Take me past the powers of paint!
January 27, 2011 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Free or very low cost image editing software?

I have a new desktop (HP Windows 7) after many years (we have been surviving with new laptops/netbooks etc...) and would once again like to be able to edit images/photos. I used to use Adobe PhotoShop CS but our software is as old as the computer and new Adobe is quite expensive for my infrequent use.

I need something that would let me add transparency, edit pixels, change backgrounds etc... not just correct for colour, red eye and crop like picassa for example. No 3D rendering or anything that powerful needed. Out of desperation I used Paint yesterday to edit some clip art. That was frustrating!

I looked at the previous questions but they seemed to be from 2005 or 2007 which is too old to be relevant.

I turn to you to suggest any free image editing software that you might know of. Thanks!
posted by saradarlin to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:13 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bring out the gimp!
posted by mr_roboto at 1:14 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a number of free flash based options (search for "online photo editing"), some of which may be suitable for you. I've used Splashup in the past with some luck.

Otherwise as Salvor Hardin suggested GIMP is your best bet.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:15 PM on January 27, 2011

in addition to the gimp, paint.NET is a good free option.
posted by phil at 1:15 PM on January 27, 2011

posted by mkultra at 1:17 PM on January 27, 2011

(GIMP is not supported on Windows 7, I believe?)
posted by mkultra at 1:17 PM on January 27, 2011

Nthing Paint.NET. Very easy to use and has enough features to get most of the stuff done that I would use Photoshop for.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:19 PM on January 27, 2011

Another vote for Paint.NET. Awesome program. GIMP would work too, but I find it's overkill for the small things I need to do (which is very similar to your list)
posted by cgg at 1:25 PM on January 27, 2011

I use GIMP all the time on Windows 7. No problems.
posted by rhizome at 1:25 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can't go wrong with either Paint.net or Gimp but you might find the UI of Paint.net to be more like what you're used to than Gimp. The UI and possibly 16-bit image support are two of the things that provoke the most complaints about Gimp.

Both are extensible, with active add-on communities so you're likely to find a plugin that does what you want (if the base program doesn't already).
posted by tommasz at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2011

Great suggestions so far, another I'd add just for its simplicity and speed is Photofiltre. I switch between that and paint.net often to finish any image projects I have.
posted by samsara at 1:55 PM on January 27, 2011

Yeah, GIMP is kind of overkill for what you're looking for, not to mention a bit of a mess, UI-wise. I use Paint.NET for the kind of stuff you want and love it -- it's simple, intuitive, and free.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:57 PM on January 27, 2011

Aviary.com was developed by Worth1000.com a Photoshop community- I've used it some, might be overkill.
posted by dadici at 2:20 PM on January 27, 2011

If five options aren't enough, here's a wiki comparison of raster graphics editors, broken down into proprietary, freeware, and F/OSS; OS support; features; color spaces; and file support.

If you like Photoshop's layout, there are (slightly dated) GIMP modifications: GimPhoto and GIMPshop. GIMP is at v2.6, GimPhoto is based on v2.4.3, and GIMPshop is "on hold," stuck at v2.2.11.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:23 PM on January 27, 2011

... but I'm not sure how the GIMP versions play with Win7.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:25 PM on January 27, 2011

Paint.net is good, although I prefer the online Pixlr. Pixlr's performance is generally better, believe it or not.

I find the Gimp to be incredibly frustrating.
posted by The Lamplighter at 4:43 PM on January 27, 2011

if you have a pen tablet, i can't recommend artrage enough...it works with a mouse, but pressure sensitivity is what makes it badass...there's a free version you can try with paid versions running from 20-80 bucks...it's more of a painting program, so photo editing features are only on the paid versions (layer support, file importing,etc)...but its interface is super-simple and intuitive...very easy to learn...check out the free version...
posted by sexyrobot at 5:32 PM on January 27, 2011

No pen tablet. I am downloading Paint.net and GIMP right now. Fingers crossed.
posted by saradarlin at 8:54 PM on January 27, 2011

What About Photoshop Elements? 85% of the full Photoshop for around $80. Nothing else gets close, IMO.
posted by dbiedny at 10:31 PM on January 27, 2011

There is also Gimpshop, which is a version of The Gimp that has been modified to look and feel more like photoshop.
posted by nalyd at 4:39 AM on January 28, 2011

I have now used both Paint.NET and GIMP. For this project Paint.NET was exactly what I needed. Thanks!!
posted by saradarlin at 9:36 PM on January 30, 2011

Also I can say that both programs work perfectly with Windows 7 should anyone come across this at a later point.
posted by saradarlin at 9:38 PM on January 30, 2011

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