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Crafting Digital Media: Audacity, Blender, Drupal, GIMP, Scribus, and other Open Source Tools [Paperback]

Daniel James
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Aug 2011
Following on from the success of Apress Beginning GIMP, comes another book that will appeal to all creative Linux users and artists. In this book, Daniel James, a professional free software artist, expands beyond GIMP to allow artists to work across 2D art, 3D art, video, and other formats in their creative work. A natural companion book to Beginning GIMP that broadens and complements what GIMP can achieve.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 1 Pap/Cdr edition (2 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430218878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430218876
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 18.5 x 22.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 679,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Daniel James is the director of 64 Studio Ltd, a company developing custom GNU/Linux multimedia products for OEMs. He was the founder and original director of the consortium, which promotes the use of GNU/Linux and Free Software in the professional audio field. Daniel is based in the UK and formerly worked on LinuxUser & Developer magazine, serving as Editor until early 2007. He has also contributed articles on music recording and related technology to Linux Format and Sound on Sound magazines.

Product Description


I give it five out of five stars. Consider it a Most Highly Recommended purchase - Dave Phillips
--Linux Journal, February 1, 2010

From the Publisher

This is a book for anyone using GNU/Linux who wants to be creative employing the tools GNU/Linux has to offer them. It is for GNU/Linux artists who want to make their tools serve their creative goals, while not having to worry about the money to pay for those tools. It is a book for anyone who wants to be a part of the creative community in GNU/Linux.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an interesting book! 28 Sep 2010
As a newcomer to being a potential Linux user I need to know what programmes are available in this alien system, what they do, how reliable they are, and how to learn to use them. This book is a great guide. I repeat what I have said in all my previous reviews from the perspective of a novice. A good book inspires in the reader the confidence to use and want to learn more about the topics that it discusses. This book provides a great introduction to a range of programmes and, in my case, inspires the reader to go on to learn more from other books in the future. I hope that others may feel as I do after reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars outdated but informative 13 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because the price was low. It turned out to be an excellent buy even though the book is somewhat out of date. It led me to a good many software products that I did not know existed and before i finished the book I had downloaded a dozen or so great programs that I now cannot do without. It is outtdated but at a chepa price it cannot be beat for starting someone off in the field.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tools, not techniques 3 Jan 2010
By Kyle Maxwell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Crafting Digital Media does what it says it will do: explains to creative professionals how to use Free / Open Source Software tools for their work. While Daniel James explains things in such a way that technical types can certainly get a lot out of the book, he really focuses on teaching artists and other people comfortable with the creative work how to do what they want to do with software for which they not only don't have to pay but also have the rights to modify and use for any purpose they like.


The book starts off with a fairly cogent explanation of free software, GNU, the GPL, Linux, and even includes a headshot of Richard Stallman (something we don't see often for any number of reasons). After the obligatory chapter on how to install and use Linux (primarily focused on Ubuntu and GNOME), he moves right into the set of tools. F-Spot, GIMP, and XSane get a bit of coverage, as one might expect, but the following chapter covers Inkscape (for vector graphics) and FontForge, both of which receive ample attention. Animation gets its own chapter as well, using GIMP, KToon, and Synfig. Obviously, the 3D modeling chapter centers almost exclusively around Blender. Typesetting mentions TeX (though not LaTeX), but primarily relegates it to programmers and instead chooses to explain Scribus in far greater detail.

Given the author's primary work interest, the three chapters on audio alone shouldn't surprise us, nor perhaps the jokes about mistreated drummers. One chapter deals with the creation of music, using terminatorX, Mixxx, Hydrogen, JACK, AlsaModularSynth, and seq24. The next audio chapter explains recording intricacies using Audacity (particularly for podcasts), Ardour, and even how to install a real-time Linux kernel. We get instruction on mixing and mastering using JACK and Ardour again, including JAMin, and even GNOME CD Master. Moving back to some of the earlier material, James presents the creation of CD labels using Inkscape to round out this part of the book.

Video editing uses Avidemux for conversion, Kino or dvgrab for grabbing the video from tape, and Open Movie Editor for nonlinear editing. Interestingly, these tools really exemplify the Unix philosophy of small tools that do one thing well, and so the book explains how to pull together material from the graphics tools described earlier and chain things together rather than use one large suite. This may require a perspective adjustment for users accustomed to the Windows way, but James handles it well.

Finally, the chapter on web content talks a bit about Apache and MySQL, but generally recommends Drupal for content management and Icecast for streaming audio. The appendices are well-organized, with a brief but useful introduction to the command line, the GNU Free Documentation License (as a few bits of the book came from earlier FDL-licensed material), and a fairly complete index.


James writes engagingly and clearly, from the perspective of a creative professional quite comfortable with the technology he uses to accomplish his work. While he does occasionally delve into the explanations of "tar xzf filename ; configure ; make ; make install", he doesn't focus too much on installation but more on actually using the software tools. I found this a welcome respite from articles that seem to imply that everyone just needs help getting packages installed and gloss over how to use them. Given all the work that developers have put into Synaptic and the like, this is as it should be. James also covers a few bugs and other "gotchas", though generally the resolution is to upgrade to the newest versions of the software rather than what came packaged in the original release of Ubuntu 9.04.

I would have made a few other choices (Wordpress over Drupal as a CMS, for example) and perhaps spent a bit more time on image editing or even drawing and painting. Also, the video editing probably could have come before the audio portions, though again this is nothing more than a minor quibble and I can certainly understand the logic behind the placement as it stands. And I would have liked a little more coverage of finding, using, and publishing content with a Creative Commons license (and the benefits of doing so).

Don't expect this book to teach 3D modeling, music theory, or anything more than the very basics of photo manipulation. Crafting Digital Media focuses on tools rather than techniques, but it does that well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for absolute beginners 13 Jan 2012
By Penguin Pete - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wouldn't rave about this book, but it is a great introduction for the computing novice who wants to break into the world of free and open source software application for creating multimedia. Aspiring artists in both visual and aural media will find this an important stepping-stone in learning their way through those beginner baby steps. And I mean it literally starts you out with installing Ubuntu, and guides you along holding you by the hand from there. You'll be plowing out dubstep beats in RoseGarden and CD labels in Gimp before you know it.

That being said, users of a more proficient level won't be very interested in this, because it's very much "Open Source 101".
5.0 out of 5 stars About time 30 Aug 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
About time someone wrote something like this. There are many great alternative software out there which are just as good as their paid counter parts
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the CD? 2 Sep 2012
By Steven A. Mccollough - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is very detailed - a bit too much for me, since I am not a beginning PC user, but I do appreciate the detail on all of the tools in the GIMP, for example.

The screenshots are of very low quality, and it's difficult to tell what the icons look like in them.

Also, for whatever reason, the seller didn't provide the CD that the book says is included. I suppose it's not that big a deal, since I assume that all of the software that would have been on it is available online for free, but still - bad form.

All that said, it's still the only book that I'm aware of that covers the breadth of open source apps that it does.
4.0 out of 5 stars good one 28 April 2011
By aunt dracula - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
some minor editing errors and odd use of page space, but overall this book is super helpful for getting started with a bunch of free software. it covers a lot of topics, and gives you enough info to get working with a bunch of cool, free tools.
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