Open Source workflows we use in our work

Continuing the discussion from Morevna: CREATING ANIMATION WITH FREE SOFTWARE:

I’ve updated some of our resources.

It’d be cool if we could have guides for each resource. This doesn’t have to be our own guides, maybe just links to external resources about them?

It’d also be cool if you - @ryangorley - could talk about your recent project and what that looked like? Highlights, problems, pitfalls, successes, etc?

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I am using:

  • wireframes
  • Inkscape
  • Detailed design
  • Annotation of screenshots
  • Gimp
  • Simple image editing tasks
  • LibreOffice
  • Analyzing qualitative data (Writer)
  • Simple prototypes (Impress)
  • Simple data analysis (Calc)
  • VLC
  • Listening to recordings, making transcripts
  • RStudio
  • Data Processing, cleaning, analysis
  • Jamovi
  • Statistics

For a typical interaction design project I would start with If we are generally fine, I sometimes move to visual design if needed (Using predefined components, often there is not much UI design freedom anyway), I move to Inkscape to experiment with graphical details. If I am pretty sure of a way, I code it directly.
For realizing the design, I talk to the devs. They implement it. Usually there are some details that were not considered or came up in programming or or or… review it and do some minor changes to the CSS.

For user research it depends if it is qualitative or quantitative.

  • If it is qualitative I would scan my notes and/or listen to recordings via VLC. I added some global shortcuts in VLC so I can transcribe (in LibreO Writer) and still play/pause/jump. I then “code” the data in Writer (for the full process, see
  • For quantitative data I usually have a look at the data in LibreO calc before and make some diagrams to see how the data is like. Often the diagrams in calc are insufficient (No histogram, no boxplot), so I use RStudio and R’s plot() function. I also calculate some descriptives (mean, median, percentiles). If it is needed (in summative research) I do an analysis like t-Test, ANOVA etc. Same process (diagrams, descriptives, analysis) can be easily done in Jamovi, too, but only if the data is well formatted in the beginning. If it is not I use either LibreO calc or R to clean it.

We’ve long been using Blender for product rendering and architectural rendering, and we’ve dabbled in other free/open tools, but I’ve only recently been pushing to unwed the studio from Adobe altogether. Working strictly with FOSS has been much easier for digital output than for print. This project, which included 3 x 7 foot (roughly 1 x 2 meters) high-resolution printed banners plus smaller printed handouts, was the most ambitious print project to date (more details). It also highlighted some persistent issues we have with the tools currently available for print workflows.


  • Solus. I know everyone has their favorite operating system, but if you’re not in love with yours I highly recommend checking this project out. Whereas I used to rely upon Ubuntu plus a bunch of PPAs to stay current on my software, this from-scratch distro is fast, current, and elegant. It doesn’t currently support CUDA, so the rendering work was not done here. I’m hoping that will change in the near future.
  • Krita. The client had never employed us to do 3D work, so I used an old Wacom Cintiq we have in the office to sketch out some concepts in Krita. Drawing in Krita is like therapy for me and it definitely helps our design and client buy-in process.
  • Blender. I’m not the 3D artist in the studio, but one of my partners was able to take the model exported by our client and get to work. He did a bunch of work I cannot adequately explain, and during this step we had to make some substantial revisions. A sketch lets you cheat a little about details that really need to be resolved. I should note that the scale of the rendering (11100 x 25500 pixels!) was going to require too long to render for our deadline so pushed the final file out to which turned it around in an hour and half. :slight_smile:
  • darktable. With its ability to apply non-destructive color corrections and enhancements, I find I’m going here a lot. In this case I needed to add some depth to the flat colors that inevitably come out of any renderer.
  • GIMP. Because this was a still rendering, we could add a lot of the grit we wanted in post, which saved us some time. We also had to composite two separate renderings into one and make some decisions about color.
  • Inkscape. Finally we needed to add some vector elements and text. Inkscape did relatively well handling the large file, and ended up filling more roles than I had planned. Originally I had wanted to use Scribus for the text and print export, but the application does not support drop shadows behind text (!), which was necessary to contrast the text against the busy background. I was so close to cheating and using Adobe Illustrator at this point, but Inkscape could do what I needed (in a little bit convoluted way). So I ended up doing the rest in Inkscape and exporting the whole file as a PDF for the printers. Kudos to Inkscape for stepping up, but it is not perfectly suited for this work. I was disappointed that Scribus was not up for the task, but here’s hoping they’ll get there in the near future.

