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photoshop alternatives

PR Toolbox: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop

With the ongoing debates about content marketing that’s preoccupying the marketing and tech communities, not to mention last week's PR Couture interview with digital content/copy writer and web editor Hannah Rand, I've been thinking a lot about visual content.

Visual content is playing an increasingly important role in brand communication and it's more important than ever to develop eye-catching images for use on everything from Tumblr to Pinterest. One of the ways that PR professionals can diversify their skill-set and quickly turn around content for the web is with graphic design basics and photo-editing. However, not every publicist can afford the high-price of much of the leading image-editing software, like Photoshop. And even if you are lucky to have the current Adobe Creative Suite, the desktop versions of these programs are on their way out and will now require a monthly fee (more on that in a bit). Much of the editing that publicist's do on behalf of their clients is pretty basic stuff, however, so we put together a few Adobe alternatives.

GIMP

Seemingly the crowd pleaser of Photoshop alternatives within the creative world, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) offers a variety of tools at no cost. All of the tools you love about Photoshop: paint tools, color correction, cloning, digital retouching, and photo enhancement for FREE! GIMP also offers a great “fullscreen mode” that not only gives you a realistic preview of your creation, but also allows you to make edits at this expanded, zoomed-out view.

Why it might be right for you? The GIMP team of developers values compatibility; you’ll have no problems working between a variety of popular file formats, made even easier by GIMP’s built-in file manager that functions similarly to Adobe’s Bridge. With a large community of users and super helpful tutorials on the GIMP site, you’ll feel right at home in no time. Still unwilling to part with Photoshop? GIMP now offers a version of its services that mimics Adobe’s look and feel. Plus, did we mention that it’s FREE??!

Things to keep in mind: There's no CMYK support in GIMP because it's not intended for print use. What does that mean? CMYK color model (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black mode) is the standard for print items - postcards, table tents, etc. You can use RGB with most printers however, but just know you might have some issues with color matching. Critics of GIMP have mentioned that issues with color correction and calibration...We say give it a test; let us know how it goes!

Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux

Pixlr

The biggest benefit of Pixlr can be summed up on one word: accessibility. This great web-based app image editor is mobile-compatible and allows you to make anything from small changes on near-perfect graphics to extreme makeovers for those poorly lit event photos. As Tim Gunn would say, when it comes to creating impressive and visually appealing digital images for your brand, you can “make it work” from just about anywhere. All you need is your smartphone, cell service, and the Pixlr app.

Why it might be right for you? If you are looking for an easy-to-use, explanatory service with great image results, but are not interested in devoting a lot of time to learning a new tool, Pixlr’s clean and simple interface is the way to go. This app is the ultimate clean, mean, digital image-retouching machine: edit multiple images in full screen mode and use keyboard shortcuts similar to Photoshop’s for quick and easy changes. 100% free with no registration needed; simply download the app and get get it done.

Things to keep in mind: While Pixlr might have all the solutions to your editing needs, its weaker than its competition when it comes to import/export options. With limited upload capabilities, images have to be saved to a user’s hard drive before they can be uploaded, so you need to take a few extra steps before being able to share those images. 

Available for iOS or Android

FlauntR

It’s all in the name. FlauntR is a free online photo editing program that offers one of the more comprehensive lists of editing and styling tools, not to mention unique embellishments (most of which we recommend staying far away from!) and text options. Another big benefit is FlauntR's social integration and  instant export to mobile. It’s also available as an application on Facebook! (can we “Facebook like” that?)

Why it might be right for you? What’s most unique about FlauntR is its online photo printing service. With one-step batch uploads, prints, posters, wall decals, greeting cards, etc. can be ordered directly from the program. Goodbye long lines at Kinko’s, hello flexibility and freedom with FlauntR.

Things to Consider: Some reviewers have had complaints with the FlauntR interface, but such specs often come down to personal preference. Finding what works for you and your brand is what’s most important.

Available for Mac and Windows

Cloud Nine with the New Adobe Cloud?

Just launched this month, meet Adobe’s newest contribution to the creative world: The Creative Cloud. This revamped version of its ever-popular Creative Suite means the end of desktop versions of CS. As you might imagine, people are freaking out.

Why it might be right for you?  If you’ve been following our posts, you should know by now that we are ALL about community engagement and relationship-building! The Creative Cloud, which will be powered by Behance, recently acquired by Adobe, functions as an online community or social network. Publish your artistry, and get feedback from your brand’s community or trusted experts within the industry.

Things to Keep in Mind: At $49.99 per month as part of an annual plan, it's important to make sure that the cost is justified.

Available for Mac and Windows

Finally, if you are looking to improve your proficiency in Photoshop, Illustrator, or gain a better understanding of Typography, the PR Couture team are big fans of Nicole's Classes.

For more information about how Tribe Dynamics can help PR professionals manage and monitor media outreach, visit this exclusive offer for PR Couture readers.

Photo Credit: Sanctuary photography

About the author: Christina Goswiller


LA native Christina Goswiller traded palm trees for the Stanford tree, where she studied political science and graduated with honors in 2012. Since her move to San Francisco, she has fallen in love with the entrepreneurial spirit of the startup world. Christina is particularly interested in the growing importance of technology within the fashion industry, which she follow through her work with Tribe Dynamics.

2 Comments

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the alternatives. I’m learning Photoshop now and learned of a few others including Picasa (Google) and Sumopaint. Give those a try.

  • Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Awesome feedback! I’d heard of Picasa before, but not Sumopaint. We’ll have to give it a try here at Tribe :)

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.