7 Image Editing Tools to Create Awesome Visual Content

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07.11.2012By

Images are one of the best ways to tell your story, simply because they convey the emotional and unconscious elements of your story that words often can’t.

This is why people share photos the most on Facebook, and why Pinterest has blown up practically overnight.

The shift towards visual storytelling also means that you need the ability to quickly edit the photos you are sharing. You need the ability to do several things with an image:

  • – Cropping–There are various different optimum dimensions for photos on each social media site, requiring the ability to crop images on the fly.
  • Adding Text–A picture says 1,000 words, but adding text narrows the field.
  • Combining Images–Before/after pics, infographs.
  • Adjusting Contract and Tone–Many times the photos you take at event will need a little touching up.
  • Resizing Images–Hi-res images taken with a Cannon Powershot might be way too big for a Facebook Page update.
  • Creating Various File Types–Depending on the situation, you may need GIFs, JPGs or PNGs.

7 Image Editing Tools To Create Awesome Visual Content

Below are seven tools you can investigate for your image editing needs.

1. Instagram (mobile app)

Instagram is an iPhone/Android app that’s both a social network and a very cool photo editor. In terms of editing, the only thing you can do is square cropping and applying a variety of retro-style filters. Sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr is super easy. Recommended for arts organizations and perhaps museums.

2. Phoenix (web-based)

From basic image retouching to complex effects, Phoenix has a lot of the same basic features of a desktop image editor with the simplicity and accessibility of a web-based application.

3. Phixr (web-based)

Phixr is another free online photo editor that includes all the basic photo manipulation tools like cropping, rotating, removing red eye, and resizing. You can also add text and speech bubbles photos.

4. Google’s Creative Kit (web-based)

Google’s Creative Kit is an advanced photo editing tool within Picasa (shown below) and Google Plus. You can add text to photos, and even select from a variety of interesting filters like “face-painting.” In either platform select a photo and then choose “Edit Photo” to get started.

5. Pixlr (web-based)

This is the one I recommend the most to my clients. With Pixlr, you can crop, edit layers, lasso parts of an image, resize, add text, and save in a various different file types. It’s the closest thing to Photoshop that’s free and web-based.

6. Jing (desktop)

Jing is what I’ve used to create the screen grabs you see in this post. It also allows you to create screencasts (videos of your desktop), but I prefer ScreenFlow.

7. Photoshop Elements (desktop)

This is my go-to app for image editing. I like it better than any of the free web-based editors because it has many more features, allows me to easily save and reuse files, and doesn’t depend on the limited internet bandwidth at Starbucks.

Best Image File Types for the Web

The best file formats for the web are JPG, PNG and GIF.

GIF files are the smallest file size and will generally load faster than PNGs or JPGs.

PNGs on the other hand, are best for images that require a transparent background, for example the logo on your website. For Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, GIFs will work best.

One Last Thing

Don’t go crazy with your images. The last thing you need is get distracted by shiny new tools, and the last thing your fans need is too look at photos that look like an acid trip in Las Vegas. Keep it simple and sincere.

What’s your favorite tool for image editing?

  • Anonymous
  • http://twitter.com/nolandhoshino Noland Hoshino

    You forgot one of my favorites…u00a0nhttp://www.picmonkey.com/u00a0

    • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

      Great one!

  • Gemma

    Does anyone know which free image editor has the widest range of fonts, that equate closest to the fonts in Photoshop? We need to use specific fonts for writing text onto images to stay within our brand guidelines…

    • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

      Out of these 7 options, it would be pixlr

  • Cdansby

    We use Paint.net.u00a0 Free and open source, almost as powerful as Photoshop, yet not as difficult to use as The Gimp.u00a0 @Gemma – any desktop program (as opposed to web based) should allow you to use any font you have installed on your computer.

    • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

      Awesome. Thanks!

  • Meljay96

    Thank you for this most timely and sound advice. Acid trip in Vegas – wonderful!!

    • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

      You’re welcome!

  • http://www.adventhouse.com/ Jedi Webmaster

    I highly recommend GIMP (current version in 2.6). GIMP is freeware, distributed under the GNU license. It has a lot of advanced features found in programs like Photoshop, and doesn’t cost a nickle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1174345584 Johnny Dukovich

    I think PNG is the best format to use. It does not have the 256 color limitation of GIF, and does not have distortion that JPGs have.u00a0

    • http://johnhaydon.com John Haydon

      Agreed, but if the image is huge, GIFs will load faster

  • Costas Zividis

    Here is what i use to crop and resize. Simple and fastnnwww.image-resize.eunnnnSome effects also.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Beth-Kanter/504747699 Beth Kanter

    Great resource list. u00a0This isn’t exactly photo editing, but I love Snagit for screen captures which is important visual content. u00a0Snagit can also do some light photo editing. u00a0And for simplicity sake, I like this one:u00a0nhttp://www.resizeyourimage.com/

    • http://social.razoo.com/ Ifdy Perez

      I’ve used Snagit too and loved it!

  • Google Analytics

    Very nice tools. Teens and even adults will surely like that one. It emphasize your emotions and other necessary feelings that you convey in your picture.

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  • Emily Barnes

    Thank you for sharing these great tools! I will use them on my photos in the future!