The Software

The aim of the summer school is to give you a focus to develop skills in any piece of design software that you would like. Key pieces of software used by designers are 2D graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and 3D CAD modelling packages such as Adobe Fusion, SketchUp.

Most software companies offer a trial version of software for a few weeks and also favourable rates for students. For example  a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, which offers a suite of Adobe software for different purposes, is around £16 per month for students. However, there is also free software available such as GIMP for photo editing and SketchUp for CAD modelling.

A list of possible software is below, however, if you have another package that you would like to spend time learning that is fine too.

Photo-editing software

The following pieces of photo-editing software may be useful to you throughout your design studies and familiarity with them may be useful for your career. As a student you can download or use them for free or at a discount. Links to the associated training resources are also provided.    

Use of this software is not required for the modules that you take (any software used on a module will be provided through the module website) but is offered here so you can enhance your skills if you want to.

GIMP Free Photo-editing software

GIMP image of logo

GIMP is a useful open source photo-editing tool which is completely free and worth considering as an alternative to Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. 

Find GIMP here

Tutorials for learning about GIMP

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud Logo

Adobe are the leading company for photo-editing and graphic design software. Their products are now offered online through a monthly subscription service. As a student you can subscribe to this service at a discounted price. The subscription gives you access to 20 different applications, including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign as well as banks of stock images for use in creative projects.

Find Creative Cloud here

Tutorials for learning about Creative Cloud


3D computer-aided design

The following pieces of 3D CAD modelling software may be useful to you throughout your design studies and familiarity with them may be useful for your career. As a student you can download or use them for free or at a discount. Links to the associated training resources are also provided.    

Use of this software is not required for the modules that you take (any software used on a module will be provided through the module website) but is offered here so you can enhance your skills if you want to.

Autodesk Fusion 360 


Autodesk offer a three year free licence for students. If you are studying part-time then it is best to download this software when you have completed T217. Create an account using your OU email address. Other Autodesk products are also available but this one is a useful all round package for Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing. 

Fundamental Concepts Training for Fusion 360 

Fusion 360 training for various contexts 

SketchUp 3D Computer Aided Design


SketchUp is a free, 3D CAD modelling package which will allow you to draw 3D models of your ideas.

You can use SketchUp Free online. Go to SketchUp.com, select the "Products" tab and then choose "SketchUp free from the drop down menu.

Alternatively you could download SketchUp Make (free version) which is an older version of the software.

Tutorials for learning about SketchUp


Online drawing tools

Here is a small selection of potentially helpful sites, which allow you to draw and create 2D images online:

Sketch.io - a good size canvas, you can create online and export your work to your computer on this site.

Kleki - a reasonably sized canvas but the functionality is more limited. On this site, you can create online and export your work to your computer.

QueekyPaint - the full version of this requires Flash but there is a non-Flash version too.

Sketchpad - a small canvas but good options for brushes etc.

Harmony - a fun drawing program with interesting effects, for play rather than work.

SketchBoard - this site is designed for team working.

There are many more such tools available, tell us about any others you have found useful (in the forum).

Here is a small selection of potentially helpful sites, which allow you to draw and create 2D images online:

Sketch.io - a good size canvas, you can create online and export your work to your computer on this site.

Kleki - a reasonably sized canvas but the functionality is more limited. On this site, you can create online and export your work to your computer.

QueekyPaint - the full version of this requires Flash but there is a non-Flash version too.

Sketchpad - a small canvas but good options for brushes etc.

Harmony - a fun drawing program with interesting effects, for play rather than work.

SketchBoard - this site is designed for team working.

There are many more such tools available, tell us about any others you have found useful (in the forum).

Go to the next page to see the challenges > Challenges

Last modified: Monday, 20 Jul 2020, 12:51