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Photoshop Alternatives: 12 Free Image Manipulation Tools For Windows

Due to the popularity of digital cameras and mobile phones with cameras, there are more people who crave the capability of editing their images to their taste. Adobe Photoshop is certainly the best photo-editing application available, but it’s also quite expensive.

It’s often a requirement for professional designers but not the best deal for editing or enhancing your home photos. Don’t worry though as there are plenty of free options available for Windows users. From simple editing to adding great effects to your photos, there are lots of things the followng 12 Photoshop alternatives can help you with. If you know of more great software like these, let us know in the comments.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express for Windows 8 enables photo magic at your fingertips. It’s a small pack of essential everyday photo-editing tools from Adobe to help you create better-looking pictures. It has many exciting features to enhance your photos and allows easy touch-ups through functions like crop, rotate, flip, brightness, etc.

PC Image Editor

PC Image Editor is a solid but simple image-editing application. It’s built for beginners and professionals who like to customize or enhance photos with minimum effort. The super intuitive interface brings many editing tools and options such as unique filters, crop and rotate functions, colors and image adjustment features just to name a few.

Magix Photo Designer

Magix Photo Designer is a free alternative to classic image editing programs. It lets you edit and optimize your digital picture thus making it easy even for amateurs. With just a few clicks, turn your photos into paintings or fun caricatures. It comes with handy features such as quick optimization, photo effects, collage maker and you can even make panoramas.

Funny Photo Maker

Funny Photo Maker is the best photo editor for enhancing digital photos and making funny pictures. There are several options and tools for customizing your images. Some of its features include artistic photo effects, decorative frames, funny picture templates and various other editing tools. It supports most popular image formats.

Picasa HD

Picasa HD provides a more powerful and vivid image viewing experience. It lets you browse your Picasa albums and photos in high resolution with beautiful, full screen slideshows and detailed information. Use it to access and manage your Picasa albums, and also add, delete, search and share the photos. Only for Windows 8.

PhotoPad Image Editor

PhotoPad Image Editor is an easy digital photo-editing application which brings a remarkable set of features and support for all popular image formats. It comes packaged with basic editing tools, dazzling photo effects, photo adjustment tools and various other capabilities. It also allows you to make stunning photo collages and mosaics.

Photopus

Photopus is a fantastic batch photo editor which eases the customization of a large collection of images. It’s a powerful application with user-friendly interface and lots of options to edit photos with desired customization. It comes with a watermarker, image transformation tools and an image converter among other things.

Pos Free Photo Editor

Pos Free Photo Editor is a simple but feature-rich batch digital photo and image editing application. It lets you enhance, edit, print and manipulate pictures easily to create eye-catching graphics. It comes with various basic and advanced image enhancing tools and functions, special photo effects, rich text tools and supports many picture file types.

SuperPhoto

SuperPhoto for Windows 8 turns your digital images into awesome-looking photos. Your photos can become incredible art pieces with outstanding photo effects. It’s feature-packed with 100+ cool effects to enhance your photos. Filters, combos, textures and patterns are among some of its supported editing features.

PhotoEffects

PhotoEffects, as its name suggests, is a powerful photo editor for easy and quick photo editing on-the-go. It comes with a simple, clean and beautiful user interface with lots of built-in image manipulation tools. It offers you features such as photo effects, image filters, color and contrast, cosmetic tools and image sharing options. Only available for Windows 8.

Photo Booth Pro

Photo Booth Pro lets you take your photos through your webcam with special photo effects. It comes with various photo and camera effects, a snap timer and even photo sharing options. It runs on Windows 8.

Viscom Photo

Viscom Photo is an easy to use batch photo editor and collage maker. It comes with drag and drop features, Office 2007-like clean user interface and support for reading and writing various image file formats. Some of its features include an easy collage maker, background templates, image editing in batch mode etc.


