For designers and painters, a photo editing application with myriad features is essential. It’s a painter’s dream if the application is free and has amazing precision. It’s very difficult to find an application capable of editing and touching up images with such features as found in the likes of Adobe Photoshop. In this article, you will find seven great photo editing applications that come without a price tag.
1. The GIMP
The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free open source application available for all the desktop operating systems€”Linux, Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Sun OpenSolaris, and FreeBSD. The GIMP website is non-profit and the application development is done with the help of volunteering developers from around the world.
|Ooh! What a look! Thanks to GIMP for this image
Features available in the GIMP would make it more desirable than paid applications for image editing out there. The GIMP has all the tools that you need for painting€”brushes (custom and pattern-based), pencil tool, airbrush, etc.; powerful gradient editor; sub-pixel sampling; editing tools including layered editing; plugin support for adding support for additional file formats; etc. These are only a few features, and the full list will fill an entire page.
The file formats supported in GIMP by default itself include BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, MNG, PCX, PDF, PS, PSD, SVG, TGA, XPM, etc. And you can extend this capability with the help of plugins.
The GIMP actively seeks donations from the user community. This will keep the amazing GIMP project go on smoothly toward the future.
This is also a highly feature-rich free application that gets going with user donations. PhotoScape has top tabs like Viewer, Editor, Batch Editor, etc., and each has its own advanced functions. The viewer gives you thumbnail views of the photos, and they are arranged in folders visible on the side.
|PhotoScape for Windows
The editor is powerful with a number of features. Image resizing, brightness and contrast adjustments, backlight correction, adding text balloons, cropping, red eye removal, etc., are only a few of the available features. Another great option in PhotoScape is the capability to combine multiple photos and create a movie in the popular Animated GIF format. There is also a Splitter that can cut a photo into a number of pieces.
In fact, this application should be marketed as GetPaint.net as the default paint.net domain belongs to a specialty coating business. Paint.NET became one of the top hundred applications as reviewed by PC World in 2007. It’s an impressive free application just like the ones above with loads of features. It also generates revenue from user submitted donations rather than through a commercial version.
Although it sounds like an online application, it’s not. You can download the application to a Windows PC that has Microsoft .NET framework 3.5 SP1. The versions from Windows XPService Pack 1 are supported by this application.
|Paint.NET (Image credit : getpaint.net)
is a very fast photo editor with lots of features. You can blur and sharpen images, apply other styling to them including noise, distortion, embossing, etc., and you can use the advanced 3D rotation/zoom feature to generate tilted objects on your image. It has powerful drawing tools to create basic patterns, curves, and shapes. It has also got the selection tool known as Magic Wand just like the one found in Photoshop.
This is an online photo retouching tool with many features as offered by offline software. The software however, doesn’t give you any painting options. You can upload image files from your computer or get an image from a URL to start editing it.
One of the disadvantages is that it gives support for only jpg and png formats to save the file. However, you can save a file to social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Picasa, Photobucket, etc. The array of effects available includes blurring, sharpening, red eye removal, pixelation, posterize, various distortions, etc. It could be regarded as a replacement for a desktop photo editing application.
is also an online image editing program. As soon as you open it, you will get an interface similar to an offline image editor. The clean interface makes it appealing to use this app. The tools given are almost as diverse as given by the GIMP or any other program we saw earlier, but it’s good for only simple image creation and basic editing. The painting tools, brush, pencil, sharpen tool, smudge tool, sponge tool, etc., are similar to the ones you find on Adobe Photoshop.
Besides these, layered editing is possible. Other image enhancement options include brightness, contrast, hue & saturation, red eye reduction, color balance, cropping, inversion, sepia, posterize, pixellation, vignette, etc.
The interface loads faster and works well on all popular browsers.
6. Pixia & Phierha
This is a set of two applications available for download for the Windows versions since XP. This software was developed by the Japanese and they have a website set up for future feature requests and support.
Looking through some of the images, I feel the software package is very powerful. However, the user interface may come as a disappointment for many. It was developed at first to support artists in the anime and manga genre. Since it’s primarily a Japanese product, it differs in user interface and tools available in many respects. This may make the software less favorable in the US market.
This is another online image editing program that has painting options as well. Sadly enough this is not AJAX or HTML 5 based, and that makes the application rather slow to work with. However, the features available are plenty. Every click on the application reloads the page with the effect added, thus making it unusable on slow internet connections.
While painting with it, after each stroke, you have click ‘apply’ in order to have it actually placed in the canvass. This makes the application disappointing despite a huge array of image manipulation features.
Those were the seven major applications that have impressive photo editing capabilities. These applications could be regarded as great replacements for desktop and online apps that come with a price tag. I have taken care to eliminate the ones that come with free and pro editions as well. In fact, for image editing, you don’t have to rely upon an application that comes with a hefty price tag.