I am convinced in the power of data visualization whether it is in static 2D/3D or even an animation.
High quality data visualization is not only usefull to make people understand complex problem but also allows creator to close look at things, in order to make it clear and summarize what he knows about his current topic. In the same spirit, it can also be used as a pedagogic material to teach.
A list of softwares I use to build visualisations:
- Inkscape: vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator
- GIMP: an image retouching and editing tool
- Blender: very powerfull 3D creation softwares. Main features are 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, animating, match moving, camera tracking, rendering, video editing and compositing.
- matplotlib: python library to produce high quality plots. See examples here.
- Vispy: high-performance interactive 2D/3D data visualization library.