10 Free Ways to Create Eye Catching Images

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 26, 2013

A picture is always worth at least a thousand words, and in the open source world as well as the freeware world, there are many excellent graphics and photo management tools that you can start using immediately. Whether you want to produce splashy graphical documents, enhance graphics on a blog or web site, create eye-catching logos, or more, check out our freshly updated collection of free applications and guides for working with photos and graphics here.

Drawing, Painting and More. If you're in search of an open source  illustration tool that can compete with Adobe Illustrator and is increasingly used by designers for effects, logos and still graphics, give Inkscape a try. We've provided resources for beginners in this post. Bethany Hiitola is the author of a popular book on Inkscape that is used by many web designers, and she has a very useful tutorial on the progam posted at the Packt site. It covers how vector graphics program works, walks through the many essential tools that Inkscape provides and more. It's a good first start if you're new to the program.

Open Source Photo Management. Gallery is an open source, web-based photo management and album organizer application available for Linux and Windows. It's recently out in a Beta 2 release of Version 3.0. Licensed under the GPL, Gallery makes it easy to blend photo management into a web site or blog. There is a Gallery Remote client available for it that lets you upload new sets of photos on-the-fly, and Gallery is available in over 20 languages.

Blender University. This site collects a a huge arsenal of tutorials you can use to get started with Blender, one of the most popular free, open source 3D animation and graphics applications, for Windows, the Mac and Linux. You can learn how to create a great looking logo, how to execute special effects, and more. Blender has been used to produce striking full-length animated films and is worth getting to know if you haven't tried it. You can also watch great, free videos on Blender here, with step-by-step project instructions.

On-The-Fly Image Editing. IrfanView is one of my main image editors that I reach for, even though I have Photoshop. It loads in an instant, and has a very rich set of tools, including mutlipage TIF support, support for multiple animated GIFs, and you can choose to use a bunch of useful plug-ins. The application isn't open source. It's freeware, but the developers improve it every year and the plug-in community works like an open source community. It's very fast to launch, does great batch image processing, and you may get things done much faster in it than in more bloated graphics applications.

A Free Book on GIMP? In our post "6 Ways to Get Much More Out of GIMP" we collected a number of excellent resources for the powerful, free, open source GIMP graphics application, available for Windows, the Mac and Linux. You'll find a complete, free online book on GIMP, tips on getting plug-ins and more. Also check out Tom's Hardware's collection of tips and tricks for GIMP.

 Mac Users Can Leverage Free GIMP Tools. If you're a Mac user who works with graphics, you may very well already use GIMP. Nevertheless, there are many free resources that you can leverage to boost your effectiveness with the application. Check this post for numerous examples. 

Smarter Flickr Sessions. Are you a Linux user who frequently works with images in Flickr? Flickr can often be very slow, and has very limited uploading tools. Check out Kristin's roundup of top uploading applications for Flickr here.

Flexible Freeware. Paint.net is one of the most beloved freeware offerings for Windows. I know many bloggers and site administrators who swear by it. It shines at image and photo editing, with very flexible pallettes of tools. It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a growing online community provides tutorials and plug-ins for it.

Need a Desktop Publisher? Scribus is a top, free open source desktop publishing application available for Windows, Mac OS/X and Linux. It's useful for PDF creation, and has most professional publishing features found in proprietary products such as InDesign. Linux.com has a nice step-by-step tutorial up on how to create booklets with Scribus. Lisa Hoover also covered some of the best features in Scribus here.

Draw it for Me. Are you looking for free clip art to incorporate with documents, web pages, and desktop publishing materials? Open Clip Art has an archive of user-contributed art that you can feel comfortable using for free.

For Splashy Web Sites. Along the same lines, if you're looking for good graphical templates for web pages, two good places to start are Open Source Web Designs and Open Designs. These sites house thousands of graphical templates, most of them XHTML/CSS-based, that you can use for free.

Editing and Organizing. Lisa did a good roundup on five applications focused on image editing and organizing photos here.  Among the applications she took note of, Shotwell is a very popular photo organizer for the GNOME desktop environment. Meanwhile, DigiKam is a rich application with slick editing tools, and you can use it to organize photo libraries.

 Cooliris. Among photo junkies, Cooliris is almost universally lauded. Kristin covered the Linux version here. Cooliris is now a mobile app designed to enhance your photo and video browsing experience. You can use it to panoramically soar through photo collections, and it works great for navigating photo and video collections found online.

Shooting the Panorama. For working with very splashy and impressive panoramic digital photos, Hugin is hard to beat. It's a free, open source photo panorama stitcher that lets you assemble collections of overlapping pictures into one big image, including a full 360° panoramic view. Check out Lisa's post on it here. At the bottom of this post, check out the cool panoramic photo of the Golden Gate Bridge from Hugin's site.