Free Photo Editing Tools

We all know how important graphics are to building a successful brand identity. But starting a new business can mean you’re working with a pretty tight budget.  Wherein lies the dilemma: you need to edit graphics for your website, social media accounts, & marketing materials but don’t want to break the bank purchasing expensive photo editing software.  So, here are a few awesome alternatives to Photoshop that are all available for free:

1. Pixlr

Pixlr provides three separate “in-browser” photo editing applications. To use these applications you must have a web browser that supports flash (alternatively they can be downloaded to certain mobile devices).

First, there’s Pixlr Editor. Its layout mimics that of the Adobe suite of products, so if you’ve used Photoshop before, this won’t feel foreign at all.  The tool collection also resembles that of Photoshop. Pixlr Editor provides you with a layers panel, to keep everything organized, as well as an image navigator and action history panel which also come in quite handy.

Second on the list of Pixlr products is Pixlr Express. Within this application you’ll find basic resizing and cropping functions as well as photo filters, clip art, special effects and text.  It doesn’t provide you with all the bells and whistles that Pixlr Editor does, but it’s still a lot of fun, and can definitely bring a drab photo to life quickly.

Pixlr-o-matic is the last of the Pixlr suite of products, and the simplest of them all. This application allows you to quickly throw some Instagram-like filters and fun textures onto your photos.  And it has a fun user interface designed to look like a photo developing tray sitting in a darkroom.

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2. Gimp

Gimp (which stands for “General Image Manipulation Software”) is not new at all to the photo editing game.  It has been around since circa 1996.  So they know what they’re doing.  This is another one of my favorites, but unlike Pixlr this software does not work in your browser.  You will have to download it.  Gimp’s interface, like Pixlr Editor’s, is reminiscent of Photoshop from the layout down to the individual tool icons.  A couple of the great features Gimp offers are the ability to customize the interface to your liking and  a full-screen option to minimize distractions.

3. PicMonkey

PicMonkey, like Pixlr is an in-browser software…but much more pared-down.  It provides basic cropping and resizing tools, as well as a good amount of filters and textures that can be applied to your images.  PicMonkey lacks some of the more complex tools that Pixlr Editor provides, such as the variety of selection tools, and features like dodge and burn.  But for a less experienced user, a more basic interface might be a good thing.

Special thanks to Mr. Pickles and Carte Blanche for their photographs in the screenshots above.