Free image editors – Prepare images for your website

If you run a website with updateable content areas, such as an e-commerce platform or content management system, the chances are you’ve been called upon to edit or enhance your own images to make them ‘web friendly’.

Adobe Photoshop has long been the industry standard for image manipulation among professionals. However its costly nature and feature-laden interface are generally a turn-off for casual users. Luckily there are a plethora of free and useful alternatives available for download. A selection of which are outlined in this article.

These free image editors can be divided into two categories:

  • Downloadable Image Editing Software
  • Web-Based Image Editors

Downloadable Image Editing Software

A great deal of image editing software is available on the Internet for free download, with varying levels of functionality – and which you choose will depend largely on your requirements. The programs are all one-time downloads, with an advantage over web based image editors in that they do not rely on an Internet connection for use, and won’t be adversely affected by loading times and similar.

The GIMP

One of the most used and well known ‘free’ image editing software packages, GIMP is short for GNU Image Manipulation Program. First developed in 1995, this open source editing software is available in many guises. It is compatible with Apple, Linux and Windows operating systems. The GIMP boasts a wide range of features that enable images to edited or enhanced. It can even be set out to mimic the layout of Photoshop. Since The GIMP is open source there are many tutorials to help guide users through the editing process.

Paint.NET

Paint.NET was developed to be a free alternative to the Windows bundled paint software. But over time has grown to be a simple to use but effective image editing tool.  Although only compatible with Microsoft operating systems, this software offers much of the functionality that its paid alternatives. Again, there are many online tutorials to help guide users through image editing.

Web Based Image Editors

As the name suggests, online free image editors are accessed directly through an Internet browser from any location. And so don’t need software download or installation. They allow users to upload images, to which adjustments and changes can be made using a variety of built-in tools and filters. The resulting images can subsequently be saved to your local machine.

Pixlr

Pixlr has been designed with both professional and non-professional users in mind. Created using flash, this program allows users that only have simple editing needs such as editing web images to be posted on social networks or for personal use. However, it can also be used by professionals who need to edit images for websites. Since Pixlr is flash based, the speed of your computer will determine how fast this program will run. Also, Pixlr is in constant development so not all editing features may be available.

Sumo Paint

Sumo Paint is another flash based, cloud computing image editor. It is compatible with Apple, Linux and Windows operating systems. A relative newcomer to the image editing market, this program offers all the usual editing or enhancement options that the other major applications do. Sumo Paint also allows users to sign up for a free account. The account gives users some storage space and the ability to save image layers, etc.

Image Editor

Image Editor does not boast as many features as the other free image editors. But is quite easy and intuitive to use. This program could be used for simple image editing. It also has some predefined filters to allow users to apply different styles to text. As with the other online programmes, Image Editor is flash based and will perform better on faster machines.

All these image editing programs will allow you to crop and manipulate images. As well as providing some interesting features to enhance the appearance of the final images. Each program will have its own quirks. Some may perform better at handling specific tasks than others. Finding out which one suits your needs best is trial and error but all the above will give you the freedom to take an existing image and make it shine.