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Free Image Editing for Educators

Introduction

As many of us know, the "free" image editor in Windows used to be Microsoft Photo Editor. It was quite good: easy to use with a good selection of tools and features. Unfortunately, Microsoft changed the Windows image editing software to Microsoft Office Picture Manager, a program that is neither as intuitive nor as powerful as its predecessor. Something better is needed!

Fortunately, Web 2.0 tools are now available that can step in and take the place of Picture Manager, ranging from very simple, easy-to-use tools to online programs that are more sophisticated and quite powerful. Give them a try!

This document covers:

FotoFlexer.com

FotoFlexer.com is a free, Web-based, picture editing program. Some may find it similar to Picnik.com, a tool that is being discontinued by its owners and very soon will be unavailable.

Getting Started:
Fotoflexer Upload Button It isn't necessary to create an account. Just click the [Upload Photo] button. At the next screen, click the [Upload] button and browse to find a picture on your computer. Fotoflexer.com also allows you to edit pictures from Facebook, PhotoBucket and other sources.

The Basics:
FotoFlexer.com is organized under tabs. The Basic tab contains the simple tools that many users will be looking for to do some quick picture editing. The other tabs give access to tools for special effects, for correcting blemishes in the picture and even for adding images in new layers!

FotoFlexer screen
FotoFlexer main screen

Saving, Quitting, etc.:
The blue menu bar above the tabs contains several useful buttons:

FotoFlexer menu bar

  • Load Another Photo
    Load Another Photo
    Load Another Photo - Opens another picture on top of the present one. The new image can be resized, moved around, rotated, etc.
  • New - Open a new photo in place of the present one.
  • Save - Save the picture that is currently open.
  • Quit - Close the current photo without leaving FotoFlexer.
  • ? - Send a question or comment to FotoFlexer.
  • Settings button (Settings) - Choose between Hi-Res Image Mode and Canvas Mode. This is available to registered users only.

Hints:

  • FotoFlexer.com is an ideal tool for a quick edit, or for someone who doesn't want to be bothered with creating a (free) account.
  • The Effects can be fun for students to experiment with, and some -- like the Pop Art Effect -- can be used in teaching about some of the different styles and effects used in art.
  • Undo the last action by pressing the [Ctrl] and [Z] keys simultaneously.

Note:
FotoFlexer.com states that all users must be 13 years of age or older.

Using the Pop Art Effect
Using the Pop Art Effect
Using the Neon Effect to create a neon kitteh
Neon "Kitteh" wants "cheezburgerz"
 

SumoPaint.com

SumoPaint.com is a complex and sophisticated online program that will look familiar to anyone who has used Photoshop or Fireworks. It allows the use of layers, and it has a wide variety of available tools and editing techniques.

SumoPaint screenshot
SumoPaint screenshot

Getting Started:
From the initial screen, you have the choice of creating a new picture, or opening an image from your computer or from a URL (Internet address). There is no need to try to login or to create an account, if you just want to edit a few pictures. If you have a Sumo Paint account, you can also store images there and open them for editing in Sumo. Images can be stored with full layers intact.

Basics:
You will start out "logged in" as a guest user. Tools are on the left, panels are on the right. The work area is in the middle.

  • After opening an image, click View in the menu at the top of the Sumo Paint window. Use the Zoom controls to make the image as large or as small as you need for editing. Drag out the lower-right corner of the image window, if you prefer. This was down with the bird picture in the screenshot above.
  • The "default" tool is the Move Tool ( Move Tool ). When in doubt, choose the Move Tool.
  • Use the Text Tool ( Text Tool ) to add text to any image. When any tool is chosen, its properties appear near the top of the window.
  •  
  • You can draw on an image with the Brush Tool ( Brush Tool ), the Pencil Tool ( Pencil Tool ), or the Ink Tool ( Ink Tool ).
  • Save Window
    Save Window
    Choose File > Save to My Computer to save your work on your computer. If you're not finished working on an image, choose the SUMO format to maintain the layers. The SUMO image can only be opened in Sumo Paint, but if you choose either of the other two formats, your layers will be lost. PNGs are good for use in Word documents and in other Microsoft products. Select JPG for a picture that can be used in Web pages, documents or just about anywhere.

