Image editing used to be something that required a dark room, expensive chemicals, and scissors. Later all that was replaced by expensive apps, but it is now 2019 and a lot of image editing can be done with free online tools (or free offline tools like GIMP). Over the past week a couple different tools came up in discussions with clients, and it gave me an idea: Why not pull together a list of free tools?
My goal for this post was to collect a bunch of sites that each did one thing really well, but most of the sites I found are more general purpose image, photo, or graphics editors. I wanted sites that for example could remove the background and only that, but instead most of what I found were Photoshop replacements. It’s a good list so far, and I plan to add more tools as time goes by. I will not, however, add sites like Visme or PicMonkey because they are not free as well, or sites like Pixelr (which for some ungodly reason is built in Flash). For now, let’s start with the single-purpose tools.
There are many online tools that can change the size of your image, but PicResize is the one I keep going back to whenever I need to reduce the resolution of the 10MP product photo I just downloaded from Amazon. This is a cropping and resizing tool that can also apply a few basic filters, and what keeps me coming back is that it works very fast and has a simple interface.
Ever wonder what details were lurking in the metadata of that photo you took with your phone? This is the site you can use to find out. It will list all of the EXIF data for your photo, including any GPS coordinates, and it will also let you delete the data and then download the image again.
Speaking of removing things, how would you like to remove an image’s background? I’ve only used it a few times, but this site has proven to be a great way to isolate one element of a photo so you can use it elsewhere. It can remove all or part of an image, leaving the remainder transparent. It will automatically delete what it thinks is the background, but if it’s wrong you can either add or remove more of the original image.
Every so often I am handed a design as a PSD, EPS, or AI file rather than as an image that I can readily use online. This is not a problem because I know there are sites like PSD Viewer that will let me extract the contents of those files and convert them to a more usable format. Also, I just found a couple photo editors that work with professional file formats while working on this post, so I will probably end up using one.
As you may know, there are four ways to specify a color in an image. This site will automatically convert a color from one of the four color systems to the other 3. This tool really comes in handy when one of your tools uses one color system and another tool uses another color system.
This site can convert an image from the CMYK colorspace to RGB. (The former is used for printing, while the later is used for digital images.) Sometimes graphic designer send you an image coded in CMYK when in fact you need RGB, and this site can fix that.
This site lets you create a mockup by putting your ebook cover image on a tablet, smartphone, or ereader screen. You can also create a 3D-ish print book cover, as well as any combination of the 3 device screens. Bonus tip: If you download the new cover image as a transparent PNG, you can use it in another graphic!
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Canva is my preferred tool for making blog graphics, print ads, etc. It has dozens of predefined sizes and thousands of pre-made templates that you can modify or use as inspiration for your design. It’s not as good as it used to be (the selection of free images has been reduced significantly) but the developers did recently update the site with a new code base that gives you more granular control over tiny details like font sizes.
This is a collage maker. If you want to combine a bunch of different images into one collage to be displayed online then this is the tool for you. You can crop the images, or add filters, before adding them to the collage. PhotoVisi can also make Twitter and Facebook graphics.
Figma is new to me, but it would seem to be a tool similar to Canva. Where they differ is that while Canva’s projects are focused on making a Twitter graphic, or a flyer, or a single infographic, Figma is about designing a style guide. Basically Canva is what an artist might use, while Figma is what the artist’s boss might use (I think ?).
Remember how I said I had trouble with PSD files? That was before I found Photopea. This is an online tool that honestly looks like it is intended to be an online clone of Photoshop. Its interface looks very much like what I would expect from a PC-based app like Photoshop while still being very easy to use and completely online.
Fotor is a new one for me, but I am told that it is both an online photo editor and collage maker as well as a proper desktop application for photo editing with RAW conversion support. There are, multiple versions of Fotor. You could opt for one of the online versions, or choose to download a copy of the desktop version and install on your computer for offline photo editing. This tool is more image than graphics focused.
Pizap is a photo editor and a collage maker, but what caught my eye was its emoji maker. If you’re as bored with the usual emojis as I am, here’s your chance to make your own.
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Do you know of a great tool to add to this list? Do you have a specific requirement that these sites don’t meet? Let me know in the comments!