Linux software for your inner artist

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Get Creative

Whether you're into audio, video, print, or something else, many projects are available for Linux to help you develop your artistic creativity. In this issue, we cover a few projects that stand out.

Linux is probably not the first operating system you'd think of when considering starting an artistic project. You may think Windows has more apps, or Mac more pedigree.

But, here's the thing: Development of open source applications for artistic creativity has exploded in the past 5 to 10 years. You would have to be very particular indeed not to find an app for your Ubuntu machine that didn't satisfy your personal artistic needs.

Not only that, some of these Free Software projects have gone mainstream in a big way. Take Blender [1], for example, the 3D editor, animator, renderer, and compositor. It is used far and wide in advertising, music videos, and film … and it is a standard package, installable with one click, from your Ubuntu repositories.

Speaking of film, Kdenlive [2] is an excellent non-linear video editor that can do much more than help you edit your home movies. Pair it up with Natron (see the article about this amazing program in this issue) and you have a nearly professional video-editing studio right on your desktop. Need special effects? Fire up Blender again and learn about camera tracking and insert 3D rendered objects seamlessly into your movie.

If you're more into pictorial art, learn about Inkscape, Krita [3], and GIMP [4], all of which have been covered in Ubuntu User or in our sister publication, Linux Magazine , at some point. In this issue, we'll be looking at how to set up a workflow between Inkscape, the default Linux vector art design tool (used to design our Utopic Unicorn on page 75, by the way), and Scribus, the go-to tool for desktop publishing in Linux, and what you need to do to get your art onto paper.

If you're into audio, check out Rosegarden [5] and LMMS [6] for creating music, Ardour [7] for editing, and the brand new OpenAV suite, which allows you to create and manipulate audio not only in your recording studio, but also when you perform live. The ideas behind OpenAV are so intriguing that we got the developer, the very talented Harry van Haaren, to write a whole article and create a project especially for us. Just turn the page to find out how it all works. We also had the chance to talk to him and get his feedback on all the "audio-on-Linux" scene.

Unfortunately, we also had to leave so much out. How could we not talk about 2D animation and the excellent Synfig Studio [8]? Synfig used to be a cool software tool as a concept, but it was a nightmare to use. However, as with Blender, all that has changed and it has now gotten much better and easier – a prime example of how open source developers sometimes do listen to their fanbase. And, if you're interested in audio theory, you'd kick yourself if you didn't learn what SuperCollider [9] is all about, even though it's not being featured in our cover story. I wrote about SuperCollider in Linux Magazine some months back [10], and the amount of stuff you can get out of creating, mixing, and manipulating basic soundwaves is mind-blowing.

In fact, there are so many projects for Linux to help you develop your creativity, it would take several issues to cover them all, and then several issues more to see how to exploit them to their full potential. I mean, wouldn't it be cool to learn how to use the old computers lying about in your basement as a render farm for Blender and Natron instead of tying up your main work machine? Wouldn't it be fun to interface sensors with SuperCollider and turn your body into a musical instrument? Exactly.

At least you're aware now that all these resources exist. If you're a restless spirit with the urge to create, check out all of this wonderful software and go full artistic on your Linux.

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