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How to make money with free software


This is not directly Blender related, but I found this so d*mn inspiring that I just had to mention it here.

Stani (that's right - from Stani's Python Editor!) won a contest by the Dutch Ministry of Finance, the goal of which was to design the new 5 euro commemorative coin with the theme 'Netherlands and Architecture'.

He created his entry using only open source software - Python (obviously), the gimp, Inkscape and Phatch (a photo batch processor). Awesome stuff - the full background of the creative process and pictures of the real coin and of Stani included in his article.

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. That's pretty dang cool. I'm attempting to use more free/open source software in my pipeline. Not just because it's budget friendly, but because it gives me something different. Blender, for instance, gives me a specific feel to my work that is different to the Maya/Max/XSI/Zbrush people. Less refined? More refined? Who knows what the element is ...

    I can also see some people going to post "Making money with free software? That's horrible" ... I seem to remember people throwing fits about that a while ago. Silly people. They're paying for the time and talent not the software usage!

  2. Love the side of the coin with the letters and the face of the queen. Think it's very clever. The side with the book however is a bit of a let down for me.

    A colleague remarked though that the design has little to do with architecture. If you change the names to those of footballers, does it become a commemorative coin for that sport?

  3. Wow, congratulations, Stani! That's a really impressive accomplishment! And the coin design itself is really brilliant. It's not at all surprising that you won. Nice work.

  4. Wow, the title kinda mislead me.

    i thought it was about a business model or something like that: Making money creating free software.


  5. @kinduun: yeah, I was hoping it meant that... I thought it was as well, but then again, the picture is of a coin, so... yeah. :D

  6. Nice literal title!

    Some notes however.. the coin agreements state only one side can be different, the side of the value should be the same everywhere. Also the unique side should always display the country name and year.

    I guess this will be the first special coin from The Netherlands. (The coin with 'Verdrag van Rome' was given out by each country in the euro zone in 2007.)

    Congrats to the creator..

  7. I thought the article would be about running a business with open source software (which I currently do anyway, and wouldn't have it any other way), but this was much better (possibly because of my Dutch heritage). I love the originality of the design and think the Stani did a wonderful job. I'd like to see some of the other designs too.

  8. cograts on the prize, nice execution but the coin looks ugly and has no direct impression with dutch architecture or do you consider the queens hairdew so?.
    I do call my country Holland. just the neitherbeings call it netherland. :P
    (well looked at the geezer that made that statement and he off course liked the matrix, bullet time was a great sfx but go read the bible if you like stories of a lone saviour against a bad system. Amen)

  9. Neat stuff.

    Does anyone know how the image is transfered to the coin? It looks printed rather than pressed as I'm familiar with.

  10. It is for sure tabloid headline for this news. Making coin of course, but money???? .... LOL.
    BTW interesting one but i can't figure out how they will imprint(pressed) that coin. I think its too complex. The most good looking coin I've ever seen was not so complex, they just had own soul, and was imprinted.

  11. So, obviously there should be a discussion about open-source business model.
    We need this discussion please, Bart.

    Especially since the game engine is new and improved and to add to that you can't really sell games made with the blenderplayer runtime.

    Please, lets start talking about serious stuff.


  12. @kinduun: BlenderNation is a newssite, not a forum. If you'd like to discuss this, I suggest posting something on



  13. I just saw this in a commercial on Dutch television! It contained a 3d animation of the coint - do you know if that was done in Blender, Stani?

  14. Congrats to Stani - this is an inspired piece of design, and very cleverly executed. I'm glad he won, he deserved to.

    I'm definitely going to try to pick up one of these when I pass through Holland later this month.

  15. jeeten hurloll on

    i really like the depth of knowledge that has been compacted seamlessly into the 2 sides of the coin.
    a classical timeless masterpiece,that should be also made as collectionnable item like a precious watch in a limited series.

    i'm sure this will become an icon.
    brilliant mixture of technology and art.

  16. Very cool, very cool indeed! Hooray for real money. Shame we lost our dutch paper money to the blend euro. ( did you know dutch money is voted best (graphic) design by the dutch public ). 3x hoera!


  17. @Borders:
    Would you please explain why making money with free software goes against the freedom? FYI, the first time Linus Torvalds published his kernel he made it freely available but he didn't authorize the commercial use. The GNU project couldn't use it because that license restricted the freedom of selling the software. Then Linus adopted the GPL and GNU/Linux appeared. Curious, isn't it?
    Making money with free software isn't something evil. You can sell support or programming services, you can design using free sofware and sell your production (I do that for living), you can make 3D with free software and it's ok to expect a retribution for your work. We live in a world where you have to pay what you eat so money is a necessary evil.
    I'm not talking about becoming rich and create a big corporation that does everything for money, though. But any of us need some money to live, so why not earning it using free software?
    Even when it comes to selling software copies, the software freedom isn't violated if the the freedom of sharing your own copy with your friends is allowed (and the other 3 freedoms, of course).

  18. @Bart

    Sorry for the late reply. Unfortunately I was not involved in the commercial for the Dutch television. If I had the choice I would have done it differently and looked for some blenderheads ;-)

    There will be the 28th of march a documentary on the 10th anniversy on the French television FR3. They also interviewed me as they found this one of the most remarkable euro coin. However I suspect I will only appear 1-2 minutes.

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