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The 2012 Best FREE Image Editing Software

Updated on May 15, 2012

Software Freebies

Are you an amateur photographer looking for ways to save money on editing software, such as the incredibly expensive Adobe Photoshop? Or are you someone who enjoys being creative by making your own greetings cards, vector images, and other such technical stuff?
For many of us, forking out hundreds (even thousands!) of dollars on editing software - many of which require your to purchase annual updates, just isn't an option.
So here I'm going to point you in the right direction of FREE (yep, completely free!) programs which offer almost all of the same features as their more expensive peers.

  • Gimp ~ Reviewed on various different photography and tech sites as being the next best thing to Photoshop.
    Gimp is entirely free to download and free to use - no limited trial period whatsoever. A little bit daunting at first, it will take some practice to get used to the multitude of features available, but it's definitely worth the time taken to learn. If you are completely new to this kind of digital editing software, then reading the tutorial is a definite must.
    Functions are, (but are not limited to): Customizable interface, photo enhancement, digital re-touching, and hardware support.
  • IrfanView ~ A very basic, easy to use editing program that allows you to re-size images, convert to grey scale, create panoramic images, sharpen, add borders/frames, rotate, and red eye reduction. With the correct plug-in (easy to find on Google), IrfanView also supports RAW files. IrfanView isn't a large file to download, and allows you to drag and drop images directly onto the 'red splat' desktop shortcut icon, for speedy editing.
    Probably one of my favorite programs to do quick, easy re-sizing.
  • NeatImage (Free-standing demo mode) ~ Now this program is a gem. While the demo mode apparently has some of its functions disabled, I have used it to clean up some of the grain in my night photos, and I can quite honestly say I am extremely impressed. In fact, I am yet to come across any other free software that works as well as NeatImage. I go as far as to say that it wipes the board with my paid edition of Corel Paint Shop Pro, when it comes to getting rid of grain, noise, and areas of pixelation.
    NeatImage Demo edition does only save in the "lossy" .jpg format, however, unless you are planning on printing your images out at 100% resolution, and want perfectly clear, crisp images, then this program is definitely worth trying.
  • FotoSketcher ~ I love this program! It isn't an editor, but it allows you to create some pretty dramatic effects with your photographs. My personal favorites are the watercolor and oil paint options, but you can turn your photographs into cartoons, pencil/pen sketches, vintage, and many more. Free to use, although there is an option for you to "make a donation" to the program creator, which, in my opinion, is worth it.
  • PicMonkey ~ Another of my favorites, this is an online program (no download required) which has the basic image editing functions, such as saturation adjuster, crop, rotate, etc.
    It also has some fantastic image effects to choose from - black & white, sepia, orton, daguerreotype, and many more. You can even upload and customize some of your own.
    The only downside to PicMonkey is that it doesn't allow you to save your final editing at a high resolution. If you start out with say, a 4000x3500 pixel photo, when you're finished, it will save it at a maximum of around 3000x2500 pixels. Still, it's definitely worth using!
  • Pixlr ~ Another online photo enhancement program that doesn't require a download. This one offers various effects, including, frames, edges/borders, colorization, blurs, etc.
    Not a bad program at all, although if you suffer from motion sickness, I strongly advise you don't stare at the digital 'processing chemicals'! When you choose a feature, for a moment, the screen blurs as though you're looking into a tray of photo developing chemicals.. very nauseating!

So there you have it, some great free programs for you to try out. I have not listed them in any particular order, although Gimp is at the top simply because of its rave reviews from photographers and artists alike.
Hope you find this list useful!


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