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How to edit photos professionally for free

beautiful woman portrait
(© Fresh Stock – stock.adobe.com)

Many people believe that it is impossible to edit photos professionally for free if you’re a beginner. This isn’t surprising at all as the price for Photoshop subscription is $20.99 while photo editing services charge $5 per shot. However, in order to achieve a perfect photo, there is no need to invest in high-priced software or approach photo editing experts.

Instead, take advantage of the free online photo editing software that I have listed below. Even if you are still an amateur, it won’t be an issue to figure out how these tools work and edit a picture professionally in a couple of clicks.

1. Online Photoshop Editor

Online Photoshop Editor is a multi-functional online tool for editing pictures, designing, applying effects, filters, adding text, cropping or resizing images.

It can work with layers, masks, smart objects, text layers, etc. Also, it is possible to perform in-depth portrait retouching and color correction.

This tool is open-source and supports PSD, Sketch and XCF files (Photoshop, Sketch App, GIMP). Registration isn’t required – simply go to the main page, click “New Project” and start creating immediately. Besides, it is available in all browsers.

It offers standard image editing tools in a neat column at the edge of the workspace with icons similar to Photoshop.

Unlike other online picture post-processing platforms, the site doesn’t falter. For a web application, the whole process is surprisingly smooth and fast. Online Photoshop Editor will help you comply with the main picture editing requirements.

If you don’t want to spend time learning how to edit photos to look professional, delegate this task to experts from the FixThePhoto website. Their picture editing services are quite affordable. Besides, this site offers photo editing freebies that give you the opportunity to transform the pictures in one click and achieve impressive results even with no experience.

2. Paint.NET

Paint.NET is a digital picture editing software that was initially developed as a free replacement for the Microsoft Paint software that comes with Windows. A decent toolset, layer support, and such settings as curves and brightness/contrast make Paint.NET an excellent choice for photo enhancement.

The program boasts a clear and straightforward interface along with the support for hotkeys functions. One of the most prominent features of Paint.NET is the use of a tabbed document interface. In other words, you can work with several documents or panels in a single window and use tabs to switch between them.

To simplify the task, Paint.NET displays a small thumbnail image of each tab instead of a text description.

Besides, the Paint.NET developers put a lot of effort into making their software work quickly and efficiently. Even if your device isn’t very robust, you can run Paint.NET just as seamlessly. It is updated automatically and always contains new features, improvements, as well as bug fixes.

The main advantage among competitors is the ease of use. Non-experienced users, who are wondering how to edit photos for free, will immediately get professional results with this program.

The support for plugins developed and shared by the user community is another benefit of Paint.NET. Such plugins, for instance, a well-known 3D rotate/zoom tool for image recomposition, are intended for more proficient users.

3. Fotor

Fotor is a free picture editor for making quick enhancements. It offers 13 diverse one-tap scenes, like artificial lighting, sunset, portrait, landscape and theater, for those who wish to transform their pictures. An HDR effect is present as well.

The majority of well-known picture formats are supported by Fotor. RAW file processing is also possible even though it is a rare function for free picture post-production software. Another prominent feature of Fotor is a batch processing tool, which is often absent in similar free picture editors.

The program’s toolset is pretty extensive – starting from the simple tweaking of saturation and brightness to face retouching manipulations, like teeth whitening and eliminating wrinkles. If you post on social media a lot, you will enjoy an array of effects, frames, stickers and text options.

Apart from picture editing, Fotor offers designing and collage-making capabilities. Feel free to pick one of the numerous premade templates and begin creating. The templates are divided into several groups, like basic collages, social media posts, marketing resources, documentation, and ads. For more social media templates, try Visme Social Media Graphics Tool.

Fotor isn’t just a web application, it is available for use on all devices. It provides desktop versions for both Windows and Mac. Smartphone users can download a mobile app for Android or iPhone.

4. BeFunky

BeFunky is a great answer for those who are interested in learning how to edit photos professionally for free. Its picture editing toolset is rather intuitive and suitable for users of different skill levels.

The interface is minimalistic, so it won’t take long to find the necessary tool and observe the real-time changes within the picture. To see all the edits, go to the picture’s history, and undo/redo them if appropriate.

BeFunky comprises three sections – picture editor, graphic designer and collage maker. The tools are conveniently divided into categories according to their functionality, which lets you quickly access the program’s features of interest.

You will be able to tweak contrast and exposure, perform portrait retouching, apply artistic effects, wonderful overlays and textures – all in one program. Each section has free and paid functions, which can be tested before paying for them.

Speaking of the collage and design sections, you will see a rich selection of fully customizable templates there. To make edits on the move, download a mobile BeFunky application for iOS or Android.

5. GIMP

GIMP is a robust open-source software with a broad feature-set. For many users, it is the best free analog to Photoshop out there. Windows, Mac and Linux users can download it for free.

The software’s toolset is indeed vast. It is often praised for selection and montage tools, cropping, drawing, cloning, color tweaking, as well as automatic picture enhancement tools. More experienced users would enjoy content-aware resizing, face swap, animated GIFs, layer masks, curves and customizable brushes.

Besides, GIMP offers numerous customization options, and supports third-party plugins that greatly simplify and speed up the workflow. Compared to other picture editing programs, GIMP takes up very little space.

The developers have worked hard to ensure compatibility, so you will be able to work with all well-known file formats without any problems. Also, feel free to take advantage of the integrated file manager.

