Design Art
Credit: kami 神 arte (cc)

Don't give up so soon on those award-winning ideas swirling around in your head. We're no longer in an age where money buys every opportunity. The indies have the well-deserved door opened now to release media that might have otherwise sat on a shelf for far longer than would be fair. If you've long dreamt of launching a magazine, starting an animated web series, or creating a feature-length 3D animation, the only thing you need to invest to make it happen is sweat-equity.

A crowd-favorite with good reason, Gimp makes it possible for you to do just about anything with a digital image, and for those few things it doesn't include, there are plug-ins available and likely in the making (thought I do hope the "export layers as .pdf" function will be available sooner than later).

Gimp is primarily an image editing program that works with still layers in the tradition of Photoshop (thought the layout is very different if you don't use the fanmade "Gimpshop" version), but you can also render and organize rudimentary gimp animations (comes in handy if your web banners need something extra).

Scribus is, in many ways, a desktop publisher's dream. Magazines have used it to compile issues. Brochures, menus, and simpler media also come off without a hitch. It can be glitchy at imes, but you'll get used to that with little grumbling considering all that's been placed at your fingertips for free.

A few things the program could use? The ability to import and flesh out .doc or .odt files would help novelists add images to their files with less effort. Additionally, the ability to wrap text around images would further optimize the ability to give newsletters and magazines an extra visual edge.

Considered by some to rival and even surpass Adobe Illustrator's trace function, Inkscape is another gratis opensource vector program that makes it possible to tend to a project's graphic needs without dropping hundreds on commercial platforms. Inkscape comes with a substantial user manual, though. You might want to set aside a good amount of time giving it a read. Enjoying the video tutorials uploaded by seasoned inkscapers will also help you navigate the software's design functions.

Potentially an animator's dream, Pencil is opensource splendor for Linux, Mac, and Windows platforms that works with your hand drawn animations in bitmap formats and digital vectors. It isn't a vector-rooted flash mimick. It's raison d'etre is to aid traditional 2d animation-techniques. Its creator advises, on the program's site, that it isn't trying to replace commercial tools. Its vintage-reverent fixation on 2D means it isn't trying to muscle in on the Blender program either.

The 3D animation software behind Elephant's Dream and Sintel is available for Linux and all the other major operating systems under the GNU license, and it's pure technological magik. If you believe you have the answer to an indie film destined to surpass the likes of Shrek, you'll have zero problems putting together a film with animation that rivals its quality on a leagues-smaller budget. Blender's sleek, glitch-free tool kit interface takes care of modeling and sequence-editing for the easeful processing of incredibly complex animations.