I know there are some questions similar to this, like this from 2012 and this from 2011, but I think maybe something has changed in this 4 years, since software develop so quick now.

Is it possible to use only open-source tools to produce professional level graphic artwork (digital and printed) Has anyone actually done it? If not, where are the current gaps for each one of these?

  • 3
    One of the professional topics Open Source cannot ever implement is Pantone colors, as these are trademarked and protected by copyright.
    – Jongware
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 11:44
  • @FahedFahed Software do not develop quickly now. IT sa n illusion technology does not go forward super fast. Marketting goes forward faster and faster. The software for thi stuff are the sam etoday as 4 years ago.
    – joojaa
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 11:57
  • @RadLexus but there's nothing stopping you from buying a color book and inserting spot colors manually in programs like Scribus Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:13
  • @Scribblemacher yes and waste more money on this than it costs to just get the adobe suite
    – joojaa
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:15
  • 1
    @joojaa good point. I personally don't own a Pantone book, but I hear you can get one significantly cheaper used. If you're doing professional-level printing, isn't a Pantone book something you're going to probably own anyway, even if you are using Adobe software? (that's a serious question) Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


It is possible, as much as back in 2010. The problem is not so much what you can and what you can not do with a tool. I can do much of everything I do in illustrator using a text editor. I can do much of all pixel pushing in any software other than Photoshop again even an editor.

However, I need to be compatible with other designers and users. Its not about having the capability to do something it is about the capability to do something with others. And here Adobe has the design crowd hung up.

Lets look more in detail


So if you look for a application that can do pixel pushing, as in drawing. No contest Photoshop loses out on competition. But that is until you realize that Photoshop is not a drawing application, its a photo manipulator. But even here Photoshop is not hard to topple for many tools that work more like Lightroom is worth more to many.

So unless your looking to publish stuff in print you will find that Photoshop is by far the easiest one of the lot to replace. It is the integration between printing vectors and pixels where Photoshop comes out as king. Not because its a spectacular tool, no but because of its breadth as a tool and its printing/color management capabilities.

Unfortunately you still need to be able to open many a Photoshop document as this is what the data was authored in.

Vector drawing

Well lets just say that Inkscape has a crappy user interface. For Illustrator there is really no contest. It is also the application i would like to replace the most since adobe can not seem to get anything right in their illustrator development end.

I man can inkscape do what illustrator does? To a certain extent, illustrator has better PDF support and EPS support, Panatone support. In many ways i can replace illustrator with notepad more easily than with inkscape. Again its a question of compatibility. Illustrator is a great tool when you want to debug stuff that is somehow broken. In ways that inkscape can not match. On the other hand inkscape has better support for SVG. But not much.

So what do do I replace my illustrator with? I replace it with an older version of Illustrator. I have lots of choice when it comes to replace photoshop but not a single good contender that would work on my setup.

Page layout

Well InDesign is hard to beat as is TeX. But personally i use InDesign far too little to be an authority on the subject. Indesign has pretty nifty functions that only high volume industry can appreciate like the inbuilt XML publishing system. TeX on the other hand is hard to beat if you want to do math typesetting. But these hardly compete in the same arena. Don't know much about Scribus other than using it was a exercise in pain.


All in all the adobe suite is pretty cheap. And while i am looking for an alternative there is really nothing that has even fraction of the features I use. But i am a special case hopefully you consider yoruself a special case too.

  • 1
    As a frequent user of both Scribus and InDesign, I'll say that it is hard to give a ringing endorsement of Scribus. There are so many things that are easy (sometimes even fun) to do in InDesign that are absolutely painful to make work in Scribus. For example, Scribus has almost no support for tables, lacks "break before" style options, no OpenType support--the list of missing/incomplete features is long. I use it for small brochures and posters, but anything long I use InDesign instead (and the Linux user in me dies a little inside) Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 13:09
  • @Scribblemacher ok, thanks this answer looks complete enough to me... and to be honest I was looking for a decent alternative to this programs, and wasn't able to find it. (The FOSS user in me is taking so much pain for it too)
    – Fahed
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:37

Yes, it is.

Better tools do not make someone a better designer. A great designer can produce better work with Inkscape than a mediocre designer can with Illustrator.

I'm not going to claim that open source tools are better than the common commercial products, but rather they have a feature set that is strong enough to make professional-level artwork. In many causes, an Adobe product will make it easier to make your design into reality, but good design is good design, and it is product-agnostic.

Select galleries:

  • Thanks for your answer. I think you are right, the hammer doesn't make a carpenter, but it surely makes his work more efficient. I find hard to work with some of this software many times (being only GIMP kind of an exception), and I keep trying to live with it more because of FOSS related ideas than because they meet my needs. I'm trying to find a good reason to keep going with it.
    – Fahed
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:33
  • A very good reason is the more people that use an open source program the better it becomes (from discussion about it, getting its name out there, reporting bugs, etc). Asking questions here also provides a resources when someone Googles "how do I do X in Scribus?" Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:37

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