Inexpensive image editing

Anthony Caruana
25 June, 2011
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If you’re into sharing images with friends, have a blog or are an artistic type, then you need to get your hands on some image-editing software. For many, that means a plunge into the mammothly functional and complex world of programs like Adobe Photoshop. However, there are some low-cost alternatives that deliver lots of bang for buck.

But first, some tips:

1 If you use iPhoto and want to email photos, it’s easy to resize images for sending by using the Share option in the bottom, right corner of the screen. Then you can choose what sort of resizing is best for the recipient and iPhoto does all the work.

2 If you’re planning to use a large image on the web, create a smaller version of your image. Upload both versions to your site. Make the small version the one people see but link it to the large version so that clicking on the thumbnail version displays the larger image. 3Remember that many people now access photos using their iPhone or iPad over 3G. That means that really huge files can take a long time to display. The popular JPG image format can be compressed significantly without sacrificing too much quality. So, play with the compression settings for JPGs as you might be able to reduce a file size by 75 percent or more without severely affecting image quality.


Picturesque (US$29.95) makes it easy to apply special effects to images. If you’d like to round the corners, add a reflection, alter the perspective and apply a coloured border, then Picturesque makes those tasks very straightforward.

We started with an image shot with a compact digital camera that was stored in iPhoto 11 (version 9.1.1). Picturesque can be set as your image editor in iPhoto’s settings, though we found it just as easy to drag-and-drop images from iPhoto to Picturesque.

When the image appears in Picturesque it’s placed in the centre of a background area that forms a new frame for the image. That border can be any colour you like – you can choose from a standard colour selection wheel – but altering the width of the border wasn’t possible.

All of the image editing options are very easy to apply. Click the effect button and a slider appears that made it easy to apply the effect. As you move the slider, the photo updates in real-time so you can see the result of your actions instantly.

If you’re after a quick and easy way to give your photos some pizazz Picturesque is a great option.


It’s tempting to see Pixelmator ($37 in Mac App Store) as a ‘lite’ version of Photoshop, but that would be selling it way short. Pixelmator is an image creation and manipulation tool that would satisfy the needs of many power users, while remaining easy enough for image- editing amateurs to use.

Once installed, Pixelmator displays the image you’re working on and a tool palette with a basic set of tools. However, if you’re looking at Pixelmator as an alternative to Photoshop then it’s worth noting that the tools don’t all work in the same way.

Our experience was that in most cases we could do the same sorts of things as we’d do in Photoshop, although Pixelmator made them easier.
Perhaps the most interesting arrow in Pixelmator’s quiver is its capacity for automation. As the name suggests, Pixelmator can be used in association with Apple’s Automator tool.

Launch Automator and you’ll find a bunch of new actions available. These can be used to add watermarks to images, crop, convert or apply effects quickly and easily.

The advantage of this is that the need to learn Adobe’s scripting language is negated as Automator is far simpler for non-programmers

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