Tools

Sometimes you need the right TOOL to make your idea come true. Individual circumstances and technical requirements of schools, universities, colleges, or art classes must be considered. Take a look at our list – there might be something that perfectly matches your needs.

Categories
Difficulty
System
Access

3D

ART.SPACES by Kunstmatrix is a web app that, in its free version, enables you to present up to 10 artworks in a 3D exhibition space. There are different exhibition spaces to choose from. With ART.SPACES, curating can be practiced or a student’s coursework can be presented.

Free and open-source desktop app Blender is a 3D graphics suite that features a range of techniques for modeling and texturing 3D models. By using a polygon mesh structure, it is possible to track every step of the three-dimensional processing. Besides, the program enables you to create 3D as well as 2D animations by means of video editing tools and two rendering formats.

Tinkercad is a collection of various free web apps, specially developed for learners and educators. Simple 3D objects can be rendered directly in the browser and subsequently printed with a 3D printer or cut out with a laser cutter. In combination with an iPad, the AR mode can be used to place the objects in the real physical space. With Tinkercad it is also possible to simulate electronic circuits and to write small programs using code blocks.

ZBrushCoreMini, a free desktop app, can be used to create complex three-dimensional works of art. The digital editing is reminiscent of analog molding with clay. The app’s special feature is the polygon mesh: by dragging, pressing or squeezing, the object’s shape can be altered and refined. For this purpose, seven predefined brush tools are provided. The resulting sculptures can also be rendered for 3D printing. The premium version of ZBrushCore featuring more brush tools and color options is available as a fee-based, monthly subscription.

Animation

Animation Desk is a free mobile app for creating frame-by-frame animations and storyboards. The app is simple in design and provides a wide range of brush tips and fill-in tools for drawing. In addition, features like selection and copy tools, layers, an image timeline or onion skinning support the workflow. In Animation Desk, there are several export options for videos; moreover, it is possible to export layers, PDFs, or GIFs. For Windows users, Animation Desk is also available as a desktop version.

Artivive is a free mobile app used by museums and artists not only for classical forms but also large murals in public spaces. When using the Artivive app on a smartphone or tablet, a digital layer is superimposed onto the analog, physical image as an augmentation. Artivive Bridge is the corresponding free augmented reality web app to prepare the analog, physical images for later use with the Artivive mobile app. In Artivive Bridge, these images can be augmented with a digital layer – a static image or an animation – by simple technical means.

Free and open-source desktop app Blender is a 3D graphics suite that features a range of techniques for modeling and texturing 3D models. By using a polygon mesh structure, it is possible to track every step of the three-dimensional processing. Besides, the program enables you to create 3D as well as 2D animations by means of video editing tools and two rendering formats.

DitherPaint is a free web app for 1-bit drawing in the tradition of pixel art. Tools include various brush tips as well as tools for cutting, copying, pasting and inverting. In addition, you can draw with predefined patterns and create flashing animations by typing in simple sequences of numbers. The images can be saved as PNGs and the animations as GIFs.

FlipAnim is a free web app that can be used to create very simple digital flip-books directly in a browser. There are various tools and brush tips to choose from, and it is possible to work with different layers. The finished animation can be downloaded or shared as a GIF with the FlipAnim watermark.

GIPHY is an extensive online database of GIFs and digital stickers that doubles as a search engine. With no registration, theme-based GIFs can be shared with other people via social media and various messenger services. In the GIPHY mobile app, registered users can create and save GIFs. They can draw from private image or other web content, compress and loop it and download their creations.

Krita is a free and open-source raster graphics editor. Designed primarily for digital painting and 2D animation, this desktop app provides a variety of brushes and tools. Furthermore, it supports the creation of large-scale animations and their export as video files. Krita’s interface can be customized according to your requirements.

Mutsuacen is a free web app for experimental animation. With only a few tools, lines and shapes can be drawn playfully. The respective shapes and lines can be moved by changing given parameters such as “speed” or “amplitude”. The hereby created short animated loops can be exported as GIFs or shared via link.

Pixel Studio is a free mobile and desktop app for drawing and animating pixel art. The app has a variety of tools and supports working with layers. In addition, it offers useful tools, such as onion skinning and a range of different output formats. You can easily sync your work between different devices and even platforms. To share works, you can join the Pixel Art Community Pixel Network™. Pixel Studio PRO is available for purchase.

Pixilart is a free pixel art web and mobile app for drawing images and creating sequences for animated GIFs. Their size is limited to 700 pixels in width and height. At the same time, Pixilart is also a platform where all created artworks may be commented on, shared and listed in galleries by the community. It is there that Pixilart also hosts daily drawing contests based on various keywords.

Stop Motion Studio’s free trial version offers all the tools needed to create stop motion animations with a smartphone or tablet. Its mobile app allows for single images captured by the camera to be edited immediately. Single frames can be arranged precisely with fade-in grids and onion skinning. A sequence of captured images can be played instantly in the app, any erroneous images can be deleted. It is both possible to export animations as video files as well as to export single frames as an ordered list to be further edited with other software. The full version of Stop Motion Studio provides useful additional features such as the use of a green screen and is also available as a desktop app.

