Monday, April 2, 2007

Regarding images and such...

Okay, this is not specifically related to biblical studies, but I find that I am regularly making recommendations to others about image editing tools.
For detailed or extensive editing work, I use Adobe PhotoElements. It's slow, somewhat expensive, and requires some work to learn to use. Many times, it is way more program than I need, and so I like to recommend the following free programs.

  • I really like the FastStone line of products. Their Image Viewer is as fast as IrfanView (another fine free program that can handle a ton of formats and can use plugins), and it is very nice for quick manipulation of images.
  • If you do need more extensive image editing power, I think Paint.NET is the best free program out there. (Some people like GIMP, and it may do more, but it seems a bit more difficult to me.) [UPDATE: 2007.12.03] Another program that works well and is fairly simple to use is Photobie, which is quite nice for graphics creation, image and photo editing, and gif animation.
  • UPDATE (2007.12.11): A recent CNET-TV feature highlighted free Photoshop alternatives. In addition to Paint.NET and GIMP which I noted above, they also pointed to an online photo editor, FotoFlexer. It handles most basic editing and is rather fast.
  • PhotoElements includes an album feature, but I actually prefer using Picasa, Google's free program that provides for easy organizing, editing, and sharing of images.
  • I have tried a lot of screen capture utilities, and by far the one I like the best is the FastStone Capture program. It can capture scrolling screens, a variety of shapes, saves in a variety ways, and also includes a color picker.
  • [UPDATE: 2008.03.20] If you need to create your own vector graphics, there are four decent options:
    a) Creative Docs.NET is an excellent choice and it is free. In addition to creating graphics, it also works as a page layout tool for posters, illustrations, short newsletters, etc.
    b) Inkspace is very nice though there is a bit of a learning curve.
    c) though an older version, Creature House Expression 3 (now owned by Microsoft) is a fine, free program.
    d) Serif Draw Plus version 4 is a free download, and is good enough, but once you get on Serif's list, you can upgrade to version 7 for only about $8. (Note the very latest version of DrawPlus, version 8, will cost close to $100.)

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