Editing images without Photoshop
Free online tools to create custom designs on the go
If you don’t have the luxury of Photoshop or a designer chum to help you out, you may find yourself with the perfect image for your latest post but in the wrong shape or format! In a previous article Free images: Where to find them and how to use them, we looked at writing an image style guide for your site and listed some good sources for free images. Here we’ll have a peek at some great free sites where you can modify images to suit your site, tweak them to fit your style and crop them to fit perfectly in your social media shares. As usual, I’m not about to give you a humongous list to baffle you, I’ll just tell you about some that I use regularly when I’m on the move with no access to Photoshop.
Pixlr.com is a lot like Photoshop and is totally free for basic use of the web app. You can use it online, create an account (although, you’re not required to do so) or download the app to your phone or laptop. There’s a premium version which only costs $14.99 per year which gives you enhanced options, and more options for masks just like Photoshop, but the most basic, free version is already pretty versatile. With Editor you can “Work in layers, replace color, transform objects, and more all from your browser.” And the Express version you can “Apply a quick fix or add a personal touch with creative effects, overlays, and borders.” I use the editor version when I need to do a quick crop or colour adjustment and I’m not at my desk, but you can actually do loads with it. Check out the Made With PIXLR gallery. Some cool, creative stuff in there.
If you know Photoshop a bit, the tools will look familiar, but If you’re in a hurry to create an image for Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, try some of the template based sites.
Maybe you’ve already heard of Canva. It’s a really well-known site with lots of templates, for collages and social media. It’s really quick and easy to use and they have some lovely templates and effects. You just need to sign up, which is easily done with your Google or Facebook accounts.
There are thousands of templates available which are pre-formatted to the dimensions of all major social platforms. Once you create a design, you can download it as often as you like. One thing to look out for though. If you choose a ‘premium’ template without realising, you may have to pay a dollar or two. BUT!!! I noticed recently that the layout itself is free, just the image embedded is a paid option. So if you’ve spent time creating your graphic then you get asked to pay, simply change the image and you’ll be able to download and share for free. In saying that, if the image looks good, $1 isn’t too much to ask!
FotoJet is a little less well known than Canva, and is a little less sexy, but has many of the same features and just LOADS of templates to choose from.
Another thing I like is the choice of fonts. I’m a designer and I love typography. With FotoJet, you have access to a huge list of Google Fonts, aaaaaand you can choose to use the fonts that are installed on your computer. So if you have your preferred / brand fonts on your computer, you can choose to use those too! Thumbs up for the type fans! You can upload fonts to your Canva account too but on the paid version only.
Other geek treats in Fotojet… You have multiple undos (command + Z on Mac) and saving is easy peasey, no need to worry about quality options, just be sure to choose the right template from the start. Their magazine cover and comic book templates are really fun too. So yeah, it may be a bit less well known and a little less smooth than Canva, but personally, I prefer it.
Pablo by Buffer is the least versatile of the services listed here, but fewer options can sometimes be a blessing! Buffer is a Social Media scheduling service (which is really good by the way and I’ll be writing about it in future). The Buffer team created Pablo as a simple tool to add text to images for your social shares. You can choose from thousands of pre-loaded images (handy), pop in your title or quote, choose your social media platform, add a simple blur or colour effect to the background and BOOM, you’re done. As I said, it’s really simple, but perfect for really quick images with text, with a simple layout. You can create a post image for Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest in the space of 10 minutes. Sweet.
You WILL at some point need to modify an image for your site, or to accompany a post, tweet or pin. All these image formats are slightly different, and you almost certainly don’t have hours to waste. You don’t need to know anything about Photoshop to look great online, and with a bit of practice, you’ll get faster at making these images fit for your needs.
Try these sites out and pop a comment below to share your experience. Is there an hands-down winner? Or is there a site out there that does it all better? I’d love to hear from you.
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