Theresa Harvard Johnson

Copyright 2012 Theresa Harvard Johnson

Serious Christian illustrators, writers, authors and entrepreneurs, don't let the brand names fool you!

There are tons of quality, FREE software available to you across the internet that will enable you to create quality graphic and publishing projects for little or no cost at all. The programs I'm going to recommend are one's that I presently work with, and have used to generate documents, graphics and designs of my own over the years.

While I also have the "name brand software" loaded on my super-amazing computing system (which I upgrade and tweak myself), I can tell you that the differences between some of these programs boil down to this: "Can you live without one feature over another to save some cash?"

If you're genuinely interested in saving hundreds of dollars on software programs like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Flash, Corel Draw, Swish, Microsoft Office, QuarkXpress and other high-end programs that can cost you anywhere from $149 to $800 to buy a single program or an entire suite -- then this is an article you can't afford not to read.

In writing this, I'm not gaining anything. I simply want you to know what is out there -- and is readily available to you. Your only investment is in the time it takes to read this article, download and install the software, and try it out.


Just as it has become almost obsolete for a beginning, budget-limited author to hire a web-designer; it is also quickly becoming unnecessary to pour your budget-limited finances into expensive software. Why hire someone to design a webpage when you can have a webpage like blog with an endless supply of features?

In this instance, the software packages that I am recommending have file settings that will allow you to not only open  and edit existing projects from these brand name programs, but also save them in popular file formats for those who may not have or use the software you're using. There are also export functions to save your files in "print-ready" and/or "press-ready" formats.

The computer geniuses offering these software have done a great job. In some cases, we are looking at an issue of choosing "generic or name brand" -- just as you would at your local pharmacy. In other instances, there may be less features or limited features verses what you are used to.

But in my opinion, those differences can be very small when considering the term -- free. Who knows, these software options for some might help them get over the hump until they are able purchase the name brands. For others, this is an opportunity to finally say good by to companies you believe may have robbed you with their ridiculous pricing. (I fall in that category most of the time --- especially with companies like Microsoft that want you to believe you can't live without them.) If nothing else, it's worth a look!

Below is short list of my absolute favorite free programs; along with their name brand equivalent or competitor. For an extensive list, simply check out the"Free Software" section of the Free Resource Library for Christian writers on our website.

Microsoft Office Home & Student ($149) vs. LibreOffice (Free)

LibreOffice is the power-packed free, libre and open source personal productivity suite for Windows, Macintosh and GNU/Linux, that gives you six feature-rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base. In addition, you can download plug-ins to increase the functionality of the software.


Adobe Photoshop CS5 ($699) vs. Gimp Shop (Free)

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open source software image retouching and editing tool and is freely available in versions tailored for most popular operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and Linux. GIMP has tools used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, resizing, cropping, photo-montages (combining multiple images), converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks. Animated images such as GIF and MPEG files can be created using an animation plugin. Web:

Acid Pro 7 ($300) vs. Audacity Audio (Free)

(I highly recommend this software.) Audacity is a free, easy-to-use audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to:

  • Record live audio.
  • Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs.
  • Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files.
  • Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together.
  • Change the speed or pitch of a recording.
  • Add new effects with LADSPA plug-ins.
  • And more!


Adobe Illustrator ($564) & Corel Draw Graphics Suite ($499) vs. InkScape (Free)
(I highly recommend this software.) Inkscape is a program that gives amazing vector effects. It is designed on a cross-vector platform that allows the user to see effects applied in real time. The advanced features it includes are arbitrary transformations, opacity, and gradients. It has all the capabilities of Corel draw or adobe illustrator.  



QuarkXpress 9 ($849) or Adobe Indesign CS5 ($699) vs. Scribus

Scribus is an Open Source program that brings professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation and Windows desktops with a combination of press-ready output and new approaches to page design.


(Quick Note: With the exception of LibreOffice, the recommended software programs are not necessarily for beginners; rather, they are for those who already have some knowledge of graphic design software.)

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