    







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Export Photoshop Layers Easily With Cut&Slice Me

Cutting and slicing in the design process is undoubtedly time-consuming work. Moreover, it becomes more and more complicated when you have to cut and slice hundreds of layers in different scale.

Of course, there are copy merged, export layers to files or slice features in photoshop. But those approaches have not helped much in making the cutting and slicing process faster. What you need is a plugin.

Cut&Slice Me is a Photoshop extension for simplifying the process of cutting and slicing design. You can then export your layers for iPhone, Android or Desktop devices. The exported files come with various scales and resolutions as well, such as retina for iPhone or HDPI, LDPI, MDPI and XHDPI for Android.

Cut&Slice Me Installation

To use the Cut&Slice Me plugin, you need at least Adobe Photoshop CS6/CC installed on your machine. Download the plugin (and the sample PSD file that we’ll be working on later).

Once your download has finished, double click the CutAndSliceMe.zxp file and installation will automatically begin by Adobe Extension Manager. Follow the instructions and restart your Photoshop if it was already open.

To make the plugin visible in your Photoshop right panel, simply go to Window > Extensions > Cut and Slice me.

Getting Started

Cut&Slice Me is easy to use but you have to do a bit of work first to make sure the plugin works efficiently during cutting and slicing.

First, you have to organize your layer objects into folders as Cut&Slice Me checks only group names. You also need to add the “@” symbol at the end of the layer group name you want to export.

Slicing Defined Size

All unnecessary transparent pixels are removed in the exporting process. To keep the exported file in yrou desired size:

1. Make sure you have checked the ‘Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid’ setting in Edit > Preferences > General.

2. Then, create a rectangular vector layer for the size you want.

3. Place this shape at the very top of the group, so it will tell the plugin the area size you wish to export in. Lastly, name the shape “#”.

Image source: Cut&Slice Me Basic Tutorial

Different State Asset

When dealing with buttons, which often has different states, you can use a special method.

1. In exporting a button, create a new layer group for the button and include a “_BTN” label in its name.

2. Inside the group button, create another group containing button states and name them according to the states. The group state names should be as follows:

  • normal
  • hover
  • clicked/pressed
  • selected
  • disabled

Aside from buttons, this rule can also be applied for other elements that may have different states, like the following screenshot.

Using Cut&Slice Me

Now let’s look at how Cut@Slice Me can help you with your designs. As mentioned earlier, we’ll be using the sample PSD design file from the Cut&Slice Me homepage.

As mentioned before, currently Cut&Slice Me lets you export to iPhone, Android and Web. You can choose to slice all assets, subgroups or selected layers. Slice and export the sample design to iPhone.

After the exporting process is finished, you will find the result files are located in the original PSD file location (see image).

So far, I assume you have a solid understanding about how the plugin works already. So, let’s try using the plugin with another design.

Using Webpaint template from Elemis Freebies, you’ll see how to set up the plugin rules from scratch.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll only use half of the design for exporting. The following screenshot is a comparison of how the layers are structured before and after they are ready for use.

On the left (in red) are the original layers. After rearranging and renaming the layers’ states, we arrive at what is on the right (in blue).

As the design template will be used for the web, in the plugin panel, choose the device mode for desktop (monitor icon). Hit Cut All assets.

Now, the defined asset had been sliced successfully, like so.

Note that, if you are slicing your own design, you need to have it in the highest resolution since final images are for xhdpi in Android and retina in Apple devices. This plugin carries out the full resolution of the design then scales it down for export into different sizes.

Conclusion

No time is wasted when you cut and slice using this Photoshop plugin. With a little bit more discipline in layer organization, even complex designs can be sliced with precision and ease.


    







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16 Video Tutorials To Learn Photoshop CC’s New Features

Editor’s note: This is a contributed post by Jo Sabin, community manager, and Tara Hornor, freelance editor at DesignCrowd, a leading online graphic design jobs marketplace.

