… by Aaron Hockley
You’re a blogger and probably aren’t a professional graphic artist, but you know how important it is to include images with your blog posts. Stock photos are often boring so you want to show off some of your own photos. Let’s take a look at four options for image manipulation that don’t involve the huge learning curve or capital investment of full-blown Photoshop.
- Picnik (online, free) – Picnik is a decent image editor that can crop, resize, and perform global color adjustments to images online. If you use Flickr, you’ll find Picnik integration is built-in (on the Actions menu above a photo, choose Edit Photo in Picnik.
- Adobe Photoshop Elements (Windows, Mac, $72) – unlike its $700 big brother, Photoshop Elements doesn’t attempt to edit the kitchen sink. That said, if you’re a casual photographer preparing images for the web, odds are that you’ll be able to do everything you’ll want from this basic version of Photoshop. Based on the full Photoshop application, Photoshop Elements packs tons of useful features. Cropping, color adjustments, layers, cloning, image stitching and more can all be found. If you’re going to do much with photos, I strongly recommend Photoshop Elements as the best all-around image editing tool for casual photographers.
- GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program (Windows, Mac, Linux, free) – The GIMP is a powerful open source image editing program that’s evolved in a fashion that provides a substantial portion of the functionality of Adobe Photoshop. While it’s powerful, I see two things that might turn someone off about GIMP. The first is that (just like the full version of Photoshop) all of that power involves a pretty steep learning curve. The second is that as an open source project that wants to be like Photoshop, you’ll find that it’s just different enough that most Photoshop tutorials won’t directly translate or apply (which helps contribute to that steep learning curve).
- Paint.NET (Windows, free) – Paint.NET is another open source image editing program – this one based on Microsoft’s .NET software development framework. If you’re a Windows user, check it out since it offers a great set of features for that platform. While it doesn’t have quite as many features or polish as Photoshop Elements, for the types of tasks that bloggers often need (resizing, cropping, perhaps a black and white conversion, sharpening) you’ll probably find that Paint.NET can meet most of your needs.
What tools have you used? What are the best ways you’ve found to get images ready for your blog?