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delightful creative tools
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.
- Visual Media
- Software Development
- Game Development
- Media Sharing
- GIMP - One of the most popular Photoshop alternatives with an impressive feature set and versatility.
- 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.
- PhotoGIMP - A patch for GIMP that makes it much more like Adobe Photoshop for those that are accustomed to that experience.
- Resynthesizer - "Texture synthesis" plugin that functions much like the content-aware filter from Photoshop.
- Both Darktable and RawTherapee (see Photo Management below) can also be used as plugins for GIMP!
- Wavelet Decompose - Separates 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.
- G'MIC - Offers hundreds of configurable filters for digital image processing.
- elsamuko - Small collection of stylish filters and effects.
- Beautify - Adds lots of filters with varying texture and color.
- ReFocus - Attempts to correct the focus of an image after scanning, scaling, and other manipulations have left the pixels of the image a bit blurry.
- ContrastFix - Helps you correct contrast issues in photos using masks.
- PurpleFringe - Corrects the "purple fringe" effect that occurs due to chromatic abberation.
- Lensfun - Corrects photographic lens errors with a large database of supported lenses.
- Hugin - Allows you to "stitch" photos together to make a larger, panoromic image.
- BIMP - Allows you apply edits to a whole batch of photos at once.
- GIMPHelp Scripts - Over 100 miscellaneous scripts maintained by a small team.
- Darktable - Virtual lightroom and darktable for photographers, allows for processing of raw image files.
- RawTherapee - Like Darktable with a steeper learning curve, but with excellent HDR and tonemapping capability.
- 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.
- 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.
- David Revoy's 2021 Krita Brushes Bundle, his 2023 Brushes Bundle, and his Speed Painting Brush Bundle are all packs of excellent custom brushes for Krita by artist David Revoy.
- GDQuest's Free Krita Brushes for Game Artists offers several professional brushes made for game artists, but would work well for concept artist and other illustrations, too.
- Krita brushes thumbnail generator is a tool for generating layered thumbnails for your own custom brushes.
- 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.
- WBO - Another tool similar to Drawpile, with real-time online "whiteboard" drawing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Audacity Tools for Blender allows you to use Blender's video sequence editor in sync with Audacity for better audio filtering and more.
- See Public Domain Resources below for pre-made textures, 3D models, and more.
- OpenToonz (Morevna Edition) - 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. The Morevna Edition includes a more intuitive UI, brushes from MyPaint, an advanced color selector, and more.
- DWANGO's Effect Plugins is a collection of visual effect plugins for OpenToonz
- KumoWorks is a cloud rendering tool for OpenToonz animations
- 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.
- OBS Studio - A brilliant piece of software for livestreaming and video recording.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tenacity - A fork of Audacity from an older version (3.0.2), now taking the project in a new direction.
- Audacium - Another Audacity fork. Though no longer actively maintained, 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).
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.
- Zrythm - Automated and convenient workstation for music production.
- Helio - Remarkably intuitive and concise sequencer with helpful visualization tools.
- 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.
- Rosegarden - MIDI sequencer and editing tool for composers with classical music notation built-in.
- 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.
- Calf Studio Gear - Extensive pack of LV2 plugins including instruments and effects in modulation, delay, dynamics, EQ, and more.
- Socalabs Plugins - Collection of useful plugins including a great reimplementation of mverb, some basic effects, several synths inspired by retro video game consoles, utility plugins, and more.
- 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.
- IEM Plug-in Suite - Plugin suite comprised of a great multi-band compressor, encoders, decorders, and visualization tools.
- Zam-Plugins - Several audio plugins including a really nice dynamic EQ and more, all in LV2 or VST formats.
- Invada Studio - Pack of basic effects, filters, and more.
- x42 MIDI Filter Collection - More than 25 MIDI data filters.
- Linux Studio Plugins - Suite of excellent plugins made for Linux users.
- 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.
- Orchestools Genesyn 2 - Additive synth with 4 generators and 100 presets to play with.
- 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.
- DSP56300 - Emulating late '90s/early '00s VA Synths based on the Motorola 56300 chip, such as the Virus B and Virus C.
- Digits - Fantastic sounding Casio CZ synth emulation.
- 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.
- DrumGizmo - Drum sampler plugin with great samples and support for eDrum triggers (with positional sensitivity in the works).
- x42 AVL Drums - Drum sampler plugin with two great sounding kits.
- 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.
- x42 setBfree - Classic tonewheel organ, great for jazz, blues, and more.
- Orchestools - This is actually 4 plugins: Strings, Brass, Winds, and Percussion. Together, you will have all of the sounds of a symphony orchestra at your disposal.
- Drops - For easily processing samples and cutting loops.
- ninjas2 - Another easy sample slicer.
- SooperLooper - Real-time live looping for Linux and MacOS users.
- EQ10Q - Powerful and flexible 10-band parametric equalizer with filters.
- Luftikus - Maag-inspired, analogue style EQ.
- Squeezer - Flexible, all-purpose compression.
- abGate - Noise gate in LV2 format.
Delay and Reverb
- Cocoa Delay - Nice, warm delay plugin in Windows VST format.
- mverb - Great sounding, simple reverb plugin.
- CloudSeed - Vast and beautiful ambient reverb in VST format.
- Aether is a fork of Cloud Seed available in LV2 format.