The most recent version of Adobe products, called Creative Cloud (CC), was released in summer 2013, but is available only as a monthly subscription. As such, not everyone has been thrilled with the new release. However, one nice benefit of a monthly subscription is the ability to subscribe to just Photoshop for a lower fee than to the entire kit and caboodle. But is it switch from CS6 to CC worth it?

Photoshop CC actually has a good handful of exciting new features, mainly, in the filters department. So, if you find that you use filters quite a bit, switching to CC is probably worth the monthly payment. If the extra filter features are something you can live without, then you are probably fine sticking with CS6. Take a look at the 16 videos below, though, to help you better decide which move is best for you.

And if you have already committed to CC, then have fun trying out the tutorials and honing your Photoshop CC skills!

Adobe Photoshop CC – My Top 5 Favorite Features by Terry White
Learn quickly about some of the best features of Photoshop CC from Terry White, a worldwide design evangelist for Adobe systems.

What’s New in Adobe Photoshop CC by Everyday HDR
This video takes a quick look at the best new features in Photoshop CC. An excellent way to very easily see what the new version has to offer.

Photoshop CC Tutorials by Photoshop Training Channel
If you are completely new to Photoshop CC, then this tutorial is an excellent place to start. It gives an excellent overview of the new features, showing step-by-step how to use each.

Camera RAW as a Photoshop Filter and Playlist by FocalOnline
This first video in the playlist by Martin Evening shows how to use Camera RAW as a filter. See more videos on the Adobe Photoshop CC Tutorials playlist to learn more about the new features in Photoshop CC, including more Camera RAW functionalities, Shake Reduction, and more.

Camera RAW Retouching Improvements by PSDTuts+
This tutorial takes you through more than just using Camera RAW as a filter; it also shows how to use Spot Removal as a paint brush and Visualize Spots to find dust spots from the camera lens.

Smart Sharpen Improvements in Photoshop CC by PSDTuts+
Learn how to use the improved Smart Sharpen tool to clarify images and get rid of unwanted halos and noise.

Camera RAW Filter for Skin Smoothing by Whole Cloth Productions
Learn the benefits of using Camera RAW Filter for smoothing out skin in Photoshop CC, along with step-by-step instructions on how to do so.

Camera Shake Reduction by PSDTuts+
This is an excellent, well-done video showing how to best use the new Camera Shake Reduction feature in Photoshop CC.

Gauging the Best Sharpening Settings by Lynda.com
In this tutorial, you will learn how to decide on the best settings for sharpening an image in Photoshop CC. More free videos from this series are available on Lynda’s Photoshop CC video list, or with membership, gain access to the entire series.

Photoshop Air Brushing Tutorial by Roberto Blake
In this tutorial, Roberto shows how to create smooth skin undestructively using the right tools in Photoshop CC.

Photoshop CC Masking Tutorial by Roberto Blake
With this step-by-step tutorial, learn how to mask a model’s hair using Photoshop CC.



Photoshop Neon Glowing Lines Tutorial by Roberto Blake
First learn how to create glowing lines in Photoshop CC, and then follow some final steps for further enhancing the glow.

Masking with Pen Tool by Roberto Blake
Blake teaches you how to mask hard edges using the Pen Tool to make selections in Photoshop CC.

Black Diamond Text Effect by Ch-Ch-Checkit
Using Photoshop CC, learn how to create an incredible text effect based on the Black Diamond Speed Art text effect from DutchArtFX in 2010.

Rock Text Effect by Photoshop Training Channel
Learn how to create a realistic rock text effect in Photoshop CC using a rock texture and enhancing with effects.

Make an Animated GIF in Photoshop Using Cell Phone Videos by Photoshop Training Channel
In this extensive video, you will learn how to use Photoshop to edit videos using such features as adjustment layers and the timeline panel.