Hints:

  • Place your cursor on each of the tools in the toolbox, to find out what that tool does.
  • The two arrows near the bottom of the tools are Undo and Redo.
  • To add another image inside the one you're working on, select
    File > Import to Layer > From My Computer. The new picture will appear, and a new Layer will automatically be created.
  • If things aren't working the way you think they should, it's generally that you have the wrong tool and/or the wrong layer selected. Check which tool is active, then look in the Layers Panel, in the lower-right part of the Sumo Paint window, to see which layer is active. If it's the wrong one, click another layer and try your edit again.
  • Want to resize, rotate and/or move a new image that you've added to a picture? Use the Free Transform feature.
    1. Select the Move Tool.
    2. Click the image's layer in the Layers Panel.
    3. Choose Edit > Free Transform from the menu at the top of the Sumo Paint window.
    4. Resize by dragging the corners of the image in or out. Rotate by putting your cursor just outside the Free Transform box, then click and drag your mouse to rotate. To Move, click and drag the image anywhere on the larger image. When done, select Apply Transform, just below the menu at the top of the window.

Working with the Free Transform
Working with the Free Transform in SumoPaint

Picnik.com - DISCONTINUED

Picnik.com will be gone from the Internet, as of 4/19/2012. This highlights one of the weaknesses of Web 2.0 tools and shows why we shouldn't become totally dependent upon a single tool.

Photoshop.com

Photoshop.com is a website where you can upload, store, and edit images. It does not have as many tools as Picnik, but it is easy to use and offers free storage space for images.

One great feature of Photoshop.com is that it is easy to use pictures stored there in CMS Outreach pages. need to register or sign in.

The Good:

  • Easy to use! - Most users find the tools to be intuitive.
  • Free image storage - Pictures can be stored and shared easily. Send a Web address to someone, instead of an attached image. Images in Photoshop.com can be placed in CMS Outreach pages.

The Not-So-Good:

  • Account required - A free account is needed to use Photoshop.com. The account is very quick and easy to set up, however.
  • No GIFs - Photoshop.com accepts JPG images, but not GIFs.

Share a Photoshop.com Image, or Use in CMS Outreach

  1. In your Photoshop.com Library, put your cursor on the bottom edge of the picture to see the Photo Options link.
  2. Click Photo Options and select Share Media.
  3. To copy the Internet address:
    1. Click the first icon under the thumbnail image (1). This will copy the address into the computer's memory.
    2. Paste the address into an email message.
  4. To place the image in a CMS Outreach page:
    1. Click the second icon under the thumbnail (2). This copies the code to embed the image in a Web page.
    2. Click [Close].
    3. In CMS Outreach, open the Edit window of you page.
    4. CMS Outreach HTML buttonAt the bottom of the Edit window, click the HTML icon (circled in red).
    5. Find the place where you want to embed the image. Right click, and select Paste.
    6. At the bottom of the Edit window, choose the Normal icon to return to the Normal editing view.
    7. Click the image.
    8. CMS Outreach Justify buttonsClick the Left Justify or the Right Justify buttons (circled in red, to the right) to wrap the text around the image.
    9. Click Save and Set Active.

Photoshop.com - Share Media

 

Free, High-Quality Images!

Friends don't let friends use bad clip art in their Web pages, PowerPoints, or lesson plans.

Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org)
Free or Fair Use images. Browse for any subject and click any image you see to find out if you can use that image. Many of the images are either Public Domain or are available for Fair Use for educators.

morgueFile (www.morguefile.com)
Free images. The morgueFile database of free pictures is quite extensive, and images are searchable by subject. Avoid the Dreamstime images, because those are not free.


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