Synfig Studio is a free and open-source desktop app for 2D animation. The elaborate software provides not only an extended toolbox but also layers, filters and even tools for animating bones and faces. The finished animation can be exported in different formats: .GIF, .AVI and .PNG.

Wick Editor is a free and open-source web app with a programming environment, designed for animations, games and interactive projects. The figures and objects drawn directly in the browser can be animated using keyframes, supported by practical features such as onion skinning. An integrated library provides video and audio files that can be embedded. The finished projects can be exported as GIFs or videos with H.264 codec. Wick Editor Beta is also available as a desktop app.

Artificial Intelligence

This person doesn’t exist is a website that shows random portraits of persons that were generated by artificial intelligence and do not exist in real life. With each refresh, a new person is displayed; the images can be downloaded as JPGs. In a pop-up, the website provides links to explanatory videos, code templates for experiments, as well as to other versions of it that generate, for example, artworks or horses that do not exist in real life.

Augmented Reality

ART.SPACES by Kunstmatrix is a web app that, in its free version, enables you to present up to 10 artworks in a 3D exhibition space. There are different exhibition spaces to choose from. With ART.SPACES, curating can be practiced or a student’s coursework can be presented.

Artivive is a free mobile app used by museums and artists not only for classical forms but also large murals in public spaces. When using the Artivive app on a smartphone or tablet, a digital layer is superimposed onto the analog, physical image as an augmentation. Artivive Bridge is the corresponding free augmented reality web app to prepare the analog, physical images for later use with the Artivive mobile app. In Artivive Bridge, these images can be augmented with a digital layer – a static image or an animation – by simple technical means.

Coding

CodePen is a free web app developed mainly for front-end developers. With an integrated development environment, the code editor enables you to create, test and find front-end code for any project. CodePen is great for detecting bugs as well as for collaboration and mutual inspiration. On the platform, users can create “pens”, code snippets of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These “pens” can be displayed in the user’s profile, receive feedback from other users, and be further edited at any time.

Scratch is not only a free graphical programming language but also an online platform and an open-source app, primarily aimed at an age group between 8 and 16 years. With Scratch, children and teenagers can quickly and easily learn how to program stories, interactive games, and animations. The results can be shared with the online community to gain insights into the works and codes of others, too.

SonicPi is a free and open-source desktop app that enables you to create music by coding or by using prewritten code from a library. You can also add your own samples to the library. The software focuses on iterative learning and immediate feedback – the written code can be played and listened to at any time. SonicPi helps to understand basic programming concepts, such as sequencing, iteration, selection, functions, data structures or algorithms and provides an insight into creating and performing electronic music.

Tinkercad is a collection of various free web apps, specially developed for learners and educators. Simple 3D objects can be rendered directly in the browser and subsequently printed with a 3D printer or cut out with a laser cutter. In combination with an iPad, the AR mode can be used to place the objects in the real physical space. With Tinkercad it is also possible to simulate electronic circuits and to write small programs using code blocks.

Twine is a free and open-source desktop and web app for creating nonlinear, interactive stories such as text adventures. Individual text passages or words can be connected via links. Different narrative strands can thus be interwoven in a complex way, run parallel, or even lead to alternative endings. For simple stories, no programming skills are necessary – more complex stories, however, can be extended with “variables”, images, sounds, and videos. For the latter, knowledge of HTML and CSS is required. Twine projects are saved and exported as HTML files and can be opened and played in any browser.

W3Schools is an online e-learning platform. Here, different programming languages not only for web design and web development but also for hardware can be learned step by step, supported by tutorials. Using the editor, tasks can be carried out and results tested for their functionality.

Collaboration

AnswerGarden is a free web app for creating collaborative mindmaps, brainstorming sessions, taking votes and giving and collecting feedback. Users can respond to a question or topic simultaneously and from any location. AnswerGarden is also available as a mobile app for the iPad.

Conceptboard is a free web app for creating whiteboards. Various elements, templates and graphics can be dragged and dropped into the respective board where they can be modified, filled with content and arranged as desired. Additionally, new elements can be created, and content can be uploaded. It is possible to share the boards, collaboratively work on them, communicate with one another, and to assign tasks. Boards can be saved and downloaded.

Dérive is a free mobile app that turns the concept of unplanned and casual exploration of urban spaces into a card game. On individual cards, player are given small tasks, the findings of which determine their further route through the city. There are different ready-to-play decks: basic card decks, location-specific card decks, or ones that focus on environmentalism. In addition, users can create their own decks dedicated to certain topics or locations and play in teams.

Etherpad is a free and open-source web app for collaborative, real-time text creation and editing. It is very straightforward and supports numerous practical tools, such as varying colors for authors, several text export options, a document history, and a chat plug-in. In order to use Etherpad, just pick one of the publicly available instances (e.g. https://etherpad.wikimedia.org) or install it on your server.

Excalidraw is a free and open-source web app for collaborative work on whiteboards. Texts, sketches and geometric shapes can be created in real-time, and it is possible to add your images to the board. Excalidraw is also suitable for meetings or joint brainstorming, whereas the outcome can be saved and shared via link. The fee-based version Excalidraw+ offers additional features.