    







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10 Sites to Get Useful Photoshop Actions

Photoshop actions can be a brilliant time-saving tool, especially when one needs to edit and apply the same settings on a huge number of images in quick succession. With Photoshop actions, you can do things like retouching portraits, converting photos to black and white, and dramatically changing the look of a picture by making it sharp, smooth, dreamy or grungy.

Actions are easy to install, and you need to push just one button to apply lots of settings and turn an ordinary image into a breathtaking shot. Therefore, it isn’t surprising to see new actions being created every day by professional photographers, designers, and other enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for some good places to get high-quality Photoshop actions, we’ve got just the thing for you. Here’s a list of 10 websites to get fantastic Photoshop actions, some of which are free.

Adobe. Adobe.com features tons of free Photoshop actions, which can be filtered by licence type (e.g. Shareware, Open Source, Freeware, Donation, Commercial, etc.). Each action is listed with a preview image as well as a brief description.

Photoshop Tutorials. This website is mainly dedicated to Photoshop tutorials, but it also has lots of free Photoshop actions for you to download. All the Photoshop actions available on the site are presented in the blog’s feed and are categorised to ease your search.

PhotographyPla.net. A useful resource for photographers. Here you’ll find tons of Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, frames, photo overlays, textures, print templates, and other products you can buy. Moreover, their blog contains photography articles and some Photoshop actions that can be downloaded for free.

Brusheezy. A cool website where you’ll find a huge number of Photoshop elements any photographer or designer may need, such as free brushes, actions, textures, patterns, shapes, gradients, UI kits, and many more. Just use the relevant keywords to find exactly what you want to look for.

MCP Actions. On this site, you can find tons of Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that you can buy, and photography workshops you can sign up for a fee. Aside from the items for sale, there are also actions and Lightroom presets that you can download for free. The site also runs a fantastic blog with video editing tutorials and useful photography tips and tricks.

Florabella Collection. Another reliable website to get professional and high-quality Photoshop actions from. With action bundles priced at over $100, the site is aimed at professional photographers who edit tons of photos every day. Most of their actions are soft and may spice up any picture in no time. The site also has some free retouching tutorials.

Yellow Sky Actions. Another good website where you can buy high-quality Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets. Besides soft-light, vintage, and natural light actions, you’ll also find retouching and black & white actions in every bundle they sell. There are preview images for each pack of actions so that you’ll know what you’re getting. The price of actions sets range from $50 to $75.

Bellevue Avenue. A website that sells lots of different action sets to suit various needs, for example, special kits to retouch skin, eyes and teeth, and dreamy action kits for baby photographs. Besides that, there’s also a free action bundle for Facebook, print, and web designs. Some free video tutorials on creating Photoshop actions are also available on the site.

LookFilter. Curated by a group of experienced professional photographers, this website sells a number of high-quality Photoshop actions with prices ranging from $29 to $199. The site also has free Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets as well as video tutorials.

Totally Rad. A clean and user-friendly website that sells some amazing action kits. You can sign up for an account on the site to get some free samples of their high-quality Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets, which can turn any image into eye candy.


    







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20 Valentine’s Day Photoshop Tutorials For Your Inspiration

It’s that time of the year again, where excitement builds in the hearts of lovers everywhere. Valentine’s Day is indeed a time for many to try their very best to make their better half feel special. The usual way is to get them gifts, which is nothing to complain about – who doesn’t like getting flowers or a new pair of earrings?

After a while though, things get stagnant, which is why perhaps you are reading this. Feel like designing something special for your partner? We have here a collection of 20 lovely Valentine’s Day Photoshop tutorials that you may find useful for creating unique Valentine’s Day cards, wallpapers, or even Valentine-themed decorations for dedications on your personal website. Good luck!

How to Create a Chocolaty Valentine’s Day Card for Your Girlfriend. In this tutorial, you’ll get to learn how to create a "sweet" Valentine’s Day card with a giddy background for your significant other. You can customize the design by adding pictures as well.

