It’s a problem an awful lot of sci-fi and fantasy creators have. We’re very dependent on expensive creativity software to make our stuff. It didn’t used to be that way. We could buy what we needed once, and use it for ten years if we had to before upgrading. Then Adobe switched everything to a subscription-only model, and forced everyone to pay up. Every year.

Enter Stuart Semple, the guy that jailbroke Pantone with FreeTone (it is free) and gave us the world’s blackest black, pinkest pink and digital chrome paint. He is trying to create a new suite of software that you buy to own instead of being on the hook to Adobe forever. It’s called ABODE.

ABODE says: Stop paying rent. If you’ve ever looked for a favorite show on a streaming service and found it was removed, or updated an app and found a favorite feature was gone, or simply want to upgrade when you’re ready and not because you were forced to, you know the disadvantages of subscriptions. When it’s a big team working for a big company and everyone uses the same system, subscriptions make more sense. But for freelancers, independents, hobbyists and fans, owning the software on your own computer is a lot safer and more reliable. Your software will still work fine even if the company is bought out or goes out of business.

In his own words:

“Hello, I’m Stuart and I’m working on a very special software suite for us creators.

Sadly, the corporate overlords have chucked us out in the cold, constantly raising the rent and shifting the goalposts.

We are building you a brand new suite of world-class design and photography tools, with an uncanny similarity to the tools you’ve been indoctrinated in.

For a long time, we owned the software we used. Sadly, that is a thing of the past, we now rent the tools of our trade.

This means that whenever the landlord feels like it, they can put the rent up. Or remove our features (anyone else woke up recently to your colour palette becoming black squares?)

It’s time that we made and owned our own tools. To be free we need to own our means of production.”

The software is modeled after Photoshop and Adobe Suite, and is planned to be compatible with cloud storage including DropBox, iCloud, Google Cloud, Amazon storage, etc…

Semple is running a Kickstarter to fund ABODE development and says he already has a team of programmers, with delivery estimated in about a year. That actually is pretty fast for software development. Semple also promises lifetime updates and beta testing for backers. That’s something we haven’t seen in corporate software in a long time.

He’s done work for Moncler, Placebo, Selfridges, L’Oreal, Logitech, Bulgari, and The Prodigy, and been featured in WIRED. None of this guarantees success but it does say the project has a level of professionalism that many don’t. And he has delivered 3 previous Kickstarters. ABODE is almost funded on its first day.

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter if you want to get involved:

We do not currently endorse this project ourselves, but we think it’s worth looking at. We also think Semple might be swiftly running into trouble with Adobe’s attorney’s over the project name and logo, though. This is the very definition of “confusing similarity”. We also suspect that Semple knows this and has a backup name for his project in mind just in case, and is just using the opportunity to drop his figurative pants and moon Adobe.

Watch this space.

Above is a sample of Stuart’s art. It’s called “Poundland”.

There are already a great many alternative software packages for creators. If you’d like more on low cost or open source software, Moonray, the open source rendering engine, is now available for free download. Here is a page that will lead you to more open source art tools, including some very powerful options for 2d and 3d art and animation.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.