FigJam, a free web app by Figma, is a whiteboard tool that enables exchange and collaborative work via a shared workspace. Contributions can be composed, edited and commented with just little effort yet still visually appealing. Depending on your requirements (e.g. feedback round), ready-to-use templates can help you get started quickly. All whiteboards and imported files are stored in a cloud within FigJam. Using the app requires registration; only a limited number of boards can be created in the free version.

Figma is a sophisticated web and desktop app, free to use with an EDU license, consisting of a vector graphics editor, a whiteboard app and a digital product prototyping app. Figma is mainly used to create interactive interface designs for websites and apps. Its core concept is to enable real-time online collaboration so that everyone’s actions and changes are immediately visible to others. Figma may be used to create graphs, maps, and virtual spaces that can be organized into layers, groups, or pages. Figma is also useful for creating interactive presentations, as users can define clickable areas of their work.

Miro is a free web and mobile app for creating and editing digital whiteboards collaboratively. Images and other files are easily embedded into your workspace. Existing widgets, such as arrows, sticky notes, and more, are useful for clear visualization. A built-in video chat feature allows for an exchange of ideas between all collaborators or in individual groups. The workspace can be exported as a PDF or JPG, which helps to document the work process. Three sequential fee-based versions of the app offer more advanced functionality through plug-ins and unlimited whiteboard creation.

Hubs, an open-source project by Mozilla, allows for virtual meeting spaces to be created directly in the browser. The free web app can be used for collaboration and communication within groups. For this purpose, already existing spaces can be used as well as ones that are created from scratch. PDFs, images, videos, audio files, 3D models, drawings, interactive texts or webcam videos can be shared. For creating own sceneries and spaces, Hubs provides the web app Spoke.

Ohyay is a free web application and platform for designing virtual spaces that can be used for events as well as online teaching and meetings. Due to its comprehensive design and interaction possibilities, Ohyay enables its users to create extraordinary video chat settings. Ohyay has a very steep learning curve; the creation of workspaces is particularly demanding.

Padlet is a free, collaborative app for sharing and organizing digital content online that provides intuitive ways to visually organize images, texts, videos, links, etc. These elements can be arranged as desired on a quasi whiteboard, along a timeline or as a feed, storyboard, or map. Connections may be marked by arrows (with or without labels), which makes the app suitable for creating multimedia mind or concept maps. Padlet provides several options to adapt the app to the users’ requirements (layout and format, anonymous mode, voting and commenting feature on/off etc.). Results can be shared via link or exported in various formats. The app’s free version does not offer the software’s full scope.

Sketchboard is a free web app that can be used to create whiteboards individually or collaboratively. For this purpose, various elements and templates are provided that can be added via drag and drop and then modified. You may also create new shapes yourself. The individual elements can be connected, arranged as desired and filled with content. The whiteboards’ privacy settings can be established as private, visible for your team only, or public. In Sketchbook’s free version, there are some limitations.

Your World of Text is a free and open-source web app for experimental and collaborative text creation. It is based on an infinite white webpage that is simultaneously editable by any visitor. You can create texts or typographic drawings anywhere on the page. To create a new blank page, simply update the existing URL after the slash with a new name or any combination of characters. Other existing text worlds can thus be easily found, viewed, and edited.

Drawing & Painting

Affinity Photo, available as a fee-based desktop or iPad app, is part of the Affinity suite and serves as a professional photo and image editor. It not only offers a very comprehensive range of tools for drawing, selecting, retouching or masking but also for working with layers, vectors, or text. Additionally, it is stacked with useful features, such as batch processing, lens correction and plenty of filters. Raw image files are supported, too.

Animation Desk is a free mobile app for creating frame-by-frame animations and storyboards. The app is simple in design and provides a wide range of brush tips and fill-in tools for drawing. In addition, features like selection and copy tools, layers, an image timeline or onion skinning support the workflow. In Animation Desk, there are several export options for videos; moreover, it is possible to export layers, PDFs, or GIFs. For Windows users, Animation Desk is also available as a desktop version.

Coolors is a free web app for generating color palettes. It can be used as an inspiration for color selection, be it for graphic or web design or digital painting. On the one hand, the app features a large library of color palettes, on the other, it allows for users to create their own color palettes starting from a base color. In addition, Coolors can convert photos into color palettes and provides a “Color picker” (a color output tool for photos and graphics), a generator for color gradients, gradient palettes and a “Color Contrast Checker” (for determining ideal color contrasts). The app can adjust colors to different visual impairments. Coolors is also available as an Adobe and Chrome extension, as well as a mobile app for iOS.

DitherPaint is a free web app for 1-bit drawing in the tradition of pixel art. Tools include various brush tips as well as tools for cutting, copying, pasting and inverting. In addition, you can draw with predefined patterns and create flashing animations by typing in simple sequences of numbers. The images can be saved as PNGs and the animations as GIFs.

Dotgrid is a free and open-source desktop app for creating vector graphics such as logos, pictograms, and types. The software provides a small selection of tools and supports working with layers. In addition, features such as mirroring and polysymmetrical drawing can be used.