Create a Valentine’s Day-Inspired 3D Text Effect Using Filter Forge and Photoshop. An in-depth tutorial with step-by-step illustrations on how to use Photoshop and Filter Forge to design a wood-textured 3D text effect that even comes with a semi-transparent heart.

How to Create Colorful Valentine’s Day Card with Shining Heart in Photoshop CS5. A tutorial that will show you how to use Photoshop CS5 to design a colorful Valentine’s Day card with a brightly colored heart on it.

Photoshop Pro: Create a Cloudy Text Effect. A quick guide on how to create a cute Valentine’s Day collage with your own images.

Valentine’s Day – Photoshop Style. An awesome step-by-step Photoshop text effect tutorial you can use to add a romantic touch to your Valentine’s Day card design.

Heart in Envelope Icon PSD Tutorial. Use this tutorial to learn how to make a fantastic Valentine-themed envelope icon that has a heart encased in it. You can use the icon as part of a contact form or as an RSS feed icon for your personal website on Valentine’s Day.

How to Create Elegant Valentine’s Day Card with Ornamental Heart in Photoshop CS5. A short Photoshop tutorial on how to design a lovely Valentine-themed background by using Gradients, Custom Shapes, and Layer Styles.

Basic Tutorial: Create a Stylized Valentine’s Poster. A short tutorial on how to use Photoshop to design a simple but classy Valentine-themed poster. This tutorial is especially useful for beginner Photoshop users as it features some basic Photoshop tricks.

Love Me Photoshop Manipulation for Valentine’s Day. In this tutorial, you’ll get to learn how to achieve awesome photo manipulation results by using some lighting, shadow, and color matching techniques.

Chocolate Text Effect in Photoshop for Valentine’s Day. A cool tutorial with an accompanying video that will show you how to make a cool text effect with chocolate waffles and sweet pink frosting on it.

Valentine Photoshop Wallpaper with Jeans Heart. A simple tutorial on how to use Photoshop to make a jeans-inspired Valentine-themed wallpaper that has a broken heart with stitchings.

Quick Photoshop Tutorial: Dreamy Bokeh Effect. Add a touch of romance to your everyday photos with this quick Photoshop tutorial on the bokeh effect.

Amorous Wallpaper. You may find this tutorial handy for using Photoshop to create simple yet elegant Valentine’s Day wallpapers with romantic text.

Photoshop Tutorial: Create a Stitched Valentine Heart Effect. In this tutorial, you will learn how to make a jeans-textured Valentine-themed design that even comes with stitching effects.

Love Roses Text in Photoshop for Valentine’s Day. Learn how to use Photoshop to make a cool 3D text effect that involves letters filled with red roses.

Photoshop Tutorial – Colour Adjustment Using Blending Modes. Play around with blending modes to add a romantic touch to a photo and turn it into a Valentine’s Day card for your special one.

3D Valentine’s Day Typography Exclusive Tutorial. Need more help with creating 3D text effects in Photoshop? Give this tutorial a try.

Design a Beautiful Valentine’s Day Wallpaper. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a lovely Valentine’s Day wallpaper with the bokeh effect.

Valentine’s Day eCard – Photoshop Graphic Design Tutorial 16. A short but useful tutorial on how to create a simple but lovely Valentine’s Day poster/card using Photoshop.

How to Create Abstract Valentine’s Day Illustration with Hearts in Photoshop CS5. With this tutorial, you will learn how to create a multi-layered Valentine’s Day design with pink heart shapes on it.


    







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20 UI Design Photoshop Tutorials That Will Come in Handy

Using Photoshop to create captivating UI elements such as realistic-looking icons and widgets is often a challenging task, especially for those who are still learning the ropes of UI/UX design. Many different factors have to be taken into consideration: the lighting, edges, shadows, and so on.

Lucky for us, there are plenty of useful tutorials available online on how to create impressive user and web interface elements; and today, I would like to bring your attention to 20 of them. You can use these tutorials to spice up your website’s design, design a new mobile app, or simply to improve your Photoshop skills.

