Creative tools

Free online tools that can assist creative works – writing, illustration, presentation and other media.

 
Writing Tools

  • Visuwords™ is a visual dictionary that can help you to find word synonyms and grasp associations between words and concepts. Key in the word you wish to replace, and a word diagram ‘reminiscent of a neural net’ will branch out from it and show you your word’s meaning and associations with other words.

 

Visuwords – online visual synonym dictionary

 

  • Yarny is a beautifully neat and simple online text editor with handy functional features.
  • Google Drive is a free online office package that lets you create, share, store and collaborate with many types of standard documents (Word, Excel, Power Point, Pdf, drawings, polls et.c).

 
 
Illustration Tools

  • Pixton enables you to build your own cartoons using and manipulating pre-made elements. It operates via a credit system so that you can make as many cartoons as you like for free, but in order to download your cartoons in high res. png, you need to buy them with “credits” (Pixton’s currency). You earn some credit points for free just by using the site, but if you get hooked and would like to create & download many cartoons, then those credits won’t be sufficient, and you’ll need to purchase more with real life currency.

 

Pixton_Comic_Pantihorse_in_Pisa_by_Mados
Made with Pixton’s Advanced Comic Maker free trial

 
(Thanks to Musings of an Aspie for the tip – See how she has used it to design an illustration for her excellent post Lost in Space).

 

  • Tondoo is another make-your-own-cartoon platform, which appears very advanced compared to Pixton. Characters can be built from scratch using elements, and virtually any feature can be heavily customised. See here how for example a face is designed by selecting key features from a range of options with the Tondoo TRAITR (may require login – it is free to set up an account). Unfortunately, Tondoo is too advanced for my archaic browser and operative system, so I can’t operate the cartoon tools in any meaningful speed and therefore, can not tell how well it works and if it is really as free as claimed. I would love to hear others’ experiences with Tondoo.
  • OpenClipArt.org offers a great variety of cliparts under a Public Domain Dedication Licence (= free to use, adapt & develop). Open Clipart is well organised and easy to navigate, and there are many gems to find in its archives. Many of the illustrations on this blog are from Open Clipart. I warmly recommend it.
  • MorgueFile is a photo archive of free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images retired from commercial stock libraries, and now free to use. The purpose of the site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits. Some of the illustrations on this blog are derived from Morguefile photos. Anyone can contribute their own photography to Morguefile to help expand the archives for the benefit of all users.
  • CC Search – Search Creative Commons. Search engine that allows to search in free-to-use items across a range of platforms such as Flickr, Google Images, YouTube, SoundCloud and so on.

 
Presentation Tools

  • Showeet: free creative Power Point and Impress templates, charts, diagrams and maps for business presentations.

 
Audio Creation and Sharing Tools

  • SoundCloud is a social cloud for sharing sound recordings across various social media platforms.
  • Garageband is a user friendly music composition software application that sits inside any Mac computer as a default. It has a limited range of instruments & loops in the default version; but many more can be downloaded for free.

    Garageband allows you to create your own music even if you don’t have an instrument. You can do that by combining pre-fabricated loops visually in for example 8 of the tracks. Loops are tones, rhythms & bits of melodies that serve as building blocks which can be combined and altered in a virtually indefinite number of ways. Below recording is a 100% artificial music loop collage composed in Garageband’s visual editor:

     

     
    However, if you do have an electrical instrument then you can connect it to Garageband via a midi-USB interface and play any instrument in the application – guitars, pianos, drums, basses, flutes, percussion and even dinosaur moans – on your own instrument. There are hundreds of instruments and loops. You record one track at the time while you replay tracks you have already recorded if you like, so you can jam with yourself camouflaged as different instruments.

    Below recording is composed with a combination of Garageband loops and digital piano – the 4 -5 tracks of nylon string guitars are played on piano (Turn up the volume to max in your headphones, it is recorded fairly low):

     

    ‘History of the evolution of life on Earth’. The crash symbolises the dinosaurs being wiped out.

     
    You can cut, paste and copy music sections; edit, add and move individual nodes. Each instrument can be customised beyond recognition and you can always keep melodies and replace the instruments. Key, speed and other factors can be changed at any time. The music can be exported in various quality formats or burned onto CD.

     

    Number with 12 tracks of which four are edited guitar improvisations played on digital piano and the rest are made of bass and drum loops freely available in Garageband.

     
    You may loose your job, starve and forget to sleep while you enjoy jamming with yourself & the Garageband loops on your digital piano disguised as five nylon string guitars and a bass. Garageband is highly addictive and should really be classified as an electronic drug.

    Here is Wikipedia’s description of Garageband.

2 thoughts on “Creative tools

  1. Shelley

    Oh, my goodness. These are wonderful! I’ve used Google Docs for some time. I’m so used to having a hard copy Thesaurus at my side, the idea of Visuwords never even crossed my mind. I was going to add a plug-in for photos to my blog this week; I’ll check Morgue file out. I’ve got a Mac, but haven’t delved into Garage Band. Now, you’ve got my curiosity up. Thank you for these shares!

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    Reply
  2. Mados Post author

    Thanks Shelley. Yes, Visuwords is genius… I use it all the time when I write.

    Morguefile is just an archive of photos that can be used & modified freely without compromising anyone’s copyright – often comes in handy to create quick blog-illustrations!

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    Reply

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