FlipAnim is a free web app that can be used to create very simple digital flip-books directly in a browser. There are various tools and brush tips to choose from, and it is possible to work with different layers. The finished animation can be downloaded or shared as a GIF with the FlipAnim watermark.

FontStruct is a free web app for creating simple fonts. From the tool palette, various geometric shapes can be selected. Using these basic elements as building blocks, individual glyphs are assembled. Additional features, such as grids and guides or mirroring and rotating the basic elements, support the workflow. Finished fonts are exported as TTF (TrueType Font) and can be installed and used immediately on any computer. FontStruct also provides the option of publishing your creations under a CC license.

GIMP is a free and open-source desktop app for professional image editing. Its toolbox is very comprehensive and enables users to select, transform or crop images. For editing and retouching, there are photo filters, color correctors, as well as layers and masking modes. Its large selection of brush tips makes GIMP suitable for digital painting or illustration. Additionally, GIMP offers the possibility to create short GIF animations. GIMP can export files as .JPG, .GIF, .TIFF, .PDF and more, and can be extended with over 100 plug-ins.

Krita is a free and open-source raster graphics editor. Designed primarily for digital painting and 2D animation, this desktop app provides a variety of brushes and tools. Furthermore, it supports the creation of large-scale animations and their export as video files. Krita’s interface can be customized according to your requirements.

Mutsuacen is a free web app for experimental animation. With only a few tools, lines and shapes can be drawn playfully. The respective shapes and lines can be moved by changing given parameters such as “speed” or “amplitude”. The hereby created short animated loops can be exported as GIFs or shared via link.

Photopea is a free web app for editing raster and vector graphics. It supports a wide range of image file formats to be opened, edited and converted directly in the browser. The app features numerous tools for professional photo and image editing – you can crop or mask images and work with layers. In addition, there is a wide range of brush tips for creating illustrations.

Pixel Studio is a free mobile and desktop app for drawing and animating pixel art. The app has a variety of tools and supports working with layers. In addition, it offers useful tools, such as onion skinning and a range of different output formats. You can easily sync your work between different devices and even platforms. To share works, you can join the Pixel Art Community Pixel Network™. Pixel Studio PRO is available for purchase.

Pixilart is a free pixel art web and mobile app for drawing images and creating sequences for animated GIFs. Their size is limited to 700 pixels in width and height. At the same time, Pixilart is also a platform where all created artworks may be commented on, shared and listed in galleries by the community. It is there that Pixilart also hosts daily drawing contests based on various keywords.

Repper is a web app for creating patterns based on images. The app’s free trial version creates patterns from uploaded photos or graphics (respectively from prearranged clippings of those) and includes a live preview. Various parameters, such as the shape of the clipping, tiling, rotation, size, color, contrast, or gradients can be adjusted. With Repper, artists and designers can, for instance, create a variety of matching patterns based on one single design.

Sketchbook is a free mobile app for sketching, painting and drawing. It provides a wide range of pen and brush features, such as airbrush or calligraphy, and thus enables sophisticated digital drawing. Furthermore, the app can be used to edit various layouts, as there are different typesetting and frame setting options. The work process is characterized by layers, which can be added flexibly. Sketchbook supports the opening and editing of various photo and image formats, as well as importing .PSD files. Sketchbook Pro is available for purchase as a desktop app.

Synfig Studio is a free and open-source desktop app for 2D animation. The elaborate software provides not only an extended toolbox but also layers, filters and even tools for animating bones and faces. The finished animation can be exported in different formats: .GIF, .AVI and .PNG.

The Bézier Game is a didactic online game that teaches learners how to draw vector lines. It displays simple line drawings that users have to trace only using the path tool – a typical tool in many drawing programs.

ZBrushCoreMini, a free desktop app, can be used to create complex three-dimensional works of art. The digital editing is reminiscent of analog molding with clay. The app’s special feature is the polygon mesh: by dragging, pressing or squeezing, the object’s shape can be altered and refined. For this purpose, seven predefined brush tools are provided. The resulting sculptures can also be rendered for 3D printing. The premium version of ZBrushCore featuring more brush tools and color options is available as a fee-based, monthly subscription.

Game Design

Textadventures is an online platform for playing, creating and sharing interactive fiction. Two free and open-source web apps for the independent programming of text-based games are provided: Quest and Squiffy. Both are available as desktop apps, though Quest is only available for Windows.
For educational contexts, Textadventures especially offers the free browser-based app Active Lit (http://activelit.com), which gives educators the opportunity to curate their own spaces which can only be accessed by authorized persons. There, selected games from the textadventures library can be featured, and the Quest app can be learned.

Twine is a free and open-source desktop and web app for creating nonlinear, interactive stories such as text adventures. Individual text passages or words can be connected via links. Different narrative strands can thus be interwoven in a complex way, run parallel, or even lead to alternative endings. For simple stories, no programming skills are necessary – more complex stories, however, can be extended with “variables”, images, sounds, and videos. For the latter, knowledge of HTML and CSS is required. Twine projects are saved and exported as HTML files and can be opened and played in any browser.

Wick Editor is a free and open-source web app with a programming environment, designed for animations, games and interactive projects. The figures and objects drawn directly in the browser can be animated using keyframes, supported by practical features such as onion skinning. An integrated library provides video and audio files that can be embedded. The finished projects can be exported as GIFs or videos with H.264 codec. Wick Editor Beta is also available as a desktop app.

