Free Alternatives to Photoshop

Anyone who’s ever dabbled in website design has probably needed to use image editing software at one time or another. To many it might appear as if there are only one or two options out there. The primary option being an expensive program from Adobe called Photoshop that costs around $300, and a few others like PaintShop Pro and Pixelmator that range from $50 to $100. However, there are two other powerful options that are completely free.

Gimp

While the name might conjure up thoughts of a Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” Gimp stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program (GNU is free software licensing system). The best feature of Gimp is its price tag…free. This open source software is a powerful alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop featuring the ability to create graphic designs through layering images.

It has an extensive plug-in library that continually grows, offering new features for graphic image manipulation. Some developer or user might create a plug-in that makes a photo look like a velvet painting. You can then download these plug-ins and use them free of charge in your version of Gimp.

Gimp also supports the Adobe Photoshop format for paintbrushes. These are a powerful tool within the application that are generally themed and make it easy to add potent imagery to your work. Paintbrushes may be themed around gardens, Japanese letters, Goth imagery, cars or just about anything you can imagine. They’re a flexible, powerful way to take your logos or website images to the next level.

Find this program at http://www.gimp.org.

Inkscape

Another powerful, free program for creating images is Inkscape. Unlike Gimp, which is a raster-based image manipulation program, Inkscape is a vector drawing program. While Gimp is intended for editing photos in the jpg, png or gif format and best suited to handling photorealistic images, Inkscape’s vector drawing is great for icons, logos and more cartoonish images.

Vector drawing programs are based on building, coloring and manipulation shapes. Raster programs like Gimp are pixel-based and this means that when you scale an image to a larger or smaller size, you run the risk of losing image fidelity. Programs like Inkscape and their expensive cousins (Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw) are the perfect tool when you want to create logos that might be presented in many different dimensions.

Most clip art that is not photography based is created using some sort of vector drawing program. Inkscape uses the Scalable Vector Graphic file extension (.svg) which is open standard and means that your graphics file will easily transfer to other programs and be usable.

Find this program at inkscape.org.

Is Open Source for Everyone?

Of course! It’s free! That’s the whole point. There are downsides to using these applications. While you can find hundreds of books on using Adobe’s Photoshop, you’ll only find a handful on Gimp and Inkscape.

Some people love to buy books to learn, but I say that’s actually a disadvantage because again you’re out another $30-$50 bucks per book.

There are plenty of video tutorials on You Tube that can teach you how to use the programs and become very competent. So the investment you make will be time, not money.

If you’re in need of a program that will help you create images for your website that are compelling, but can’t afford a copy of Adobe’s Photoshop – you’d be wise to take a look at these two amazing open source graphics programs.

Photoshop – Changing the Way We Make and See Images

Photoshop has become the standard of the industry when it comes to graphics and digital image editing. When we speak of power, versatility and innovation, very few programs can hold a candle to what Photoshop is capable of doing. Its commands and tools are so easy to learn that even beginners can use this program without the benefit of a formal class.

Photoshop (also known as Adobe Photoshop) was created by Adobe Systems and was intended at first for image editing for paper printing. It wasn’t too long before it was used to create and edit images to use for websites.

The best thing about Photoshop is not only the integrated tools and devices you can use to tweak images and create your own, but because of the flawless interaction of its commands and tools. Given one image, you can do virtually anything you want with the confidence that Photoshop tools will follow your command and produce an edited picture the way you want it to appear.

Export-ready

When it comes to exporting its images, Photoshop allows seamless program shifts among other Adobe software used in image editing, authoring and animation such as Adobe Illustrator, ImageReady and After Effects. Photoshop files (.PSD or Photoshop document format) may be manipulated to produce special effects such as adding textures and changing backgrounds. Non-linear editing is also a breeze.

Another advantage of Photoshop is that it can work with several color models such as RGB, CMYK, Lab, Bitmap, Duotone and Grayscale. This allows any user a lot of flexibility in terms of image editing, giving him the power to play with every type of photo image there is.

The newest version of Photoshop is v. 10, also known as CS3. It’s integrated with Adobe Creative Suite, hence the ‘CS’. The most popular, though is the CS2 which was made available in 2005. It has successfully integrated new tools and former plugins like color replacement, warping and multiple-layer select.

How it has changed the industry

When it comes to image post-production, Photoshop has given professionals and amateurs a magic wand with which to alter and improve images. Since the advent of digital photography in the 90s, Photoshop has been the standard with which photographers improve finished photo quality.

Photoshop is also changing the art scene, allowing artists to create original pieces or artwork using program tools. Photoshop artwork has appeared in books, comic books, architecture designs and more notably, in special-effect films.

Photoshop has become so popular that the word ‘photoshopping’ has already ingrained itself in our vocabulary. Photoshopping has actually made careers, fed media frenzy, made paparazzis happy and changed the way we see things, often literally. In pop culture, Photoshop in becomingly increasingly prevalent, appearing in almost every other photo for image-hungry consumers to devour. The irony is, Photoshop is so popular that images have to appear that they haven’t undergone tweaking in order to be declared as Photoshop-perfect.

Cracking the Photoshop Easter eggs

As with some of the most popular software, Photoshop comes with a few Easter eggs, hidden gems of humor and help tips that can be accessed with a few strokes of the keyboard. The first ones came with Photoshop v. 2.5 and subsequent Easter eggs have appeared with every version that came along. The latest Easter eggs are with the CS2 (the Adobe SpaceMonkey) and CS3 (the Adobe Red Pill).

Photoshop may be used by Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Mac OS X. Linux users can use Photoshop v. 9 and lower.

Be a Photoshop Pro, One Click at a Time

Photoshop is really on a rampage these days. From the average person to the corporate graphic design world, this application has been used widely and extensively. There are a lot of pictures being modified with cool Photoshop effects to create something spectacular that will keep the online world abuzz for days.

You can download and install the application to your computer, either by buying the full version or simply installing the trial version to get you started. There will be simple yet cool Photoshop effects you can start with such as devil eye modifications, bubble effect or creating water reflections. There will be entry-level visual effects you can add by playing around with the available tools within the application.

If you do not know where to start, there are available online tutorials that will help you manipulate the tools available to achieve cool Photoshop effects to your photos. You can browse them and follow their instructions on what options you need to click and adjust to achieve the effect on your photo. Most online tutorials will offer screenshots to guide you in the entire process. However, be careful with the version being used with the tutorials as they may be using older versions than the one you have.

The application is not only available for common folks but also to the professionals such as graphic artists, photojournalists and even web site designers. The professional world really entails a huge demand for more advanced Photoshop effects to create more graphically intensive scenes, backdrops or even texts on the design. Graphic design will be less difficult to materialize with the use of Photoshop. With the right tutorial to help you, you can put amazing and cool Photoshop effects to your design. One thing to note is that achieving these professional-level cool Photoshop effects on your design may entail more effort and time spent to perfect them.

Even if you are not a graphic or web designer, you can still follow these online guides to help you create eye-popping details to your photos. There are tutorials that will help you create impressive photo effects, abstract watercolor effects and fantasy photo manipulation with specific themes. Some online tutorials even offer steps on how to manipulate your photos to have movie-like effects.

Photoshop can be very daunting in terms of the available tools and options you can tinker within the application. Familiarizing yourself with the available options and tools will do wonder for you as it will make it easier for you to add cool Photoshop effects on your design. With great courage and online tutorials to help you, you can master this great application in no time.