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A closer look at 5 free picture and image editing tools

by Kelly Walsh on October 10, 2010


A closer look at 5 photo editing tools mentioned in this month’s Campus Technology article, “The Super-Secret, Never-Before-Revealed Guide to Web 2.0 in the Classroom“.

I read this article this week, and there is a section in it entitled “4 Itty-Bitty Content Tools“, which in turn has a subsection titled “Become An Image Editor”. They mention five photo editing tools in this section, but don’t go into a lot of detail about them. I sat down this weekend and took most of them for a trial run. Here’s what I learned.

This tool has features like “red eye reduction”, “normalize” (improve color balance), “fill light” (lighten entire pic), “whiten teeth” (although I found the result a little overdone in the example I tested), and “colors tool” (lets you change brightness, saturation, and hue). But the real fun here is the “fun effects”, such as Lomo (add a soft, dark halo around photo), speech bubbles, snowflakes, a filtering tool, and more. You can order prints and products like t-shirts, mugs, etc., that incorporate your masterpiece.

Wet Floor Maker
This tool “turns your photos into cool reflecting images” – you can choose which axis to reflect on, the degree of reflection, and other options. This is a neat idea, but the end result is a small low-res image, and I don’t see any option to let you get a larger end product.

This applet lets you upload a picture, select a section of it using a presized frame, then save it or email it. The idea is to give you a very easy way to create a profile picture for social networks, but you can do this very easily using Paint on a PC (and I believe Mac Picture Editor is the equivalent on the Mac).

Roundpic automatically rounds the edges of a picture, but it’s limited to 1 MB pictures. It also doesn’t appear to offer any control over the way the rounding effect is applied. Pixenate does the same thing but provides some control over the degree of rounding, and also let’s you fill the corners with color. You can actually create a multi-layered corner look by applying the technique a couple times.

Google’s photo editing and management tool offers functionality well beyond those cited above, and it is free, but it has to be downloaded and installed. In addition to photo enhancement features, Picasa also let’s you share photos online, create online photo albums, and more. Of course, there are also options to order products that incorporate your photos. If you work with photos a lot, Picassa is probably worth downloading and setting up. To learn more about it, click here.

Video blog entry for this post
In this video I briefly look at each of these 5 tools online.

You can do a lot of what some of these tools do using Paint in Windows or the included photo editing tools on the Mac. That being said, some of the tools above go well beyond Paint. Of these tools, Pixenate was a stand out to me – it provided unique and useful functionality, and is well worth being aware of and taking for a spin yourself!. There are many more free photo editing tools out there on the web, I think I’ll try a few more out next week.

Comments welcomed!
I’d love to hear about your experiences with tools like these, so feel free to weigh in about those you’d like to recommend, or offer any comments you might wish to make about the tools we’ve discussed here. Thanks!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Vuvox Rocks (what a great tool for creating student reports and teacher presentations)
Comparing 12 Free Screencasting Tools
30 Posts About Free Education Technology Tools & Resources


Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer at The College of Westchester, in White Plains, NY, where he also teaches. In 2009, Walsh founded He frequently delivers presentations and training on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. His eBook, the Flipped Classroom Workshop-in-a-Book is available here. Walsh became the Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network in June of 2016. In his "spare time" he also writes, records, and performs original music ... stop by and have a listen!

[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, or those of other writers, and not those of my employer. - K. Walsh]

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John Pearce October 16, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Hi Kelly,
You might like to look in at my Get The Picture Wiki that includes a look at a number of off-line as well as as online digital image editors plus a bit more.

Derrick Waddell October 12, 2010 at 7:42 am

I agree that Picnik is great for quick, easy editing. For more robust editing, more akin to Photoshop and GIMP, try Aviary ( You can even create vector graphics and edit music using Aviary. The best part–it’s free!

Mary McGlasson October 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Try Fotoflexer — a year after we used the tools mentioned above (i.e., those that were listed in the article), we became fotoflexer converts . . .

Tim Johnson October 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for sharing. Another good web based tool for editing pictures is
Users can crop, resize and rotate pictures. There are lots of special effects and clipart images to add if you like. Cool fonts. No download is needed and changes can be saved right to your computer.

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