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A good set of freeware 2D and 3D drawing tools:

2D Drawing

Paint (Windows)

Microsoft's basic drawing package. Has basic tools for painting geometric objects, and basic pens and brushes. Once you have drawn a particular element, it is incorporated into the bitmap, and cannot be moved or edited. Only a single canvas, no concept of layers.

Conclusion: Could be used for drawing basic features that could then be pulled into another package for blending, retouching, and overlaying/merging, but there are better tools out there for more advanced drawing.

Paint.Net (www.getpaint.net)

A slightly more advanced drawing package than Paint. Although doesn't have as many geometric shapes available, has an array of brush fill patterns, and includes layers. Also has some basic but quite good colouring and filtering effects (colour filter, motion blur, un-focus, bulge, dents, emboss).

Pencil (www.windows7download.com/win7-pencil/qlffzabd.html)

Quite a nice little "traditional animation" tool. Basically, only has a very basic set of pens and brushes for free hand drawing and painting, with the addition of being able to add layers, and a frame time line.

InkScape (www.inkscape.org)

A vector graphics drawing tool (draws geometric shapes and smooth freehand lines that can be edited via nodes). Has lots of useful tools and filters such as blur, object shading, texturing, fading, roughen edges etc. Files are saved as *.svg (vector graphics xml file) but can be exported in *.png bitmap format. Can also import bitmaps to filter etc. Can become quite slow if you add filtering effects to large images and try to move them.

Conclusion: Very good for drawing geometric shapes, smooth editable freehand lines, and has some very good filters for texturing and effects. But not very good for any free hand feature drawing, or texture featuring.

User Manual:  http://tavmjong.free.fr/INKSCAPE/MANUAL/html/index.php

Gimp (www.gimp.org)

A graphics editor for image editing and retouching. Can create photo montages and convert file formats. Can also create basic animated images in *.gif format. Can use layers for overlays, masking, bump mapping, or merging (seems very difficult to work with layers though, switching between layers is tedious, no indicator of which layer you are on, or easily viewing different layers). Drawing tools seem very limited. It has a selection of pencils and brushes, but no tools for creating straight lines, shapes, etc. It does have blurring, smudging, burning, and other tools.

Conclusion: Basically a photo enhancement tool, and not a drawing tool. Seems could be good for taking different textures and creating merging or filtering effects, but not very good for adding hand drawn features.

User Manual:  http://docs.gimp.org/2.6/en/index.html

Corel (www.corel.com)


ArtWeaver (www.artweaver.de)

Seems to be my favourite drawing tool so far. Has great image drawing and construction tools. A wide selection of brushes and blenders for freehand drawing (Although not quite as good as Corel). Has easy layer usage and tools. Has a wide range of filters and image adjustment tools. Has drawing tablet and pen sensitivity support. Can be unstable though when importing lots of images or using lots of layers.

2D Image Conversion

Top OCR (www.topocr.com)

Converts a photo or image of a text document into an editable text format, works pretty well, although depending on the quality of the image/text does need correcting (can copy newspaper articles with a bit of correction).

Foto Sketcher (www.fotosketcher.com)

Takes a photo and can add loads of effects to the image to make it into a water colour, oil painting, abstracting, canvas texturing, can make some nice family photo's look stylish and artistic.

3D Drawing

Blender (www.blender.org)

The best freeware 3D animation package, for creating 3D models, texturing, creating animations, and rendering. Watch some of their demo animations, pretty amazing.

Autodesk 3DS Max (www.autodesk.co.uk)

All told, more user friendly and advanced than Blender, but not freeware.

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