Layout & Typography

Fee-based desktop app Affinity Publisher is part of Affinity Suite and allows for you to design print templates for print and online publishing. In addition to creating standard layout based media, such as flyers, books, or posters, Affinity Publisher is also used to design web interfaces. Photos, images, and text can be assembled into individual layouts. It is also possible to embed tables or documents such as PDFs. The integration of other Affinity software, such as Affinity Photo and Affinity Design, lets users switch between them effortlessly.

BitFontMaker2 is a free web app for creating simple pixel fonts. The minimalist editor features a reduced toolbar, guides, and the option to display a sample font as a tracing template in the background. In a small preview window, the font can be tested before exporting it as a TTF (TrueType Font).

BookWright is a free desktop app for designing your own books, magazines, or wall art. It is provided by the blurb platform, which supports the design, marketing, and sale of self-published books. BookWright offers several layout templates and basic design options for covers and pages (images, text boxes and geometric shapes). These features can be used to design comics, photo books, cookbooks, and lots more. In addition, BookWright can generate free ISBNs and offers various – fee-based – options for publishing. Within a school context, the app may serve as a hands-on introduction to design programs.

Canva is a free web app and platform for the straightforward design of various digital products and printed matter. It offers a wide range of layout templates, fonts, graphics, photos, animations, videos, and audio files. These can be dragged and dropped into your own design, combined with each other and customized, and the finished designs can be downloaded. The fee-based version, Canva Pro, comes with more tools.

Dotgrid is a free and open-source desktop app for creating vector graphics such as logos, pictograms, and types. The software provides a small selection of tools and supports working with layers. In addition, features such as mirroring and polysymmetrical drawing can be used.

FontStruct is a free web app for creating simple fonts. From the tool palette, various geometric shapes can be selected. Using these basic elements as building blocks, individual glyphs are assembled. Additional features, such as grids and guides or mirroring and rotating the basic elements, support the workflow. Finished fonts are exported as TTF (TrueType Font) and can be installed and used immediately on any computer. FontStruct also provides the option of publishing your creations under a CC license.

Desktop app Inkscape, a free and open-source vector graphics editor, is ideal for illustrations, logos, and diagrams. It offers a rich set of tools for drawing, shaping, and texting. Created objects can be scaled, rotated or skewed and filled with color or patterns. All common image and file formats are supported for export. Based on free and open-source software, the Inkscape project is contributed to by a large international community. Regular program updates are supported by services, such as video or text tutorials.

Kern Type is a free online game for typeface creators and typography fans. The game aims at finding the perfect horizontal distance between several letters. In varying levels of difficulty, historically well-known fonts and their designers are introduced. At the end of the game, a score is shown.

Scribus is a free and open-source desktop publishing application (DTP). The layout program is suitable for the professional production of printed matter, such as posters, flyers, portfolios, and magazines. Texts and images are placed in frames and can be freely moved and edited within the document. A wide range of tools enables comprehensive text and image editing. Sizes, shapes, fonts, and paragraph forms can be altered. Scribus also features a vector drawing tool, baseline grids, and a professional print output that includes spot colors.

Sketchbook is a free mobile app for sketching, painting and drawing. It provides a wide range of pen and brush features, such as airbrush or calligraphy, and thus enables sophisticated digital drawing. Furthermore, the app can be used to edit various layouts, as there are different typesetting and frame setting options. The work process is characterized by layers, which can be added flexibly. Sketchbook supports the opening and editing of various photo and image formats, as well as importing .PSD files. Sketchbook Pro is available for purchase as a desktop app.

Online Archive

CodePen is a free web app developed mainly for front-end developers. With an integrated development environment, the code editor enables you to create, test and find front-end code for any project. CodePen is great for detecting bugs as well as for collaboration and mutual inspiration. On the platform, users can create “pens”, code snippets of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These “pens” can be displayed in the user’s profile, receive feedback from other users, and be further edited at any time.

Coolors is a free web app for generating color palettes. It can be used as an inspiration for color selection, be it for graphic or web design or digital painting. On the one hand, the app features a large library of color palettes, on the other, it allows for users to create their own color palettes starting from a base color. In addition, Coolors can convert photos into color palettes and provides a “Color picker” (a color output tool for photos and graphics), a generator for color gradients, gradient palettes and a “Color Contrast Checker” (for determining ideal color contrasts). The app can adjust colors to different visual impairments. Coolors is also available as an Adobe and Chrome extension, as well as a mobile app for iOS.

Dérive is a free mobile app that turns the concept of unplanned and casual exploration of urban spaces into a card game. On individual cards, player are given small tasks, the findings of which determine their further route through the city. There are different ready-to-play decks: basic card decks, location-specific card decks, or ones that focus on environmentalism. In addition, users can create their own decks dedicated to certain topics or locations and play in teams.

Google Arts & Culture is a free online archive that provides virtual access to high-resolution digital reproductions of artworks and architecture worldwide. The web app offers three-dimensional tours of museums and in-depth source information about the reproduced exhibits. The mobile app’s popular “Art Selfie” feature enables users to find artworks in the image database that resemble them.

