TuxPaint is fine for younger artists, but older students need more powerful tools. Whether used for the design of corporate logos, complex diagrams, or fine art, a good illustration program should be on every computer used by students and teachers alike.

In the world of open source software, Inkscape more than fits the bill. This powerful program can be used to create anything from simple charts of amazingly complex images, and can export the finished work into a variety of formats compatible with virtually every other illustration program on the market.

When the program is launched, you’ll see a blank screen showing some of the many tools used for creating and editing images.

There are tools to let you create anything from freehand shapes to complex geometric structures. Tutorials in the program show how to use Inkscape to make lots of special drawing effects likely to meet your most demanding drawing needs. For example, a freehand closed shape can be filled with any color or gradient pattern you want, all with a few mouse clicks.

If your drawing skills are limited, the tools letting you create anything from spirals to polygons will get a big workout. For example, if you want to create a line of text that spirals out from the center, you need to type a line of text and draw a spiral.

Next, set the opacity of the spiral to zero (so the spiral itself isn’t visible), select both the text and the spiral and choose the Put on Path command from the text menu to wrap the text around the spiral.

Inkscape is a great addition to any computer. Most schools lack the budgets the put commercial equivalent programs on every or any computer. This is why free open source software is such a good idea. When the equivalent software is free, there is no reason to exclude it.