GIMP is notable for a wide assortment of plugins offered to users. It even supports the equivalent of Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill tool. The name of this plugin is Resynthesizer, and it is one of the most useful enhancements created for this platform.

Another strong side of GIMP is that it is always developing. A great number of advanced GIMP users continue to improve this software by incorporating new handy and powerful functionality.

6. Canva

Use it to transform your shots into nice posters, cards, invitations and social media posts. If you are an active social media user and post quite often, you will certainly enjoy Canva.

Two tiers are offered – free and paid one. A free level is ideal for non-commercial use. Sign up by entering the email address, and you will be given access to 1GB of free cloud storage for shots and designs, 8,000 templates for editing, as well as two folders to help you organize everything. As for the Canva editor application, its layout is minimalistic, providing a canvas in the center, and a grid of tools on the left and upper part of the screen.

The majority of tools are straightforward, mostly due to their drag-and-drop style. Their arrangement is convenient, so it won’t be difficult to locate a particular template, size, media or graphic element.

More complex tools, like a smart selector or a clone brush, are absent in Canva. However, it offers awesome sliders to apply tints, vignette effects, sharpening, tweak contrast, saturation, brightness, etc. Canva is also notable for a vast array of backgrounds and graphic elements for design along with a user-friendly text editing toolset.

7. Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express is a simplified mobile version of a legendary picture post-processing software, Photoshop. The target audience of PS Express aren’t skilled photographers and photo editing experts but rather novices who need to perform quick but qualitative edits.

Its interface is straightforward and comprises standard picture editing tools, like cropping, sharpening, dehaze, tweaking clarity, saturation, vibrance, etc. Among the effects of the provided overlays are bokeh, grunge textures, light rays and whatever you need to spice up your images.

Moreover, PS Express boasts split toning and vignetting capabilities, the option to add text to the company logo, as well as numerous presets of text styles. The app pleases users with a variety of stickers and borders.

Before you save and share the picture, it is possible to pick the size and the quality of the file, which isn’t offered in similar applications. The support for RAW files is also worth mentioning.

However, if you are after staple effects, like white balance, fill light, blacks, curves, hue and luminance, mind that Adobe Photoshop Express doesn’t have any of that.

8. Photo Pos Pro

You might not have heard of Photo Pos Pro before, but it is still one of the top-grade free picture editors with awesome picture-improving capabilities.

Its interface provides a convenient and user-friendly arrangement of menus and toolbars. If you find it too complicated, try a special layout for beginners that is very similar to the filter-based approach offered by Fotor.

The layout for experienced users has layers and layer masks for advanced picture editing along with tools for manual tweaking of curves and levels. Although this layout is intended for more proficient edits, it is possible to find and use the one-click filters in the main menu.

Unfortunately, a free version of Photo Pos Pro supports export at a resolution of no more than 1,024 x 1,024 pixels. That will be fine for editing social media pics but won’t be enough for further printing.

9. PhotoScape X

PhotoScape X is a multi-functional application with an intuitive interface, which is perfect for those learning how to edit photos for free. There you will find an image viewer, an integrated screen capture tool, as well as an array of effects and filters to enhance the pics.

Stitching several shots into a collage or panorama is possible. If you are going to create slideshows, deal with animated GIFs, print shots in a template, PhotoScape X has a dedicated functionality for all these tasks.

The application impresses users with the batch editing feature, letting them convert, resize or rename a number of pictures simultaneously – just one mouse click is required. RAW converting capabilities are also worth noting, allowing you to effortlessly convert RAW to JPEG.

If you visit the PhotoScape X website, you will see a wide range of tutorials on using each tool in the most effective way. All the tools are straightforward and clearly labeled. The interface is user-friendly and modern.

Novices are unlikely to have any difficulties using this application while skilled users will enjoy its robust feature-set. Speaking of disadvantages, PhotoScape X doesn’t offer layers and applies all the changes straight to the picture.

10. PiZap

PiZap is a free online picture editor that has HTML5 and Flash versions so that you can open it on different devices. Upload a picture from a hard drive, Facebook, Google Photos, Google Drive, Google Search, or a catalog of stock images.

Its interface is dark, modern and comprises mostly sliders for quick edits. It is a definite advantage for those who edit pics on a touchscreen device since all these drop-down menus and icons may be difficult to use properly.

As soon as you are finished editing the picture, you may share it on any of the well-known social networks, or PiZap’s own servers, Dropbox and Google Drive. The other options include saving the result to the hard drive, sending it via email, or copying an embed code.

Only a premium version allows for saving the edited picture in high quality (although this won’t be a problem for social media sharing purposes).

11. Bonus: Social media

If you need a quick result and you want to save time when learning how to edit photos professionally for free – do it directly in social networks where you plan to post them. For instance, Instagram and Facebook provide plenty of top-notch filters suitable for editing pictures and giving them an overall nicer look.

With these applications, it is also possible to tweak various parameters, like highlights, shadows, sharpness, warmth, saturation, contrast, brightness, structure, alignment. Feel free to crop or rotate the shot before posting it. Besides, Facebook enables adding text and design overlays to the pictures’ edges.

When you are done editing, upload pictures to your account in one click. That is obviously easier and faster than having to download additional apps, figure out how to edit pics with their help and then fiddle with the exporting process.


augusta free press
augusta free press