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Photo editing – for free

Playing with images: Both Adobe and open-source alternatives now offer free facilities that you can use to create fancy and high-quality images. Gagandeep Singh Sapra reports.

business Updated: May 20, 2013 23:29 IST
Gagandeep Singh Sapra
Gagandeep Singh Sapra
Hindustan Times

The joke goes that you don’t need to go to the gym to get a six-pack abdomen to impress people. All you have to do is to “Photoshop” your picture. Adobe’s famous software that helps manipulate photos is now a verb.

So what happens if you want to get access to tools such as Photoshop and use them to edit pictures, fix the contrast or the exposure of a shot you took on a holiday, change it to black and white or add other effects? The good news is that you can now do it for free. Apart from basic Photoshop features that are available free, there are also other free open-source applications. We guide you on the options.

Photoshop [Free]
Last year, Adobe made free. Go to, where you can access the Online Tools section, where you use the Photoshop Express for free. You can use features such as Crop & Rotate, Resize, Exposure, Red Eye, Dodge, Sharpen etc. There are also special effects and a decoration menu that lets you put things from text. Or you can add bubbles or other objects on your photograph.

Of course, this is not full-feature Photoshop, but then you are also not paying for it.

If you want more features, Adobe now offers Creative Cloud, you can subscribe to it by going to and sign up for a free account for 30 days, where you get all the Adobe software tools for free. For 30 days, you can either choose to use one software tool by paying R1000 per month, or use all the software that Adobe has to offer at R2,700 per month. That is a great deal when you consider how much the old Photoshop cost to buy.

Gimp []
Gimp is the nearest to Photoshop when we come to open-source software and has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. In it’s current 2.8.4 version it is also available for both Mac and Windows. You can download it, install it and you are ready to go.

Gimp gives you all the great tools that has and a whole lot more. It also offers a whole set of plug-ins that you can find by doing a Web search, from plug-ins such as Liquid Resize that help you resize the image intelligently.

Photoeffects is another very attractive plug-in that works with Gimp. It adds photo touch-up capabilities of the kind Instagram does on the mobile phone.

Gimp can also work with tablets such as those from Wacom that allow you to draw or simulate a brush to draw on the screen. allows you all this only in the paid version.

In case Gimp does not suit your fancy, and Photoshop just seems to elaborate, there is a third tool which is quick on its heels and just gets things done.

Pixlr []
Head on to the website, select the version of Pixlr you like to work with. They have an advanced version that has all the fancy tools, an efficient version that has similar tools if you work off a tablet, and a playful version that is an exact copy of their mobile application available for the iOS and Android platforms. The tools help you get things done, though they may not get you to award-winning standards.

If you are serious about your digital editing, and are currently using a pirated software, we urge you to give those tools the go-by and give the free ones a try. You will find that the free tools can do most of your work, and if you still need the full utility set, the per month payment from Adobe really allows you to do that easily now.

First Published: May 20, 2013 23:26 IST