HOTGLUE is a free and open-source web app for creating simple websites. No programming experience is required. Images, texts, and videos can be playfully inserted and edited directly in the browser. It works intuitively and similarly to creating analog paper collages. Due to its easy usability, results are quickly visible. Advanced users can download HOTGLUE from https://hotglue.org and install it on their own server.

Imgflip is a free web app for creating and sharing images, especially memes and GIFs. The software enables users to upload images and provides templates of popular memes and GIFs, which can then be personalized with text or illustrations. In addition, there are generators for diagrams and “demotivational posters” and a cropping feature. Users can download their images and animations and/or share them directly on Imgflip – where they can be commented on and rated by other users.

imgflip.com / Used in Idea Change the Story! /

Kern Type is a free online game for typeface creators and typography fans. The game aims at finding the perfect horizontal distance between several letters. In varying levels of difficulty, historically well-known fonts and their designers are introduced. At the end of the game, a score is shown.

Prometheus is an online archive for art-historical image content that is free to use with an EDU license. It interconnects more than 100 image archives of institutes, museums, or research institutions. Prometheus provides high-resolution images and their sources, and is mainly used for research and teaching in the context of art history.

Repper is a web app for creating patterns based on images. The app’s free trial version creates patterns from uploaded photos or graphics (respectively from prearranged clippings of those) and includes a live preview. Various parameters, such as the shape of the clipping, tiling, rotation, size, color, contrast, or gradients can be adjusted. With Repper, artists and designers can, for instance, create a variety of matching patterns based on one single design.

The Bézier Game is a didactic online game that teaches learners how to draw vector lines. It displays simple line drawings that users have to trace only using the path tool – a typical tool in many drawing programs.

W3Schools is an online e-learning platform. Here, different programming languages not only for web design and web development but also for hardware can be learned step by step, supported by tutorials. Using the editor, tasks can be carried out and results tested for their functionality.

Photo & Image Editing

Affinity Photo, available as a fee-based desktop or iPad app, is part of the Affinity suite and serves as a professional photo and image editor. It not only offers a very comprehensive range of tools for drawing, selecting, retouching or masking but also for working with layers, vectors, or text. Additionally, it is stacked with useful features, such as batch processing, lens correction and plenty of filters. Raw image files are supported, too.

Canva is a free web app and platform for the straightforward design of various digital products and printed matter. It offers a wide range of layout templates, fonts, graphics, photos, animations, videos, and audio files. These can be dragged and dropped into your own design, combined with each other and customized, and the finished designs can be downloaded. The fee-based version, Canva Pro, comes with more tools.

Dither Me This is a free web app for designing image content. It comes with three different features: the first allows you to create and modify graphic files with gradients, the second is used to create and modify graphic files with patterns and with the third, uploaded images can be dithered and thus reduced in file size. Dither Me This is operated utilizing preset, yet easily customizable option settings. All created or converted files can be downloaded or shared.

GIMP is a free and open-source desktop app for professional image editing. Its toolbox is very comprehensive and enables users to select, transform or crop images. For editing and retouching, there are photo filters, color correctors, as well as layers and masking modes. Its large selection of brush tips makes GIMP suitable for digital painting or illustration. Additionally, GIMP offers the possibility to create short GIF animations. GIMP can export files as .JPG, .GIF, .TIFF, .PDF and more, and can be extended with over 100 plug-ins.

GIPHY is an extensive online database of GIFs and digital stickers that doubles as a search engine. With no registration, theme-based GIFs can be shared with other people via social media and various messenger services. In the GIPHY mobile app, registered users can create and save GIFs. They can draw from private image or other web content, compress and loop it and download their creations.

Imgflip is a free web app for creating and sharing images, especially memes and GIFs. The software enables users to upload images and provides templates of popular memes and GIFs, which can then be personalized with text or illustrations. In addition, there are generators for diagrams and “demotivational posters” and a cropping feature. Users can download their images and animations and/or share them directly on Imgflip – where they can be commented on and rated by other users.

imgflip.com / Used in Idea Change the Story! /

Photopea is a free web app for editing raster and vector graphics. It supports a wide range of image file formats to be opened, edited and converted directly in the browser. The app features numerous tools for professional photo and image editing – you can crop or mask images and work with layers. In addition, there is a wide range of brush tips for creating illustrations.

Scribus is a free and open-source desktop publishing application (DTP). The layout program is suitable for the professional production of printed matter, such as posters, flyers, portfolios, and magazines. Texts and images are placed in frames and can be freely moved and edited within the document. A wide range of tools enables comprehensive text and image editing. Sizes, shapes, fonts, and paragraph forms can be altered. Scribus also features a vector drawing tool, baseline grids, and a professional print output that includes spot colors.

This person doesn’t exist is a website that shows random portraits of persons that were generated by artificial intelligence and do not exist in real life. With each refresh, a new person is displayed; the images can be downloaded as JPGs. In a pop-up, the website provides links to explanatory videos, code templates for experiments, as well as to other versions of it that generate, for example, artworks or horses that do not exist in real life.

