Free Image Editors and Photoshop Look-alikes
You may have read George Engel's piece on Graphics Programs other than Photoshop, saying : "you can't afford Photoshop because... " -- we agree, GraphicsConverter and Picasa are two to look at. But did you know there are a cool selection of online imaged editors that have considerable powers, yet won't cost a dime? Plus, if you learn to like any of them, they have "upgrades" for just a few dollars. Let's take a look at our favorites:
Artweaver is easy to use through a clear and simple program window . The individual palettes can be displayed or hidden, to make a optimal organization of the work environment possible. You get a simple selection of pre-defined brushes, and custom brushes can be added. Artweaver is Freeware, therefore it is usable without restrictions. We recommend giving them a little donation just to keep the spirits up!
Artweaver from Boris Eyrich, Germany
Picnik is an interesting free online service. Fix your photos with advanced controls to fine-tune your results -- Crop, resize, and rotate in real-time -- fonts and type tool; shapes from hand-picked designers; orks on Mac, Windows, and Linux, etc. No download required, nothing to install but if you want more features, you'll have to upgrade to a Premium version for $24.95 a year!
Pixlr is an online collection of cloud-based image tools. There are two applications, Pixlr Editor and Pixlr Express. They are built in Flash so you need to have a Flash plug in. Pixlr can now open Photoshop PSD files in the Image editor and Photo Express. There are a lot of hidden powers here including sampling of white, grey and black points in the curves dialogue. The Image editor opens layers and the express version open a flattened version -- duplicate layers , desaturate, erasing items, etc.
Aviary is an online set of tools that all work in your browser. Phoenix is the basic layer-based image editor; Peacock, is a visual laboratory for creating amazing effects and visualizations and Toucan is their color pallette coordinator. They're working on an alpha test of Raven, a vector editor, and Talon, a Firefox extension for screen capturing. Aviary has a free basic plan and a premium Pro plan for $24.99 a year.
PhotoPlus 9 is a free version of a commercial product that does basic image editing with duplicate layers , desaturate, and erasing items. (See our review
of Serif products) The $10 full version lets you open, edit and save Adobe Photoshop files for complete compatibility with other Photoshop users and online resource providers. Create composite images by cutting your subject and pasting it to a different background using the Extract Tool and Background Eraser. Transform your photos in to works of art with styles like watercolour, Old Master, van Gogh and many more. FreeSerifSoftware.com is part of Serif, developer and publisher of desktop publishing, design and graphics software for the PC -- founded in 1987.
Try them and see if they work for you! These programs come recommended by any number of online graphics reviewers, and I played with them myself for more time than I would usually spend on such a review. But they are great fun. For the novice, they are clearly defined and all have good online tutorials. Some also have immediate or direct upload to FaceBook, LiveJournal, Flickr, and other social networking sites!
Most important : if you know of others, or have your particular favorite, just let me know so I can add it to this article!
Thanks for reading. Until next time... keep on imaging
Fred Showker, Editor/Publisher
I'd love to hear about your experiences, or your favorite typography products. Please drop me a line and let's share with all DT&G readers!
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