The following are very helpful art programs that can be downloaded free of charge. 

iPad Applications:

iTunes U

iTunes U is a wonderful course management system for teachers which allows teachers to create assignments (which can be turned in and graded in the desktop teacher side of the program), upload links and videos to share with classes, and even allows students to take notes right in the app. 


Aurasma is a very advanced app that is available for free! The app allows students to create Auras (which I describe to students as a QR code that doesn't look like a QR code) that trigger a video to play, or even a digital character to do something when viewed on the ipad. Auras are shareable with other Aurasma users, so it is a very fun way to explore. Click here to view a video showing some examples of Aurasma. Click here to check out this video that shows an art teacher using Aurasma.


Animoto is FREE for education and allows teachers to create free student accounts! The program is an extremely simple video creator that makes videos of professional quality. There are dozens of themes to choose from, as well as Royalty-Free music - making this an awesome app when it comes to teaching/working with copyright. Students can import video clips, pictures and text and can even set their video to their own music if they choose! I've used this app with students as young as gr. 2 and they are easily able to create the videos.

Sketchbook Express

Sketchbook X is a wonderful app when it comes to free art apps. The app allows students to make marks with all kinds of digital tools, from marker to spray paint, paintbrushes and more. The app also allows students to work with the idea of digital layers, and each project may contain up to three layers. Students can even import pictures to draw on or manipulate.

Stop Motion Studio

Stop Motion Studio is an app that allows for the creation of Stop Motion videos. In the app, students take individual photos, make small adjustments, and then take another photo. Once they've gotten quite a few images (my students are required to have at least 300) they can play their stop motion video, and download it for sharing. If doing stop motion in class I highly recommend this app, along with the following tools:  

                  - iPad Gooseneck stand $25 - adjustable in thousands of ways, holds the iPad steady so that the images are all consistent. I also use this stand to take time lapses of students in art. 

                  - Wire Rack $9 - I bought something similar to these for my students to use to create stop motion drawings/videos with paper cutouts. The iPad sits on top of the rack (with the camera  aligned in one of the spaces) and the paper is taped underneath it on the table (so that it doesn't move). The way that my desks work, the legs that the rack has were not quite tall enough, so I used Snap Cubes to make the legs taller.

                  - Headphones with Volume Control Button $12 - Did you know that the volume control button on your headphones will trigger the camera if you're in the camera app (or Stop Motion Studio)? We used the headphones to trigger the image so that the ipad would have no  movement from the actual touching of the button on screen. I did this project with wiggly wobbly 4th and 5th graders so this ended up being a crucial tool for our success.

Click here to see a few Stop Motion Projects made by my students using this app

Paid Apps (that are worth it!)


Showbie is an awesome app for teachers looking to collect assignments digitally. Students easily access your course by entering a code on their student version of Showbie, and can upload anything from documents to pictures, videos and even audio files. 

Do Ink Green Screen

At just $2.99, this app is AMAZING for the creative doors it opens in the classroom! Students cam use the green screen to literally put themselves anywhere! You can even get creative with green screens (which can be as simple as a $1 green tablecloth) to make things look like they're floating! 


Computer Programs: 

Modeling and Animation

Anime Studio

A 2D animation program is a frame by frame animation program. 


Blender is a 3D Modeling and Animation program that is offered fully functional for free. 


Cinepaint is a video-editing program that is fairly advanced and has been used in many professional productions.

Daz Studio

Daz Studio is a  3D Modeling and Animation program that can help you create your own 3D videos. 

Autodesk Maya P. L. E.

Autodesk is a 3D Modeling/Animation program which is offered free of charge for non-commercial use. This program also includes paint features in its package. 


Poser is shareware that was developed for artists to work with the human form and create animations using it. 

Bryce 5.5 

Bryce is a program that can be used to render 3D environments and scenery. 


Terragen is a program used for creating animation scenery and environments that are very realistic. 


MotionBuilder is a real-time character animation program created by Autodesk.

Design, Photography and Publishing 


This program allows the user to import an image, and will create a colorful art mosaic in excel using the image.

Scribus Desktop Publishing 

Scribus is a desktop publishing program that can be used to create layouts.

Insight Point 

InsightPoint is a vector based program similar to Adobe illustrator.


Similar to Corel Draw, this program is a vector based program with great editing capabilities.


TuxPaint is a basic and fun graphics program that is designed for students age 3-12. 


Smoothdraw is a easy to use digital drawing. 


Gestalter is a vector based drawing program that is similar to Adobe Illustrator - but it is free! "In order to use Gestalter you must install Gnome libraries.  In addition to the standard gnome libraries you must also install gtkmmgnomemm (gestalter is written in C++), gdk-pixbuflibsigc++ (which is part of gtkmm AFAIK) and the libxml2
library by Daniel Veillard" (


Gimp is an image creating/editing program that is very similar to the Adobe Photoshop program, but is free. VERY good for use in the classroom if you can't afford the actual programs! More info at


Check out these other websites for even more info:
This is an artist who runs international workshops on Free and Open Software for Artists:
This website offers online tutorials for GIMP and other popular FOSS:
Interested in designing your own website, but don’t want to pay for Adobe programs?  This site helps you do it using GIMP:
This is a tutorial for making a poster using GIMP:   
The previously quoted information is copyrighted by I do NOT take credit for this information

-The GIMP, (2001). About gimp. Retrieved Feb. 23, 2006, from GIMP Web site:
-Peck, A.  (2005). Linuxchix gimp course. Retrieved Feb. 23, 2006, from Web site:


ImageWell is a program that allows users to make basic edits, including rotation, scaling, watermarks, etc. to their images. 

Artrage Free

ArtRage is a program that allows users to become familiarized with computer drawing and painting. There are some limitations with the free edition. 


A program which allows users to create different effects which seem as though lines and shapes are moving. 

Beautiful Dorena 

Beautiful Dorena is a paint program for mac that includes some video features. More info at

Compositor SE

This program allows a user to create image based art and is a free download. 

Image Tricks 

Image tricks is a photo editing program that allows a user to apply numerous effects to their photos. Similar to photoshop.

NIH Image (Mac)

An Image editing software that also allows for image animation. 


This program is based on a Japanese program for digital painting and retouching 

Pixen (Mac)

Pixen is a pixel editing software for editing images. 

Seashore (Mac)

Similar to the "Gimp" program, and photoshop, Seashore allows users to edit images using brushes, text, etc. and work within layers.


More free art programs available

Screenshots of Free Programs

 This list is a compilation of lists by and