- Teufelsberg Reverb - 6 distinctive reverb sounds captured at the Berlin surveillance tower.
- Dragonfly Reverb - A pack of reverbs including hall, plate, room, and reflections effects.
- CHOW - Distortion plugin for heavy degredation.
- C1Bitcrusher - Authentic sounding bitcrusher in VST2 format.
- x42 Auto Tune - Pitch correction.
- Autotalent - Pitch correction.
- 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.
- Wolf Shaper - Waveshaper with a graphic editor.
- ArgotLunar - Granular synthesis with lots of flexibility.
- AirWindows - Incredibly subtle, "subliminal" sound texturing plugin.
- PaulXStretch - Extreme time-stretching plugin.
- Flutterbird - Automated pitch and volume fluxuation.
- x42 Phase Rotate - Rotates the phase of a signal up to 180 degrees.
- x42 Whirl Speaker - Imitates the sound of Don Leslie's electromechanical rotating speaker.
- x42 Digital Peak Limiter - Tool for preventing clipping during mixing and mastering.
- x42 Meter Collection - Audio meters for dynamic range, phase, LUFS and more.
- 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.
- VCV Rack - An insanely powerful and configurable modular synth with tons of possible applications.
- VCVRack Library is a collection of plugins for VCVRack.
- Cardinal - VCV Rack in your browser!
- 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.
- Mixxx - Community-driven software with dozens of features for newbie DJs and master turntableists alike.
- 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.
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.
- Twine - Tool for developing non-linear, interactive fiction.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, and includes other features like Kanban and a real-time whiteboard aapplication.
- 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.
- LibreTranslate - Machine translation API for text and documents that is self-hostable, can be used offline, and has a free webapp.
- 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.
- Public APIs List on Github - Very long, organized list of free public APIs for your development projects.
- VSCodium - Forked version of Microsoft's open source VSCode, relicensed under the MIT license and without telemetry.
- Geany - Programmer's text editor and IDE that is lightweight, customizable, and supports many plugins.
- Notepad++ - Simple notepad and source code editor for Windows.
- penpot - Web-based design and prototyping platform made for cross-domain teams, a noteworthy alternative to Figma.
- Pencil Project - Cross-platform tool for making GUI prototypes.
- Alva - Tool for making "living" prototypes with working code components.
- Excalidraw - Generic, intuitive, in-browser sketching tool for quick concepting.
- Akira - Offline generic sketching tool, also great for concepting.
- Meld - Offline tool for comparing and/or merging files and folders on your sytem. Extremely useful for general organization and project management, and can be useful for lots of tasks outside of software development, too.
- 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).
- Godot's own Awesome Godot repo has a wide variety of free plugins listed.
- Keychain is a plugin that provides a control re-mapping system for the players of your game.
- GDevelop-extensions is a GitHub repo of open-source, community made extensions for GDevelop.
- Bevy - Exciting cross-platform, data-driven game engine for Rust developers, currently in active development, with a growing assortment of community plugins and assets available.
- The Unofficial Bevy Cheatbook has a list of excellent plugins, in addition to loads of instruction and documentation.
- 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.
- Fluent Behavior Tree - Behaviour tree library written in C# with a fluent API and good documentation.
- SimpleAI - Lightweight behavior tree written in C++ with optional LUA bindings.
- Bonsai - Behavior tree written in Rust with nice documentation.
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
- Tiled - Tilemap/level editor supported by tons of game development frameworks.
- LDtk - 2D level editor with an intuitive UI, simple export, and many other modern features.
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.
- Yarn Spinner - Tool for game writers to build branching dialogue and narratives for games.
Public Domain Resources
Please refer to the licensing information on each individual site for details.
- LOSPEC - Open source website with a community-built and searchable list of pixel art palettes, library of tutorials, and more.
- ForkAwesome - Open source fork of "FontAwesome," a stellar font and CSS toolkit.
- 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.
- OpenGameArt - Primarily 2D pixel/isometric/low poly art, effect animations, and more.
Music / Sound
- Audionautix - Free production music for any use (even commercial) as long as credit is provided, under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
- Creative Commons Jazz - It's exactly what it sounds like.
- digCCMixter - Another repository of free Creative Commons music intended for videos and games, credit to the original artist required.
- OpenMetalCast - No longer active, but a great repository of creative commons metal music.
- Scott Buckley's Music Library - Beautiful cinematic music released under CC-BY 4.0.
- Twin Musicom Catalog - Free music in a variety of moods and genres under CC-BY 3.0 US.
- yoitrax's Royalty Free Music - Cool instrumental hip-hop under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
- CGBookcase - 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.
- Craig Maloney's List of Openly Licensed RPG Systems - A list of TTRPG systems that can be freely adapted however you would like.
Places to publish your work!
- PixelFed - Fediverse image sharing platform (alternative to Instagram).
- PeerTube - Fediverse video sharing platform (alternative to YouTube).
- OwnCast - Self-hostable livestreaming platform (alternative to Twitch).
- Castopod - Tool to self-host your own podcasts.
- Rauversion - Open source, self-hostable music platform akin to Soundcloud.
- Funkwhale - Fediverse music sharing platform (alternative to GrooveShark).
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:
ADHDefy(codeberg: @ADHDefy, fediverse: @ADHDefy@koyu.space)
To the extent possible under law, the maintainers and other contributors have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.