One of the big features of the cyber dystopia is that everything has a price. Every market is eaten up by giant corporations and any scrappy underdogs who set out to make a new market quickly get gobbled up or put out of business by the corporate titans that run the world. 

It’s because of this that free tools for creators bring me deep and abiding joy. They’re like independent acts of rebellion against the belief that spending power is the only power that matters. These tools help even the playing field. They’re a testament to the good out there in the world. They represent a whole ARMY of people who put in work and hours and resources and asked nothing in return so that other creators could be empowered.

I will grant you that many “free” tools out there are just lead generators to try and get you to spend money later on down the road. It’s also worth noting that I’m not saying every tool out there should be free. People gotta eat, and pay rent, and get sick sometimes, and take breaks, and all the other things that cost money in our society.

So with those disclaimers in mind, let’s get busy with our rebellion. Here’s a collection of free tools and resources for creators new and experienced alike to make use of.

Image Libraries

Unsplash

https://unsplash.com/

A library of really gorgeous photographs that are 100% free, no strings attached. (Incidentally, that’s where all the photos in this post come from!)

Photopin

http://photopin.com/

A large database with a wide variety of images. Be careful to check the individual license on each picture before using it. 

Wikipedia Commons

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Another photo databank with a wide range of content and quality. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

Rijksstudio 

https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/search?ii=0&p=1

Contains a large selection of museum works. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

The Met

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!?searchField=All&showOnly=openAccess&sortBy=Relevance&offset=0&pageSize=0

Another large selection of museum works. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

British Library Collection on Flickr

https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/

The British Library has a wide collection of museum pieces on their Flickr account, many of which have no copyright restrictions. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

New York Public Library

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/

A digitized collection from the New York Public Library. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

Library of Congress

https://www.loc.gov/collections/

A large collection of digitized historic photographs and other historic works. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

NASA

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/index.html

NASA has released a large collection of space photos to the public, many of which are accompanied by a short explanation of the phenomenon in the picture. Check the individual license on each picture before using it.

Fortepan

http://www.fortepan.hu/?view=all

A database largely comprised of Hungarian private collections. From what I understand it’s free to use with proper attribution, but get a translator to double check that for you.

Pexels

https://www.pexels.com/

A broad database of free-to-use pictures with a handful of conditions.

Pixabay

https://pixabay.com/

A broad database of free-to-use pictures with a handful of conditions.

Audio

BenSound

https://www.bensound.com/?fbclid=IwAR2FFwBpMZ4X3e-479Sj4CgES6VAD_dkh3N_hHT1DlIUR3C8ZLuHvuz-XSA

A database of royalty-free music. Check the license for individual tracks before using it.

Image Editors

Gimp

https://www.gimp.org/

A free image editor similar to Photoshop.

Krita

Image editor similar to Photoshop. Voted the best free painting software in 2019.

Canva

http://canva.com/

Simple-to-use design tool for image editing and basic layout. This is an up-sale model. The base version is free, but they’ll encourage you to sign up for a subscription.

3D Book Cover Design

https://diybookcovers.com/3Dmockups/

100% free 3D book cover generator for physical and digital mockups.

MyPaint

http://mypaint.org/

A digital painting tool for graphics tablets.

Text Editors/Word Processors

LibreOffice

https://www.libreoffice.org/

A free office suite and successor to OpenOffice.

LaTeX

https://www.latex-project.org/

A Free word processor used primarily for technical and scientific documentation.

Layout

Scribus

Free open-source publishing tool with an emphasis on reliable color selections and layouts when you go to print.

Anatomicair

A free zine template for use in Microsoft Word for zines up to 40 pages long.

Scrivener (free on Linux)

https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview

Word processor and organizer. Free for Linux users.

Organizers/File Sharing

Evernote 

https://evernote.com/

Note-taking organizer. The base version is free but there’s a paid upgrade option.

Google Drive

https://www.google.com/drive/download/

A free file sharing and storage system to Gmail account holders. Paid storage upgrades are available.

Dropbox

https://www.dropbox.com/individual

A file sharing service. Paid storage upgrades are available.

Git

https://git-scm.com/

Free version-control software for coding projects.

GitHub

https://git-scm.com/

A project management service for coding.

FreePlane 

https://www.freeplane.org/wiki/index.php/Home

A free information and idea mapping program.

Google Draw 

https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1OjOUoFAcepzkEcYKi4fIbwGEeKruKZAhH_mX8m4ltLE/edit

A free idea mapping tool for Google account holders.

Operating System

Ubuntu

https://ubuntu.com/

A free operating system.

That’s all the free tools I have for now. Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s available out there. If there’s a tool you’d like to see added to this list, shoot me a message on social media and I’ll add it when I get a chance. Happy creating, everyone!