Create your panoramic images with Hugin

Hugin is a comprehensive imaging tool for producing panoramic chains that is as useful for the home or casual photographers as it is for professionals. It utilises the same coding as other paid software however it is a free programme to download.

Its function is to meld several photos together to produce one panoramic image, or stitches several of these together to produce overlapping pictures. The results of these processes are very effective and they allow an amateur to achieve the same results as a professional piecing the images together manually. In addition it can detect the camera and the model that you are using which helps to minimise any reduction in the quality of the photographs and prevent distortion.

The interface is initially confusing however once you get to grips with it the functionality is quite straightforward, despite the number of features it possesses. Its assistant provides features such as cropping and image reduction in order to produce the best panoramic image.

If producing chain panoramic images is your thing but you don’t want to spend money on the software needed then this is a perfect option that will produce as good if not better images than some fee-charging rivals. The fact that it is also suitable for photographers makes it a good all-rounder, especially if the crashing issues are resolved in future updates.

download Hugin

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Create iOS games without having to understand Flash or use coding

Stencyl is a new piece of software that is perfect for the budding game designer who has not yet learned coding but has the ideas and wants to start producing their own games.

Stencyl allows the amateur to create games without having to understand Flash or use coding. As a result of this target market it is relatively simple enough to follow the tutorial and get started. That said it is not necessarily easy to master without a basic knowledge or at least aptitude for programming. It is probably most likely to suit hobby enthusiasts or young potential coders and programmers.

Once you have got to grips with the software the potential for what types of games you can devise is only as limited as your imagination, I found that I was able to produce a solid few games that were enjoyable to play, even when repeated. The software has enough to it to execute a good idea. That said it might seem limited or frustrating to those who are familiar with coding and programming already.

As a free piece of software this is a great first step in to game design, and probably as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. For someone young with some technical knowledge and a budding game idea this could be the start of a career or serious hobby in game design.

Download Stencyl

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Convert your photos to the universally accepted DNG raw format with Adobe DNG Converter

The Adobe DNG Converter 7.2 is a free service that allows you convert files from over 350 different types of camera into the more usable DNG format.

DNG, or Digital Negative, is a photo format that was created specifically for the purpose of providing photography buffs with a universal single format that can be read on any machine. Having this simplified format allows pictures to be archived and documented all the more easily, while keeping them more secure.

The converter comes with an easy-to-navigate interface that allows for the simple transfer of photos from one format to another. It can also be used with a range of camera and photo files, meaning that all of your pictures, no matter what format they are in, can be protected and stored.

The Adobe DNG Converter 7.2 is an unbelievably useful tool for converting and protecting different types of photo. Yes, at the moment the device only supports 350(!) types of camera, but this is still quite a lot and future updates may include additional camera support. Considering the converter is free, it really is the best tool you can use for editing your photographs into a simpler, easier to use and more secure type of file.

download Adobe DNG Converter

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Draw chemical structures with ease using ChemSketch

ChemSketch have released a much needed free version of their original chemical drawing software, with some great features that are perfectly ample for a chemistry student or casual home user.

The software is easy to download and has a straightforward and user-friendly interface – it was simple enough to get to grips with the functionality although some of the features seemed to work in the opposite way to the paid version which felt a bit counter-intuitive. The main crux of the software is the same, with the ability to draw chemical structures including polymers, organics, Markush structures and organometallics.

Other useful features include the name generation capability (up to a generous 50 atomic structures and 3 rings), comprehensive report generation and viewing and cleaning features for both 2D and 3D structures. It also provides tautomer recognition and valuable access to search engines such as PubChem, eMolecules and ChemSpider which are all great sources for the chemistry student or enthusiast. There are some advanced features that the paid version has and that are missing here, but these gaps are mainly felt if you are familiar with the paid version of ChemSketch.

This popular software is great for home and educational use, good enough even for a working chemist. The fact that it’s free allows accessibility to this clever software, including for students who may not be able to fund the paid version. Some valuable features are missing here and some of the way it works is reversed but none of this will matter too much if you are only using this version.

Great features included in a user-friendly bit of kit.

Download ChemSketch

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Real-time 3D animation & video production – iClone5

3D animation program, iClone, has released its latest version 5.3 with some new updates, from developers Reallusion. iClone allows you to create stunning 3D animations either from scratch or you have the option to work from various templates or pre-made designs.

