Do-It-Yourself Graphics

  • November 15, 2010
  • Helen Murphy

As a communicator, I occasionally get thrown into the world of image editing. Normally, I try to leave it to the professionals but sometimes deadlines and budgets dictate otherwise.

Luckily, there are a number of free image editing programs out there for those of us who only dabble in editing or don’t have access to professional image editing software.

My favorite website for simple image edits is Picnik (grass and blanket included).  To use Picnik, visit and upload your photo.  You don’t even have to create a login.  Once there, you can easily resize, crop, sharpen, and change hue, color and transparency, amongst other things.  The interface is intuitive and will take even the most technology-challenged only a couple of minutes to figure out.

If you have a project that is a little more complex I highly recommend downloading Gimp (  This free photo editing program is reminiscent of Adobe Photoshop and has a wide array of tools that allow everything from image retouching to image creation.  Gimp has a bit of a learning curve, especially if you haven’t used a professional design program before, but once you know how to use it, it is a powerful tool.

The final program I want to mention is Aviary Phoenix (  I’ve never used Aviary Phoenix, but the program was voted as the best online image editor by the readers of Lifehacker.  Like, Gimp, Aviary Phoenix allows users to create images, edit images and even create basic animation.  The website boasts a number of tutorials that show step-by-step instructions on all sorts of great photo editing techniques.

There are quite a few free image editing tools out there.  Picnik and Gimp are my favorites.  What are yours?

The Piknic interface is simple and easy-to-use

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