alike.

Music Notation

  • MuseScore - Create and print your own sheet music in multiple formats (including classical, jazz chord charts, tableture, vocal arrangements, and more), with a clean UI and support for MIDI keyboard input.
  • LilyPond - Flexible software for making beautiful, printable sheet music. It is extremely customizable and can be expanded for practically any kind of notation you might need.

Writing

Specialized Word Processors

  • Bibisco - Novel writing application with additional tools to aid in character development and world building, organizational featues, and the capability to anaylize your novel and provide helpful data at a glance.
  • Manuskript - Software for storytellers who are also planners, offering a detailed, hierarchal outliner and "novel assistant" to help you think it all out before you've started writing, as well as a distraction-free text editor.
  • Kit Scenarist - Cross-platform screenwriting application with a handy research module for easy reference of research material and virtual cards for mapping out your story structure.
  • GitBook - Software that takes advantage of Git's version control system for technical writing and documentation.

Text Editors

  • ghostwriter - Text editor that allows you to use Markdown to create documents in various formats, all within a clean and customizable interface.
  • Emacs - Advanced, power-user text editor with content-aware editing modes, built-in documentation, and much, much more.
  • Spacemacs - Alternative to Emacs with a VIM-like featureset incorporated into the editor.
  • espanso - A "text expander" that allows you to code custom keywords to make your typing more efficient.
  • Geany - Programmer's text editor and IDE that is lightweight, customizable, and supports many plugins.
  • Notepad++ - Simple notepad and source code editor for Windows.

Notebooks

  • Joplin - Cross-platform note-taking app with end-to-end encrypted note syncing between devices and a handful of other great features.
  • Turtl - Secure notebook app with an emphasis on collaboration.
  • Journal - Self-hostable, private journaling webapp.
  • EteSync Notes - Self-hostable, encrypted notes app for mobile and web.

Office Suites

  • LibreOffice - A truly free and complete office suite for everyone.
  • OnlyOffice - Modern, full-featured Office alternative for collaborators. Excellent compatability with Microsoft Office documents.
    • CryptPad is a self-hostable, cloud-based office solution that integrates OnlyOffice tools in the web browser, similar to Office365.

Editing

  • LanguageTool - Grammer, style, and spell checker in the form of a desktop app, webapp, browser add-on, office-plugin, and more. Supports several common languages and counting.
  • Expresso - Webapp for fast neural network analysis of your text style to provide useful feedback metrics to English writers.

Translation

  • LibreTranslate - Machine translation API for text and documents that is self-hostable, can be used offline, and has a free webapp.

Publishing

  • LaTeX - Document and book formatting software for anything from scientific research papers to high fantasy novels.
  • Scribus - Versatile desktop publishing toolset for finalizing print-ready books, magazines, and more.

Game Development

Game Engines

  • Godot - Impressive engine for making professional games in 2D or 3D. Supports multiple languages, including C++, C#, and the developer's own GDScript. It also offers visual scripting tools, VCS integrations (git, etc.), and can deploy to any modern desktop or mobile OS (or even game consoles, with third-party support).
  • GDevelop - Easy-to-learn 2D game engine that requires no coding knowledge and includes all the assets one would need to start learning game development. It also offers live previews of your game, easy integration with third-party tools, JavaScript support for building more complex games, and extensive tutorials on their website.
  • libGDX - Cross-platform, Java-based game engine behind many popular indie games. Offers a unified API and extensive third-party plugin support.
  • Panda3D - Engine for real-time 3D games and other applications (visualizations, simulations, etc.).
  • LÖVE - Framework for building 2D games easily with the Lua scripting engine.
  • Superpowers - Game engine made with ease of use and real-time collaboration in mind, using TypeScript for game logic. It includes free assets and allows users to publish to multiple platforms, including web browsers.
  • Spring - An engine specifically built for making custom RTS games with Lua scripting.

Asset Creation Tools

Pixel Art and 2D Sprites

See also: Graphic Art

  • Pixelorama - Suite of tools for making sprites, backgrounds, tiles, pixel art animations, etc.
  • Piskel - Editor for animated sprites and pixel art, works in-browser and as a standalone application.
  • LibreSprite - Totally free fork from the last GPLv2 commit of the popular open source Aseprite pixelart program. While it's missing some newer features and bugfixes from the current versions of Aseprite, the developers are working on a ground-up rewrite with exciting new features that is worth keeping an eye on.
  • EZSpriteSheet - Spritesheet packer that can even import from GIFs and WEBPs.

Voxel Art and 3D Models

See also: Animation

  • ArmorPaint - Node-based texture painting for 3D models. Can be freely built from source.
  • Goxel - Powerful, cross-platform editor for voxel-based 3D models with support for layers, unlimited canvas size, and more.
  • DEM.Net Elevation API - Live 3D terrain generation from realworld data.

Level Design and Maps

  • LDtk - 2D level editor with an intuitive UI, simple export, and many other modern features.
  • Tiled - Tilemap/level editor supported by tons of game development frameworks.

Sound Effects and Music

See also: Audio

  • ChipTone - Easy to use SFX synthesizer with tweakable example presets, with a sampler and sequencer built-in.
  • JFXR - Webapp for generating sound effects for your games, with semi-randomized presets.
  • BeepBox - A simple browser-based chiptune synth and sequencer for game music loops and SFX.
  • LabChirp - Versatile sound effect generator with great documentation.

Dialogue

  • Yarn Spinner - Tool for game writers to build branching dialogue and narratives for games.

Public Domain Resources

  • LOSPEC - Open source website with a community-built and searchable list of pixel art palettes, library of tutorials, and more.
  • Kenney Assets - Free pixel art game assets & sprite sheets under the Creative Commons 1.0 Universal license.
  • DevAssets - 2D and 3D game assets freely available for any project, commercial or not.
  • Quaternius' Assets - Free low poly, sometimes animated 3D models under CC0 license.
  • ambientCG - Free CC-1.0 Universal licensed resources for 3D modeling including textures, assets, and more.
  • CGBookcase - More free photorealistic PBR textures for 3D models, all under the Creative Commons 1.0 license.
  • Toptal's Subtle Patterns - Creative Commons tilable pattern images for free.
  • Unsplash - Free photography for that can be edited, manipulated, and reused in your projects.

Media Sharing

Places to publish your work!

Image Sharing

  • PixelFed - Fediverse image sharing platform (alternative to Instagram).

Video Sharing

  • PeerTube - Fediverse video sharing platform (alternative to YouTube).
  • OwnCast - Self-hostable livestreaming platform (alternative to Twitch).

Audio Sharing

  • Castopod - Tool to self-host your own podcasts.
  • Funkwhale - Fediverse music sharing platform (alternative to GrooveShark).

Maintainers

If you have questions or feedback regarding this list, then please create an Issue in our tracker, and optionally @mention one or more of our maintainers:

License

CC0 Public domain. This work is free of known copyright restrictions.

To the extent possible under law, the maintainers and other contributors have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.