These products were all free to use at the time of writing. Many offer enhanced options that you may have to pay for. This article is not an advertorial, nor does it contain sponsored links.
Most professional graphic designers and photographers will use products like Adobe Photoshop for image editing – they’re brilliant products, but come with a big learning curve and are expensive (Adobe has moved over to a monthly rental for their software) and probably have features you’ll never use. So if you don’t want to learn Photoshop and/or can’t afford it, there are free alternatives to editing your images…
Free! Really? Yes, all these products are free to use. The development and ongoing costs are typically paid for by advertising on screen, or the expectation that enough people will opt for some of the paid options. However, because they’re free, you need to keep in mind that they might not be around forever. Things change, circumstances alter, so always have a plan B, just in case…
Pixlr – pixlr.com
When you run Pixlr, you are given the choice of running the full-blown Editor app or the cut down Express version.
The Pixlr Express gives a good range of adjustments and effects that are easy to use, and for many people, this will be all they need to realistically or artistically enhance their image. The web app runs reasonably fast using Adobe Flash, although the faster computer you have, the faster it will run.
The controls fall into the following categories; adjustment, effect, overlay, borders, stickers, and type. Some of the changes you can make are brutal and it’s easy to overdo an image, but ultimately, if you like it, that’s all that matters. The key aspect of Pixlr Express is its simplicity. Almost anyone will be able to make adjustments and enhancements to their images and photos, whether for fun or other!
The Editor web app is fairly similar to the ubiquitous Photoshop. You’ll find most of the Photoshop’eque editing tools in the tool palette on the left, and the menus will contain familiar items and terms. You also get layers too which is a bonus. Speed of use is not too bad, although on my computer, it did feel a little clunky and jerky at times, but on a new, top-of-the-range computer, I would expect it to be better.
If you don’t know Photoshop, then you’ll probably be a little lost at first. If you do know Photoshop, then it will all be familiar, but you might also find yourself wishing it was a little faster – but then again, it’s free. I think I would struggle if this was my only image editing application – it certainly has a place, and I’m sure as time goes by, it will only get better and better.
Because it’s free, there is some advertising on screen, although it’s not in your face and I guess the developers need some income!
Fotor – fotor.com
Fotor uses HTML5 rather than Flash as the ‘engine’, so seems to run better than Pixlr Express, and has a more modern feel to it. Once you’ve uploaded your image, there are a variety of changes you can make, including Basic editing, Effects, Beauty, Frames, Sticker and Text.
Although Fotor is free to use, there is a ‘paid for’ version that unlocks some of the options in each of the editing modes. You can get by without the paid version, and you can see what the optional effects would look like, but you get a watermark across your image!
Some of the beauty actions will help to make portrait or facial photographs look more pleasing (remove wrinkles in a click!) so will be popular with the subjects in your photos.
Fotor is a neat web app that will suit anyone who wants to make adjustments to images for fun or effect. It’s modern and fast and worth a try. It’s no Photoshop, but a good contender for sprucing up your photos quickly and easily.
I will try to write about more web apps as I try them and get the time. If you search for ‘Free online photo editor’, you’ll get a list that you can try.
What do you use? Any recommendations?