Saturday, December 28, 2013

Free Image-Editing Programs: A Review

It is always useful to have viable options to Photoshop and other expensive image editing software. However, which web-based and mobile friendly image / photo editors really work? This article reviews a few popular (and largely free) image editing software.

Free version (which has numerous enhancements), which allows photo editing, creating icons, badges, and graphics. Large array of fonts and quirky seasonal graphics (Day of the Dead, etc.), touch-up tools included, also can make collages. Overlays include hair, hats, stars, fireworks, “critters,” “buggles,” “ordinary beasts.” It is very cute and easy to use.
Attributes: cloud-based, not necessary to download, very easy to use interface. Really cute library of built-in graphics and effects.
Downsides: Some of the more useful tools and attributes are not free

Do you ever wonder what photo editing software celebrity publicists use? After seeing the examples in the website, I can see using the PortraitProfessional software before Photoshop. The lowest-cost version includes skin smoothing, eye enhancing, hair enhancing, face sculpting, mouth enhancing tools, along other portrait-specific tools.

There is a free 30-day trial, and three levels of features:
Studio Max: $119.95
Studio: $ 59.95
Standard: $ 39.95

Picasa is ideal for use with social media, particularly since it's owned by Google and works well with Google+ sharing and tagging. It's not available for Macs. Picasa continues to expand its offerings and now includes 24 new effects. Unfortunately, Picasa is not cloud-based, but is necessary to download to an individual computer.

GIMP 2.8
GIMP is one of the longest-lived free image editing software. It is ideal for image authoring, image editing, photo retouching, and image composition. It's not cloud-based – you must download it. The good news is that GIMP is available for Mac OS X, as well as Windows and Linux.

Pixlr has three basic cloud-based / web-based programs, and you can use Pixlr with your mobile device:
Pixlr Editor: Allows you to create a new image, or open from file or URL, and edit with a wide array of effects (including adding text)
Pixlr Express: web-based, with many different built-in overlays and stickers to allow you to create custom greeting cards. You may use images downloaded, from your webcam, or from a URL. It works quite well with Flickr images (tried out and enjoyed it a great deal).
Pixlr-Omatic: Pixlr-Omatic allows you to add effects (reminds me of Picasa's effects), along with a wid range of overlays and borders. You can save to your computer and also to the cloud at imm.oi

Benefits: Web-based, and you can use it with your mobile device (as a download, rather than web-based)
Downsides: There are almost too many options (!) – a guide to creating effective graphics would be quite helpful.

Now that you have more options, what are you going to do with your holiday photos? This is traditionally a time when photos are uploaded and shared, and when digital cards, greetings, graphics are created not only for social networking, but also for end-of-year reports, new year brochures, catalogues, and marketing pieces. It's time to truly differentiate yourself by means of dramatic images.

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