Want to be creative on your computer? No budget for software? Provided you follow some simple rules, here are some very powerful programs that only cost you the time it takes to download.
FREE: Use this software as you please
Open Source: Use this software as you please, add to it (help program it with the community of users), distribute it… or just simply enjoy it.
Personal Learning Editions (PLE): This software is usually a limited version of a commercial product from a company. There may be a size, or time limitation for projects you create, or even a watermark added onto your final files. PLEs are aimed at students and teachers, and people who just want to try out a program without a 30 day demo limitation. You cannot use PLE software for profit.
With that being said, enjoy the list.
Film-Quality 2D Vector Animation
Synfig is a powerful, industrial-strength vector-based 2D animation software package, designed from the ground-up for producing feature-film quality animation with fewer people and resources.
Synfig: Open Source/ FREE
Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.
Blender: Open Source/ FREE
Google SketchUp is a deceptively simple, amazingly powerful tool for creating, viewing, and modifying 3D ideas quickly and easily. Google SketchUp was developed to combine the elegance and spontaneity of pencil sketching with the speed and flexibility of today's digital media.
Google SketchUp 6 : FREE
Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.
Audacity: Open Source/ FREE
GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
GIMP: Open Source/ FREE
ArtRage is the easy to use, stylish painting package that lets you get painting from the moment you open it up. You can paint with oils, sketch with pencils, sprinkle glitter, and more.
ArtRage Starter Edition: FREE
Personal Learning Editions
3D natural environment software
Vue 6 is the most efficient and advanced solution for creating, animating and rendering natural 3D environments.
Vue 6 PLE: FREE/PLE
paperless animation software
The Toon Boom Digital Pro Personal Learning Edition is a special version that provides free access to Toon Boom Digital Pro for non-commercial use. This allows 2D graphics and animation students, industry professionals, and those interested in breaking into the world of 2D Animation an opportunity to explore many aspects of the award-winning Toon Boom technology.
Toon Boom Digital Pro PLE: FREE/PLE
Professional 3D software
Maya Personal Learning Edition is a special version of Autodesk® Maya® software, which provides free access to Maya for non-commercial use. It gives 3D graphics and animation students, industry professionals, and those interested in breaking into the world of computer graphics an opportunity to explore most aspects of the award-winning Autodesk® Maya® Complete software in a non-commercial capacity.
Maya PLE: FREE/PLE