This latest version includes a variety of new features including Seamless Motion Connection, creating more fluid, vivid and realistic movements with your 3D characters, and Ambient Occulism, a lighting feature in the program that adds a wealth of realism to your designs. The attention to detail with iClone’s features are what make it an ideal program for 3D animation, and is worth giving time to explore the 30 day free trial and seeing if it’s the right choice of software for you.

Trust us, you will need to give the trial a great deal of attention as the full software clocks up a price in the region of $80 for the Standard version and $200 for the Pro version, so make sure you know what you are getting. There are other options for the software; however they do not come with as many features. There is also a great deal of add on tools and content available from Reallusion, if you’re looking to expand the software’s capabilities but these, of course, do not come free. As a result of this, iClone limits its users to animation professionals and bigger companies that would use the software.

iClone 5.3 is an impressive piece of software and it’s worth checking out the free trial at the very least. If you’re working in the field of 3D design and animation then iClone is definitely something of interest.

Download iClone

 

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Create “film quality” images and 3D graphics with NVIDIA Gelato

Gelato was a program designed by US tech company NVIDIA, most noted for their work on graphic processing units (GPUs). First released in 2008, Gelato is a high quality rendering software designed for creating stunning “film quality” images and 3D graphics.

Gelato runs quite fast. You can render your images with great ease and simplicity, making it an ideal image rendering program for everyone from graphic designers to students, or even if you just like toying around with images.

As NVIDIA themselves put it, the software is “fully featured” including their own Sorbetto interactive relighting technology as well as Network Parallel Rendering.

What may be of particular interest to students and freelance designers is that NVIDIA’s Gelato is free of charge, so unlike some of its counterparts, you’re getting a high quality program for nothing.

Gelato is a little outdated now however. NVIDIA have removed it from their site and released Optix instead . As a result, NVIDIA haven’t released any updates for the program and will not be issuing any new updates to the Gelato software in the future. Since then, there have been various new image rendering programs that have emerged.

Gelato has a number of system requirements needed in order to get started, including two other NVIDIA products – the workstation GPU Quadro FX and NVIDIA’s GPU GeForce 5200, or a GPU of a higher standard, are both needed.

NVIDIA’s Gelato is a solid piece of software, built for the purpose, but with it no longer being available through NVIDIA and no longer being updated, it can easily be left behind by some of the more recent image rendering programs that are out there, free or otherwise.

download NVIDIA Gelato

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XnConvert – batch image-converter and resizer

XnConvert is an image converting program that supports over 500 image formats for easy single and batch image editing and converting. The software has all the standard tools for image editing, whether it’s cropping and watermarking, or adding slick effects to your images. The interface makes for a simple approach to your image editing and converting. Crucially, XnConvert’s interface allows for multi-image editing simultaneously and for the most part, the program is convenient to use for the these tasks.


There’s an easy ‘Clear All’ button for getting rid of your changes and starting fresh on the image but the lack of an ‘Undo’ button is a little testing at times. However, the simple ‘before’ and ‘after’ tabs above your image editing make for quick comparisons as you work. Similarly, there are arrow buttons below your work screen to move easily between each of the images you’re working on. XnConvert’s ease of use is definitely its greatest strength.

XnConvert isn’t an essential program but would be more useful for slightly more casual image editing and not for frequent, more in depth image editing. Other free programs like GIMP are better equipped for that.

Download XnConvert

 

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Get maximum flexibility over your desktop with Dexpot

Dexpot is a Windows virtual desktop tool with advanced features that give you maximum flexibility over your screen space, and increases productivity by grouping different apps and functions on different screens.

A full screen preview gives you an at-a-glance look at all your desktops, while the desktop manager toolbar is used for quick switching, or for showing all active applications. There are plenty of customizations that allow you to work faster including shortcuts via the keyboard, mouse or hotkeys. Move windows to other desktops using drag and drop.

Each desktop can be customized with different wallpaper, applications, and event triggers, and plugins are also available for increased functionality, like the slideshow feature that automatically moves from one desktop to another.

Dexpot helps you clear your desktop of clutter and you can have different wallpapers, files and shortcuts on each desktop. Each desktop can be customized, and you can set it up with custom functions including starting a different set of applications when you visit each desktop for the first time.

Dexpot is an excellent tool for clearing up your workspace and creating customised work areas. Different desktops can be used for different categories, for example set up one desktop for work, another for media, and another for personal use. Each desktop will be ready with all the applications and settings you need to get started right away.

download Dexpot GbR

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