Sound

Ableton Live is a highly professional DAW desktop app that combines the countless possibilities of sound producing with the functionality of an audio sequencer. It is not only used within a professional studio context or for live performances but also by non-professionals. Vocals or instruments can be recorded using the computer’s integrated microphone or an interconnected interface. The Ableton Live user interface is composed of two workspaces: music production – editing, mixing and mastering a song based on your recordings – takes place in arrangement view. Numerous integrated libraries provide instruments, beat samples or effects. In session view, all recordings can be organized into loop-based tracks. This view is particularly suitable for DJ sets or arranging a song to be performed live.

Audacity is a free and open-source desktop app for audio editing and recording. With its easy-to-use interface, Audacity provides an intuitive introduction to DAW software. In addition to features such as combining and editing already created samples, it is also possible to record live audio. Basic filters such as noise reduction are very useful for quick editing. Simultaneous listening and editing in real time is not possible, though. That said, Audacity is a very useful introduction to the realm of DAW editing and mixing, and can be upgraded with VST plug-ins if required.

DaVinci Resolve is a powerful video editing and color grading desktop app that is available free of charge in versions 16.2.8 and 17 – additional features require payment. The nonlinear software meets high demands, ranging from basic video editing tools to complex color correction or audio post-production. The division into modules, each providing a dedicated workspace and tools for a specific task, e.g., editing visual effects and filters, helps to establish a clear work structure. Furthermore, it enables multi-user collaboration. DaVinci Resolve comes with a library full of transitions, effects, and animations. The app supports 8K and thus ranges in high-end video production.

Omni is a free digital synthesizer. With the web app, you can produce synthetic harp sounds and modify them with effects, such as delay or reverb. Forty different scales from different cultures are available. Sounds can be recorded, looped and downloaded as .WAV files.

SonicPi is a free and open-source desktop app that enables you to create music by coding or by using prewritten code from a library. You can also add your own samples to the library. The software focuses on iterative learning and immediate feedback – the written code can be played and listened to at any time. SonicPi helps to understand basic programming concepts, such as sequencing, iteration, selection, functions, data structures or algorithms and provides an insight into creating and performing electronic music.

The free version of the desktop app Soundplant turns a computer keyboard into a gadget for playing sounds or samples. With Soundplant, you can easily assign sound files onto keyboard keys. Whereas these key configurations can be changed as desired, the samples themselves cannot. Soundplant thus replaces external hardware such as MIDI controllers or MIDI keyboards and can be particularly handy for live performances, as it is possible to trigger an array of different sounds, mixes or entire playlists. Simple effects, such as reverb or resonance, are featured, too.

Video

DaVinci Resolve is a powerful video editing and color grading desktop app that is available free of charge in versions 16.2.8 and 17 – additional features require payment. The nonlinear software meets high demands, ranging from basic video editing tools to complex color correction or audio post-production. The division into modules, each providing a dedicated workspace and tools for a specific task, e.g., editing visual effects and filters, helps to establish a clear work structure. Furthermore, it enables multi-user collaboration. DaVinci Resolve comes with a library full of transitions, effects, and animations. The app supports 8K and thus ranges in high-end video production.

Kdenlive is a free and open-source app for nonlinear video editing. Several video and audio tracks can be edited simultaneously; additionally, slideshows can be created out of images. Dozens of effects and transitions are available, as well as a feature for title creation. The interface and keyboard shortcuts in Kdenlive can be arranged and configured to fit the user’s preferences. The basic version of the app can be extended by a number of features with various plug-ins.

Shotcut is a free and open-source desktop app for nonlinear video editing. In its timeline, several video and audio files can be edited simultaneously in different tracks. Shotcut offers a wide range of effects and transitions and supports countless audio, video, and image formats or codecs and is available in more than 10 languages.

Virtual Reality

Hubs, an open-source project by Mozilla, allows for virtual meeting spaces to be created directly in the browser. The free web app can be used for collaboration and communication within groups. For this purpose, already existing spaces can be used as well as ones that are created from scratch. PDFs, images, videos, audio files, 3D models, drawings, interactive texts or webcam videos can be shared. For creating own sceneries and spaces, Hubs provides the web app Spoke.

Web Design

Fee-based desktop app Affinity Publisher is part of Affinity Suite and allows for you to design print templates for print and online publishing. In addition to creating standard layout based media, such as flyers, books, or posters, Affinity Publisher is also used to design web interfaces. Photos, images, and text can be assembled into individual layouts. It is also possible to embed tables or documents such as PDFs. The integration of other Affinity software, such as Affinity Photo and Affinity Design, lets users switch between them effortlessly.

Cargo is a web app for creating websites that is free to use with an EDU license. With Cargo, websites can be built from scratch, based on a “Blank Template”. Additionally, there is a wide range of customizable templates. The app specifically aims to meet the demands of people in the fields of art and design.

Dither Me This is a free web app for designing image content. It comes with three different features: the first allows you to create and modify graphic files with gradients, the second is used to create and modify graphic files with patterns and with the third, uploaded images can be dithered and thus reduced in file size. Dither Me This is operated utilizing preset, yet easily customizable option settings. All created or converted files can be downloaded or shared.

