Product Photography in-depth Guide Nine

Editing and post-production – Step Three

Top Free Image Editing Software

Image editing software is the term used for computer programmes that allow you to make changes to photographs after they’ve been taken. Common edits include adjusting the lighting (known as levels), changing the colours in an image (known as colour balance) or changing the borders of an image (known as cropping). Image editing software can also do much more complex tasks such as airbrushing or image clipping.

Here at ClipItQuick.com we use Adobe Photoshop which is widely regarded as the industry standard for the best quality image editing. However, it is quite expensive and there are a number of free alternatives (typically with less features) that might be perfectly suited to your needs if you don’t intend to do complex image manipulation.

GIMP

Download link for gimp

Gimp’s eye-catching name actually stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program (for those of you wondering what GNU stands for, it’s an unusual type of operating system named after a wildebeest). Slightly unusual names aside, Gimp is probably the most powerful free image editing software you can get. It’s been going for many years and is extremely well supported with and lots of helpful online resources to help you learn it’s use.

Image Editing Software, Gimp 2.8.2 on a Mac
Gimp is probably the most similar to the industry standard Adobe Photoshop in terms of features. Although, if you’re an advanced Photoshop user it can take a while to get used to the differences as it is at the same time familiar but slightly different. Also if you’re a complete image editing novice you may find the number of features slightly overwhelming and confusing, as such some of the simpler packages listed on this page might be for you.

paint.net

Download link for paint.net

Paint.NET has less image editing tools than Photoshop or Gimp, but if you’re just starting out that could be a big bonus as it is far less confusing. It also has the option of adding layers which is a very helpful tool for applying edits to just a section of your image. For example if you wanted to lighten a product but keep everything else the same.

Image Editing Software, Paint.NET on a PC
The stripped back tools are complimented nicely by the clear and easy-to-use interface meaning it is a very easy software package to learn for basic editing. The design should be familiar to users of Microsoft Windows products, indeed Paint.NET is only available on Windows so if you’re a Mac User this isn’t for you.

They’ve put a lot of effort into making the software not too process heavy, which can be an issue for ‘industry’ tools such as Photoshop. This means if you’ve an older computer or a less high-powered machine it should still run. If you’re not too confident, or you’ve only got some simple changes that need making Paint.NET could be a good place to start.

PixBuilder Studio

Download link for PixBuilder Studio

PixBuilder Studio sits somewhere between Paint.NET and Gimp in terms of complexity and range of tools. It allows you to crop and rotate as per simpler software packages but also has clone stamp and healing brush for more in depth editing. The most useful tools for product photography will be the levels and colour balance tools that allow you to adjust the lighting and colours of an image to make sure your product images reflect the true real life colours of a product.

Image Editing Software, PixBuilder Studio on a PC
PixBuilder Studio also has layers functionality which are very helpful when you get into more involved image editing. Unfortunately for Mac users PixBuilder Studio is only available on PC presently, and that doesn’t look likely to change.

IrfanView

Download link for IrfanView

IrfanView is mainly for opening images instead of editing them and as such it is great if you’ve a lot of different image file types. However, it also has some options for editing images that you might find useful such as colour depth, red-eye removal, rotating and cropping.

Image Editing Software, IrfanView on a PC
Their website may look quite old but the software is still being updated regularly so don’t let that put you off. It also has a huge number of Plug-ins that allow you to customise the software for very specific and niche tasks. Definitely worth investigating if you’ve got some exotic file types that you’re struggling to open and edit. It’s also a very small package that takes up hardly any room on your computer – unlike Adobe Photoshop which is huge and very process hungry.