Following on from my first blog, “I can’t afford that software, now what? – Video”, now we’ll deal with images. There is a wide variety of image editing software available, ranging from digital image creation and drawing to photo editors. Some software packages cover the full range, while others are more focused on specific tasks within it.
Basic photo editing
Sometimes, you might require only very basic editing capabilities – such as cropping or resizing images. For such cases there are a wide variety of free tools available, some of which you may already have on your personal computer.
Description: Microsoft Paint is a very basic image and drawing application, which comes pre-installed on all Windows computers.
Benefits: For many needs, Paint may be too basic. However, Paint does include useful functions such as cropping, resizing, rotating, and text and painting tools.
Platform: Available on Windows only.
Description: Preview is the default image and PDF viewer that comes pre-installed on Macintosh computers.
Benefits: Preview is primarily an image viewing application. However, it includes useful functions such as cropping, resizing, rotating, and text and annotation tools.
Platform: Available on Mac only.
Photo editing software generally enables the user to edit and retouch images – including things such as filters and colour management tools. Many photo editors also offer tools for the creation of images such as pixel-based painting tools, stamps, etc. The following list includes open source, free, and cheaper alternatives to professional packages such as Adobe Photoshop.
Description: GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program, a free piece of software for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It works on many operating systems and in many languages.
Benefits: GIMP is a versatile graphics manipulation package, great for photo enhancement and digital retouching. GIMP can open a wide range of file types, including Adobe Photoshop .PSD files. Images edited or created in GIMP can also be exported to a variety of different file types, including .PNG, .JPEG, .GIF, .PSD, and more. GIMP offers a comprehensive user interface and powerful features that are comparable with Adobe Photoshop.
Platforms: Available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Ubuntu, and more.
Description: Pixlr is a free online image editor and composer.
Benefits: As an online image editing programme, Pixlr is hosted entirely in your web browser, meaning that many image editing, retouching, or creation processes can be done without downloading additional software. Pixlr offers a comprehensive user interface and many features that are comparable with Adobe Photoshop. Images edited or created in Pixlr can be saved in JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, and native PXD formats.
Platforms: Available on most operating systems; requires web browser and internet connection. Pixlr also offers free iOS and Android apps.
Description: Paint.net is a free image and photo editing software for PCs that run windows; intended as a replacement to Microsoft Paint, Paint.net has evolved into a fully fledged image and photo editing package comparable with Adobe Photoshop.
Benefits: Paint.net is a simple but capable image and photo editor, featuring an intuitive and innovative user interface, support for layers, special effects, and a wide and powerful range of tools.
Platforms: Available for Windows.
Description: Pixelmator is a full-featured image editor for Mac.
Benefits: Pixelmator offers a comprehensive set of image editing and creating tools – such as image effects, layers, text editing, etc – with features comparable to Adobe Photoshop at an affordable price. Developed entirely for Mac, Pixelmator is fast and efficient; a complementary iOS app with Handoff support is available for iPhone and iPad. Pixelmator allows bitmap painting and image manipulation while also supporting vector drawing and tools.
Platforms: Available for Mac and iOS.
Vector image editing
Vector graphics use mathematical expressions to create images that can be scaled infinitely without losing quality. Vector images are particularly useful for things such as logos, icons, diagrams, or other graphics that may need to be used at various sizes. The list below contains open source and cheaper alternatives to professional vector imaging software such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.
Description: Inkscape is a professional quality vector graphics software for creating a wide variety of graphics.
Benefits: Inkscape offers sophisticated drawing tools with capabilities comparable to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. It offers a comprehensive set of features such as object creation (paths, Bezier curves, and text tools), transformations, layers, bitmap and vector fills, and path tracing and conversion. Inkscape can import and export to various file formats including SVG, AI, EPS, PDF, PS, and PNG.
Platforms: Available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Description: iDraw is a premium vector illustrator for Mac OSX and iOS.
Benefits: iDraw offers premium features of a vector design and illustration application – including appearance effects, text editing, and support for a range of file types (including Adobe) – for a comparatively low price. iDraw supports vector gradients, vector brushes, and CMYK and RGB colour profiles (meaning it is great for print and web design). iDraw has a complementary iPad app and supports handoff integration between the app and the desktop versions.
Platforms: Available on Mac and iOS.