More Photoshop tutorials:

How to Create a Detailed Audio Rotary Knob Control. A detailed tutorial with step-by-step illustrations on how to create a detailed Retina audio rotary knob UI element in Photoshop and Illustrator.

How to Design a Chatroom iPhone UI. A comprehensive guide on how to create a chat-based app UI for iPhone. All the different Photoshop tools and layer styles included make it a worthwhile tutorial to use if you’re looking to improve your Photoshop skills.

Create a Flat Countdown Timer – iOS 7 Inspired. Learn how to design a iOS 7-inspired countdown timer with this tutorial. You’ll learn how to play around with colors, styles, and backgrounds to achieve unique results.

Create a Realistic Telephone Keypad Using Layer Styles. Learn how to design a realistic-looking telephone keypad using layer styles and shape layers with this beginner-friendly Photoshop tutorial that will probably just take 30 minutes to complete.

Create an Instagram Widget. This tutorial will show you how to design an attractive Instagram widget with Photoshop in just a half an hour. A good way to get more Instagram followers for your website.

Design a Photorealistic App Icon. Have you seen lots of realistic-looking app icons on Dribble before? Using layer masks and styles, this detailed step-by-step tutorial will show you how to design a record player app icon that will look just as realistic as those icons you’ve seen on Dribble.

Create a Clean Twitter App Interface. An extremely detailed tutorial (more than 80 steps involved) on how to design a minimalist Twitter app interface. If you’re thinking of becoming a mobile interface designer, this might be the best tutorial for you to start with.

Design a Glossy Coming Soon Box/Layout. Learn how to use Photoshop to design a smooth and stylish "Coming Soon" layout that even comes with a loading bar.

How to Design a Realistic Takeout Coffee Icon. If you’ve seen my previous showcase of beautiful coffee cup designs, you can use this tutorial to learn how to create an attractive coffee cup design just like one of those featured in the showcase.

How to Design an iPhone Music Player App Interface. In this intermediate-level tutorial, you will learn how to make use of several new features found in Photoshop CS6 to design a stylish iPhone music player app UI.

Create a Mobile Calendar App. In this 25-step tutorial, you will learn how to design a bright orange mobile calendar app interface using Photoshop. This tutorial is intended for intermediate Photoshop users.

Design a Slider with Ribbon Elements (CS6). Learn how to design a nice sleek slider with ribbons using Photoshop with this tutorial. It also features lots of useful tricks and techniques that may come in handy for you in the future.

Design a Slick Modern Pricing Table UI. This short but clear tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop to create a modern pricing table in just 5 steps.

Build a Slick Rich User Interface. A comprehensive tutorial that guides you on how to use Photoshop to create a rich and stylish UI with a realistic-looking LED screen. Throughout the tutorial, you will learn a number of complex Photoshop techniques.

How to Create a Super Shiny Pencil Icon. In this advanced Photoshop tutorial, you will learn how to create a realistic-looking pencil icon by using gradients, shadows, and transformation tools.

Create a Clean Web 2.0 Login Form. Learn how to use Photoshop to design a simple login form that has a huge side button with this tutorial. A PSD file is also provided in the tutorial.

Design an iPad App UI. This tutorial will teach you how to create a design for an iPad app by using grid structures and masking tools. You’ll also learn how to develop different pages in a single document.

Design a Calendar Widget. Learn how to create a simple but cool Calendar widget with this easy-to-follow tutorial that has lots of illustrations.

Design a Clean and Modern Pinboard Widget. This tutorial will teach you how to create a clean, minimalist pinboard widget for featuring the most popular posts – handy for bloggers of any kind.

Create a Simple Contact Form. Learn how to use Photoshop to create a flat, clean contact form in just 40 minutes. This tutorial is intended for beginner Photoshop users.


    







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