There were actually two banners created simultaneously, but the workflow was essentially the same. They turned out really impressive at full scale and had our client pretty excited. I was happy to have finished it entirely using FOSS and to have proved to myself it could be done. Take that, the Man.



For my illustrations I use:

Krita is really quite impressive as a piece of painting software. It lacks only a few of the features that I find necessary for a world-class painting application. I use it for anything painting or drawing related and is the core part of my workflow. I used to use GIMP. It is usable, but Krita is just a lot better for painting

**[GIMP](** I mostly use GIMP for Graphic Design stuff as I find Krita's text and selection tools clunky in comparison.

Just starting to integrate this. It’s a joy to use once you understand the workflow. Nick Saporito tutorials were really helpful for that. I am working on free and open source tabletop games, so most of my experience with it has been in designing icons for use in those.

**[Blender](** I love Blender. It is the only open source graphics offering more impressive to me than Krita. I am not great with it, but I can model and sculpt enough to paint over and hide how mediocre I am at the above. I am trying to improve and would like to start to integrate Blender more into the composition of scenes and environments.

As for non-software, I use **[](** a lot for random icons to use, as well as **[patreon](** to fund making open source art.

hmm, this reminds me that I really need to update my Software page…


It has taken over my workflow for basically everything. I think I’m allergic to bitmap now…

  • Title overlays for videos (it’s very flexible, and my video editor updates to new files instantly so there are no extra steps when changing a title)
  • SVG animations - I have recently begun learning to animate SVG using CSS & Javascript and it always starts with Inkscape, the XML editor is useful too. SVGOMG is often an intermediate step for optimization.
  • Preparing Synfig vector animations - the tools for drawing and layout are far more advanced in Inkscape, and there’s an option to save as a .sif Synfig file
  • Slides for presentations - I used to battle with LibreOffice Impress which I found incredibly stressful to design in, and I never had full confidence that my slides would look right once they had been converted to .ppt (as often required by conferences) and displayed on a Windows system, so I took to making slides in Inkscape and providing a PDF or a .ppt of static PNGs. I’d like to start making HTML slides with incorporated animations now, but I’m sure Inkscape will still be a big part in that process :slight_smile:

For anything to do with video:

FFMpeg, FFscreencast, FFprobe
Here are the various tricks I use, copy-pasted from who knows where over the last 5 years:
FFMpeg - Useful Commands

Cloud storage and working with clients

Also not mentioned in my Software page yet, Nextcloud!
I used to use WeTransfer to send video files to clients - it was a mess of links and email attachments and “oh no I didn’t download the file within the time limit, could you upload it again?”
Now I can have a branded website where I have specific folders for specific projects, no time limits, no spying for me nor a requirement for my clients to sign up for anything, public or private links, clients can upload too, replacing files but having persistent links plus all the benefit of having my own cloud for personal use.


I feel like such a sinner after going through my workflow and finding out I barely use any open source tools for my work except :flushed:

I would love to hear more about how you use these tools.

I would love to hear more about how you use these tools.

Yes – what would you like to know? How to use such statistical tools in research in general or how these specific tools fit in my workflows?

How these specific tools fit in your workflow :slight_smile:

Added to my description in my first post.

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Few other tools I use in my open source tool chain

  • qGis for mapping data and map in general
  • Freecad for 3d simple drafting and cad work - nice web export
  • processing For procedural images or short animation
  • kdenlive used to by my default go to video editor, although I’ve been using blender lately.
  • fontforge Great to create fonts in inkscape and package them in fontforge.
  • InvoicePlane Open source invoicing self hosted program.
  • TaskWarrior To manage my task and sync between computer and android phone.
  • SyncThing Too keep some of my file in sync (works with android where I sync my photo to my laptop/computer), which reminds me of
  • Open Camera A really nice open source camera for android.

There are few other open source tools I use on android, but they are more productivity related (taskwarrior, syncthing, k9, mupdf), but they all fit in my workflow.

And of course the console only tools: vim (for virtually everything), mutt (email), mocp (music), irssi (chat)…