Long gone are the days of websites offering block after block of long-winded text with a small introductory thumbnail image sitting on top.
Things have moved on…and the internet is now fully dynamic!
I don’t know about you, but I constantly drift when I’m confronted with online content that reads like a sea of text.
When you are building out your website you are aiming to keep visitors there as long as possible – offering dour webpages will not help you one bit.
It’s all about breaking up the sea of text these days – giving the audience’s eyes a well earned rest at strategic points throughout your articles.
And how is this done???
Simple – images!
But most free stock images online have been used over and over again – take Pixabay for instance…every image used at least a couple of thousand times…
You need to stand out slightly with these images – take ’em and put your own witty and personal touch on them…and for that…you need a decent photo editor!
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Adobe Photoshop is Expensive…
Here’s where all the geeks jump in and sing the praises of Adobe Photoshop…but Adobe Photoshop is expensive and most of us can’t afford that luxury.
So what are the alternatives?
Well you can download a cracked version from a torrent site but they are frequently unstable and don’t last more than a couple of months (I’ve gone through plenty of these!).
Your best bet is to try out one of the following free alternatives to Photoshop (you won’t be disappointed!)…
I thought I’d start off with my favorite alternative to Photoshop – GIMP. This program is basically a free version of Photoshop that offers just about everything the Adobe giant does.
If you’ve used the older versions of Photoshop you will recognize the GIMP layout instantly…and you’ll be comfortable with it!
From basic cropping and resizing to correcting barrel distortion, Gimp is an all-encompassing piece of software that is extremely powerful.
The only drawback Photoshop users will find with GIMP is the sluggishness of the program overall – it does everything Photoshop does…but it does not do it with style!
I also hear new users complaining about the floating window system that GIMP uses – it can get pretty chaotic at times and you will need to get used to it’s workflow.
Overall though this is an awesome option that is out there for FREE – once you become familiar with the layout and the options you’ll be flying along in no time.
There a thousands of video tutorials available online to show you how to get started, create outstanding effects and correct photo images etc. (try YouTube – there are some excellent independent tutorials uploaded there!).
Download GIMP from the official site HERE
For some reason I was sort of ‘late to the show’ with Canva and I’ve only started using it properly over the last year or so. I’m VERY impressed by it.
I should point out that it’s not exclusively a photo editor… and it was never really meant to be…but the features do allow you to jazz up your images in a rather unique way!
I’d say it’s a cross between image manipulation and graphic design – and it’s incredibly easy to use!
Photoshop users will know that creating a simple design within the program can be incredibly time consuming and fussy. Sometimes you just want a simple design or image manipulation for your blog on the fly!
You have to be extremely proficient at Photoshop – whilst Canva is a simple drag and drop system.
Now, ‘drag and drop’ makes the tool sound like a kiddies toy but I can assure this is not the case. Just check out a couple of quick examples I hammered up for you below…
Okay they’re not the most imaginative of examples but they only took me 2 minutes to knock up! Here’s another one…
As you can see the results are very impressive – and they took no time at all to setup and download!
Whilst I have used Canva on many occasions with photos, I think it’s real power lies in the hands of bloggers – it can turn a dour and familiar blog into something quite dynamic with ease.
Just point the mouse, click, drag and drop – a wonderfully simple tool which is extremely powerful.
Check out Canva for yourself HERE
PhotoScape is a pretty cool option as it doesn’t only concentrate on photo/image manipulation. When I first used it I was surprised to find that it lets you create slideshows and animated GIFs, allows you to combine and split images and offers a screen capturing tool.
The main ‘driving point’ of the PhotoScape system is the workflow toolbar they offer which can be fully customized by the user.
After you spend a little time finding your way around the system you can then choose what features you want in your toolbar – what options you find yourself using most frequently.
I found this pretty handy and it helped me create my own dynamic workflow with little effort on my part.
The only downside to this option is the adverts – yes, the adverts!
It’s a totally free download but it is part of something called the Open Candy Network…which likes to display adverts.
These are completely malware-free but if you’re anything like me…they will start to bug you with ‘recommended software’ etc.
Download PhotoScape HERE
If you’re looking for a completely scaled down…well almost naked…version of Photoshop then Paint.NET could be right up your street.
It’s a completely lightweight program that loads up super-quick and offers just the fundamental features of a photo editor like layers and plugins.
When I first used the program I could not get over the similarities it has with the old Microsoft Paint – jazzed up a bit of course!
But don’t let it’s simplicity put you off – I’ve used Paint.NET on many an occasion and the results have always been top quality.
Unfortunately Paint.NET is only available on Windows systems so this is not a choice for you Mac (or Linux) users.
A great little photo editor without all the bloating functions of Photoshop – check it out HERE
Another pretty lightweight Photoshop alternative here that manages to pack a pretty hard punch – don’t be put off by it’s rather ‘fluffy’ yet intuitive interface.
At first I thought this was nothing more than a gimmick – something for creating collages or slideshows idiots would then post on Facebook…
But I was wrong!
It really is an excellent image enhancing program that is a great place for newbies to get started at – it’s basically a drag and drop then edit system right from it’s own homepage.
It really doesn’t take that long to get through all the features PicMonkey has to offer so you can be an up-and-running expert within a couple of hours really.
It’s completely free but they do have a premium version on offer which delivers slightly more professional parameters. Check out both versions HERE
I thought it was only fair that I include a Mac-based program on this list because we covered Paint.NET earlier on in the article (which is only Windows based).
Acorn is a fast moving image editor app for Mac systems that manages to produce quite outstanding results.
It offers tools such as:
- Instant Alpha
- PSD Photoshop Format Import and Exporting
- Custom Brushes
- Works Directly With RAW Files
- And Much, Much More…
The thing I like about Acorn is the fact that it is pretty illusive – you don’t really realize how powerful it is until you dive down into the mass of tutorials it has floating about online.
If you own a Mac and Photoshop is too expensive for you – this is DEFINITELY worth a try!
Lightweight, good looking and intuitive – find out more about Acorn HERE
Photoshop Too Expensive?
Photoshop is pretty awesome – there’s no getting away from that really! Although the options covered here are excellent (especially GIMP) Photoshop will always have the edge on professional quality.
But it comes with a price tag…a price tag most of us don’t like!
Check out each of the options above and I PROMISE you’ll find something that more than fits your needs…