What are the best free Adobe Creative Cloud alternatives?
Adobe Creative Cloud went down for 24 hours earlier, which means that creative brains around the world were desperately struggling to complete jobs that require the comprehensive suite of services.
The good news is that there are plenty of free alternatives professionals can use to get by and below is an extensive rundown of each product.
The Best Free Photoshop CC Replacement -- GIMP
Feature-wise there is nothing free that comes closer to Adobe’s creation than the Gimp freeware solution. It is available across Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and the most recent incarnation looks closer to Photoshop than ever before with a range of features that will have many users considering switching over for good.
For those that are slightly put off by the Gimp UI there is a Photoshop port that makes it look exactly the same and the new single-window mode makes it feel like a true replacement for Adobe’s product.
The Best Free Illustrator CC Replacement -- Inkscape
Vector-based graphics editing is Illustrator’s unique selling point (USP) and the good news is that there is another application in Inkscape that takes the selling out of the USP. The UI doesn’t have the wow factor of Adobe’s creation, however, Inkscape is a more than capable replacement and can perform all the import tasks of Illustrator and at a fraction of the cost.
It enables users to create everything from simple logo forms to complex graphics and its Gradient tool is comparable to Illustrator’s vaunted Gradient Mesh tool. Inkscape makes it simple to scale any drawings up or down and is really the only true, free alternative to Illustrator.
The Best Free InDesign CC Replacement -- Lucidpress
Alternatives to the newsroom favourite InDesign are slightly thinner on the ground than some of the elements of the Adobe Creative Cloud and one of the newest kids on the block, Lucidpress, is one of the best. Lucidpress looks and feels like a desktop publishing tool should and for anyone looking at using a tool on a casual basis it has a pick up and play factor that other tools, such as Scribus, don’t have.
It comes into its own where collaboration is concerned and using Google Drive it is easy to work with distributed teams and to adjust editing privileges easily. For those that want to extend the experience further, it also has paid options to offer that little bit more functionality and personalization.
The Best Free Premiere Pro CC Replacement -- Lightworks
Premiere Pro has set quite the gold standard for video editing alongside the likes of Apple’s Final Cut Pro and the good news is that there are a couple of free offerings out there that can replicate the experience.
Lightworks, which is only available for Windows users, is the best of these and even though there is a professional version available, it still offers a lot of video editing options. Mac users can turn to the simple VideoLAN Movie Creator that offers very simple editing of videos but has nothing on the level of the tool kit that comes with Premiere Pro CC.
The Best Free Dreamweaver CC Replacement -- Microsoft Expression Web 4.0 [Free Version]
An all encompassing replacement for Dreamweaver’s what you see is what you get [WYSIWYG] product for making websites is extremely hard to locate and as such one of the best options out there is Microsoft Expression Web 4. The solution, which was previously a paid-for service, is no longer eligible for technical support, though still has the same features that have led many to compare it to Dreamweaver in the past.
It has full support for current web editing standards and the UI is clear enough that it will remind many of Dreamweaver. It pulls on the HTML5 standard, supports custom workspaces for graphics, and has extensive support for Silverlight.
The Best Free AfterEffects CC Replacement -- Blender
When it comes to post production video editing and special effects, Adobe already offers it on a shoe-string when compared to many other companies out there. This doesn’t mean that open source services haven’t sprung up in the mean time and the best of these to exist is Blender.
Anyone that downloads Blender should be prepared to learn all the in’s and out’s but once that’s done, it has pretty much everything that is required, is great for 3D and once mastered it will seem simple.
One of the hardest replacements to be procured is one that does a good job of replicating Flash and the difficulty comes from the fact that Flash is an Adobe standard.
There are myriad of alternatives out there that replicate different parts of Flash and one of the best that we have come across is Stencyl, which is primarily used to create games. It is an extremely helpful tool that is very similar to how Flash works and there is no requirement to be able to code before using it.
When it comes to making 2D animations, Synfig Studio is the best free option and can do almost everything that Flash does. Flash Develop, meanwhile, is what you want if ActionScript programming is more your thing and is built especially for ActionScript alone.
The Best Free Acrobat XI Pro Replacement -- PDFescape
Replacing the extensive skill set of Acrobat for free is one of the harder tasks and the free services available are rather limited in what they can do, but should be more than enough during a short 24-hour outage. The best out there is the cloud-based PDFescape that allows up to 10 files of 10MB or 100 pages to be uploaded and then edited.
It offers support for basic annotation, very simple pages can be created from scratch and then text, art and data entry fields can be added. A premium version is available that up’s the ante to 100 larger files but it does cost $20 (£12) a month.
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