I’m guessing you’re tuning in this week because you’re a blogger or other creative and you’re looking for ways that you can avoid investing in Photoshop, at least right now while you’re not sure how committed you are to blogging or while the income you’re getting from your blog is too small to justify the expense. Believe me, I have been there. The good news is that some of the tools I’ll be sharing in this post series are so great that I still use them, even now that my writing and blogging make a sustainable income.
Today’s focus is on my favorite three free alternatives to Photoshop that you can use on your computer. Two of the three require internet access, but other than that you can create images and tweak your own photos without any cost. Do they have paid features and offer paid services? Of course! However, they have enough features which are completely free to use for as long as you would like to make them perfectly valid parts of your web development arsenal.
1. Canva – Canva.com is by far my FAVORITE free photo editing option. I’ve made everything from blog graphics to printable worksheets using this tool. Another bonus is that after you’ve finished, all of your images are saved in the cloud. (You can change your privacy settings, don’t worry.) To make this tool exceptionally useful, they offer a wide variety of specialty dimensions whether you’re creating letterhead for your blog/business, or a Facebook post. Most of the images you see shared here, as well as on my social media accounts, will have been created in Canva. They also have a design school for those of us who are missing something in either the design savvy department, or in the technology department. (No pressure!) You’re probably wondering – if things are free, how do they make money? Not everything is free in Canva. Some of the templates for graphics are paid, as are some of the images you can choose from. However, if you want something specific and you want to create it cheaply, Canva can’t be beat. Plus, with their Canva for Work options (a subscription based service), you can expand and grow as your site evolves – if you need to.
2. PicMonkey – PicMonkey is my second favorite free photo editing tool. This photo editor is available online, so if you aren’t going to have an internet connection when working on your graphics you’ll need to keep scrolling. One thing that I love about PicMonkey is that it has a tie in with Google Drive, so if you use drive to store your images in the cloud then the transition from editor to file manager and back again is pretty seamless. Honestly my favorite features of PicMonkey are the photo filters (called “effects”) and the cosmetic tools. Whenever I’m tweaking actual photos of humans, this is my go-to editor. (They do have stickers/illustrations to throw onto existing photos and designs, similar to Canva, though.)
3. GIMP – Unlike the other options that I listed, GIMP (which stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a downloadable program that you actually put on your computer. That means that if you happen to be working from your laptop somewhere that doesn’t have wifi, or if your cable goes out, you’ll still be able to get images ready for your blog. GIMP has most, if not all, of the features that Photoshop offers but they have released this open source program for free public download. The program has been around for ages (just check the CNET listing!), so many people will have heard of it already, but I do want to stress that this is a great alternative if buying Photoshop isn’t in the cards right now, but you don’t think that the online offerings are substantial enough for your needs.
Updated: As of 3/24/16, Google made its photo editing suite under the name Google Nik available for free! If you’ve been looking for a cheap alternative to Photoshop and Light Room, this might be the solution for you! It’s another computer program, so be sure to give it a peek from a desktop or laptop to download it and give it a whirl.
What’s your photo editing secret weapon? If you know of a computer program or website which would be a huge help to bloggers who can’t afford Photoshop right now, sound off in the comments or hit me up on Social Media. I’d love to hear what I’m missing!
Additional Posts in this Series