Glamour Shots: Inspiring Inventory with Free Image Editors
When selling tangible goods online, it's extremely important to present shoppers with professional images. As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words, and images are critical in rousing consumer interest in your products.
|» Sitting Pretty: Five Free Image Hosting Services
Often you may find that a plain digital photo of the item you sell is just not enough to inspire a purchase.
To add pizazz to your images, you can take advantage of image-editing software to dress up borders, resize and zoom in on product highlights, or even add lighting and special effects to turn a plain product shot into enticing eye-candy for your Web shop.
For small e-tailers, particularly those on a tight budget, purchasing image-editing software (also called graphics programs) can be expensive. Here we take a look at five programs that you can use to spice up your product images — completely free.
|GIMP for Windows
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GIMP For Windows
GIMP was originally designed for Unix and Linux, however, GIMP for Windows can run on any NT-based version of Windows (NT4, 2000, XP or Vista). This free and open source image editor offers users a Photoshop-esque look and feel.
You can use GIMP for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. The Painting feature offers a full set of tools such as brush, pencil, airbrush and others. There's also a gradient editor, blend tool and anti-aliasing. And, GIMP has manipulation tools for rotating, cropping and scaling, as well as a foreground extraction tool and multiple selection tools.
Another cool feature is the animation tool that lets you load and save animations in a convenient frame-as-layer format. The GIMP Web site offers new users visual tutorials, and a registry of plug-ins, scripts and images that the development community contributed that can be downloaded. Because GIMP is beta volunteer-developed software, support and updates may not be available, however GIMP works — and works well.
- Cost: Free
- Requirements: GIMP for Windows (version 2.4.6) requires Windows 2000, XP, 2003 or Vista.
Another free image and photo editor you can try is Paint.NET. Originally developed as a free alternative to the Microsoft Paint software that comes with Windows, Paint.NET started out as a college senior design project mentored by Microsoft. One stand-out feature of this program is that it uses a well-designed, tabbed document interface that displays thumbnails, rather then text descriptions for navigation. Surprisingly enough, the software also allows you to work with layers, something usually found in expensive graphics software, and even though it is free, it is also updated frequently.
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Those working with product shots will be able to adjust the look and feel of their images with special effects including blur, sharpen, red-eye removal, distortion, noise and emboss. There is also a 3D Rotate effect to add perspective to your image. Paint.NET also offers a well-rounded set of editing tools for drawing shapes, a curve tool, magic wand, clone stamp, eraser, gradient tool, a basic text editor and a recolor tool. Like Picasa, this software is free, but has many functions you get in programs made for professionals. We think it's one of the best free image editing tools you can download.
- Cost: Paint.NET Version 3.31 or beta 3.35 - Free. Users can consider a donation to support future developments.
- Requirements: Windows XP (SP2 or later), or Windows Vista, or Windows Server (2003 SP1 or later), .NET Framework 2.0, 500 MHz processor, 256 MB of RAM, 1024 x 768 screen resolution, 200+ MB hard drive space.
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