A huge part of web design is not only choosing the right images but also editing them and optimising them for the web. There are so many different software applications, both free and paid, that claim to offer the best features and usability for your need for graphics and image manipulation for the web. Here are three of the best, and you can have them all for free!
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You Need the Hardware
Graphic design and image manipulation can be a frustrating process if you don’t have a computer that is capable of working with the high-resolution images that have become standard. Before you look at software and image tools, you should spend a bit of time making sure that your computer is up to standard. Usually, for graphics work, this means checking your system has enough memory and a capable GPU, like Intel’s new Arc Graphics. It can make all the difference to your life as a web designer, and you can click here to read more about it.
There’s no denying that Adobe Photoshop has set the gold standard when it comes to image manipulation, but it comes at a pretty high cost. If you’re looking for something to use occasionally for some basic image work, then GIMP (or GNU Image Manipulation Tool) is worth a try. It offers many of the features of Photoshop, but without you having to fork over a single penny. It’s open-source software too, so there are different versions of it too, including GIMPShop, which has been designed to resemble Photoshop’s menu system and toolbars as much as possible. It’s great if you know your way around Adobe Photoshop, but don’t want to pay its price tag.
If we were to offer any single piece of software as the Swiss Army knife of web design, then it would undoubtedly be Lunacy. It’s almost hard to describe what this multi-faceted design tool offers, but at its core, it’s a vector graphics application for the design of user interfaces and it feels perfectly at home on the web too. It’s full of useful tools like an image upscaler and background remover, but it shines by including a heap of graphics right inside the application.
Pexels is an image search engine with one important difference – it’s designed to find CC0 (creative commons zero) images. If you need a stock image or a visual for your visual design project, it’s worth paying a visit to Pexels to search for something suitable, since almost all the images you find through the service are free to use for commercial and non-commercial use. Many don’t require attribution like other free image services. Alternatives to Pexels that are also worth a visit are Pixabay and Unsplash because both also offer free a catalogue of free-to-use images.
These three applications work together to form the perfect bouquet of image tools. Try them out today and you’ll soon see the difference they’ll make to your image and design workflows without changing the cost of your software at all.