Figma is a sophisticated web and desktop app, free to use with an EDU license, consisting of a vector graphics editor, a whiteboard app and a digital product prototyping app. Figma is mainly used to create interactive interface designs for websites and apps. Its core concept is to enable real-time online collaboration so that everyone’s actions and changes are immediately visible to others. Figma may be used to create graphs, maps, and virtual spaces that can be organized into layers, groups, or pages. Figma is also useful for creating interactive presentations, as users can define clickable areas of their work.

HOTGLUE is a free and open-source web app for creating simple websites. No programming experience is required. Images, texts, and videos can be playfully inserted and edited directly in the browser. It works intuitively and similarly to creating analog paper collages. Due to its easy usability, results are quickly visible. Advanced users can download HOTGLUE from https://hotglue.org and install it on their own server.

Desktop app Inkscape, a free and open-source vector graphics editor, is ideal for illustrations, logos, and diagrams. It offers a rich set of tools for drawing, shaping, and texting. Created objects can be scaled, rotated or skewed and filled with color or patterns. All common image and file formats are supported for export. Based on free and open-source software, the Inkscape project is contributed to by a large international community. Regular program updates are supported by services, such as video or text tutorials.

WordPress is an open-source content management system for creating your own websites and blogs. To use the free software, you need a hosting provider or your own server that provides the necessary database. The website’s design and its specific features can be adapted and constantly upgraded due to the ongoing development of new themes and plug-ins. Editing of content and appearance is done directly in the browser and can be done without any programming skills. The popular hosting service of WordPress.com offers a very limited free version with ads, among other things.

Whiteboards & Pads

AnswerGarden is a free web app for creating collaborative mindmaps, brainstorming sessions, taking votes and giving and collecting feedback. Users can respond to a question or topic simultaneously and from any location. AnswerGarden is also available as a mobile app for the iPad.

Conceptboard is a free web app for creating whiteboards. Various elements, templates and graphics can be dragged and dropped into the respective board where they can be modified, filled with content and arranged as desired. Additionally, new elements can be created, and content can be uploaded. It is possible to share the boards, collaboratively work on them, communicate with one another, and to assign tasks. Boards can be saved and downloaded.

Etherpad is a free and open-source web app for collaborative, real-time text creation and editing. It is very straightforward and supports numerous practical tools, such as varying colors for authors, several text export options, a document history, and a chat plug-in. In order to use Etherpad, just pick one of the publicly available instances (e.g. https://etherpad.wikimedia.org) or install it on your server.

Excalidraw is a free and open-source web app for collaborative work on whiteboards. Texts, sketches and geometric shapes can be created in real-time, and it is possible to add your images to the board. Excalidraw is also suitable for meetings or joint brainstorming, whereas the outcome can be saved and shared via link. The fee-based version Excalidraw+ offers additional features.

FigJam, a free web app by Figma, is a whiteboard tool that enables exchange and collaborative work via a shared workspace. Contributions can be composed, edited and commented with just little effort yet still visually appealing. Depending on your requirements (e.g. feedback round), ready-to-use templates can help you get started quickly. All whiteboards and imported files are stored in a cloud within FigJam. Using the app requires registration; only a limited number of boards can be created in the free version.

Miro is a free web and mobile app for creating and editing digital whiteboards collaboratively. Images and other files are easily embedded into your workspace. Existing widgets, such as arrows, sticky notes, and more, are useful for clear visualization. A built-in video chat feature allows for an exchange of ideas between all collaborators or in individual groups. The workspace can be exported as a PDF or JPG, which helps to document the work process. Three sequential fee-based versions of the app offer more advanced functionality through plug-ins and unlimited whiteboard creation.

Ohyay is a free web application and platform for designing virtual spaces that can be used for events as well as online teaching and meetings. Due to its comprehensive design and interaction possibilities, Ohyay enables its users to create extraordinary video chat settings. Ohyay has a very steep learning curve; the creation of workspaces is particularly demanding.

Padlet is a free, collaborative app for sharing and organizing digital content online that provides intuitive ways to visually organize images, texts, videos, links, etc. These elements can be arranged as desired on a quasi whiteboard, along a timeline or as a feed, storyboard, or map. Connections may be marked by arrows (with or without labels), which makes the app suitable for creating multimedia mind or concept maps. Padlet provides several options to adapt the app to the users’ requirements (layout and format, anonymous mode, voting and commenting feature on/off etc.). Results can be shared via link or exported in various formats. The app’s free version does not offer the software’s full scope.

Sketchboard is a free web app that can be used to create whiteboards individually or collaboratively. For this purpose, various elements and templates are provided that can be added via drag and drop and then modified. You may also create new shapes yourself. The individual elements can be connected, arranged as desired and filled with content. The whiteboards’ privacy settings can be established as private, visible for your team only, or public. In Sketchbook’s free version, there are some limitations.

Your World of Text is a free and open-source web app for experimental and collaborative text creation. It is based on an infinite white webpage that is simultaneously editable by any visitor. You can create texts or typographic drawings anywhere on the page. To create a new blank page, simply update the existing URL after the slash with a new name or any combination of characters. Other existing text worlds can thus be easily found, viewed, and edited.