From the Editor: As a writer, you can bring a lot of value to clients when you understand how to edit, convert, and shrink images. Even better, you can charge extra fees for any add-on graphic design service you choose to offer. Whether you’re working on a website with graphics or assisting in stock-photo selection for a report, your insight on the content of a project can be a tremendous asset when it comes to selecting, editing, and formatting images. Enjoy Part I in our four-part series on expanding your knowledge of visual communication.
There is a lot to be said about the impact and power of visuals. No matter what kind of idea you are presenting, adding visuals will help you to get your ideas across in a better and more interesting way. Whether you are giving a business or school presentation or you are writing a blog post for your website, using images and visual aids will help you to not only get your point across better, but also to keep your audience’s attention.
Here are 50 excellent and completely free online applications that can be used to create stimulating visuals for anything, whether you are a freelance writer or blogger, teacher, student, or businessperson looking to spice up your ideas with some interesting eye candy.
Image creation tools
Modern technology has made it easier than ever for artists to get their ideas across. Here are some great free web applications that can help you to not only create images, but also present them creatively and get static ideas out in interesting and dynamic ways.
1. PiktoChart (http://piktochart.com) is one of the best online tools for creating infographics, which have been all the rage on blogs over the last several years. If you are looking for a way to present stats or somewhat boring information in a way that is interesting and exciting, you should look into creating infographics with PiktoChart.
2. Easel.ly (http://www.easel.ly/) is fairly similar to PiktoChart, but represents itself as a visual idea creator, not an infographic maker. Still, it’s a great tool to use to get your information into the form of a sleek and well-designed visual that will present your data in the best possible light and help you to get your ideas across more clearly.
3. Infogr.am (http://infogr.am/) is another online service that makes creating nifty charts and infographics easier than ever. Just select a template to start off with, input your data and customize it to get your original infographic that you will be able to share or embed just about anywhere.
4. Hohli Online Charts Builder (http://charts.hohli.com/) is a basic but still quality tool for making charts online. The tool is based on the Google charts API and lets you very easily tailor your charts to fit your personal needs.
5. Creately (http://creately.com/) is a web service for making all sorts of interesting flow charts and diagrams as visual aids. One excellent feature is that it allows you to work together with a team in real time on projects and collaborate on creating these visual supplements.
6. LucidChart (https://www.lucidchart.com/) is a great tool for professionals that either like to brainstorm visually or present their ideas that way. It’s a great service for creating detailed and dynamic diagrams, flow charts, mind maps and much more.
7. TimelineJS (http://timeline.verite.co/) is an online service that helps you tell a story chronologically in the best possible way. Using this tool, users can build timelines of events in order to better portray a passage or time visually.
8. Photo Collage (http://www.photocollage.net) is a web application that can be used to perform many simple tasks and create all kinds of things with photos. Make collages, create slideshows, put together animations and present for photos creatively as a group with this tool.
9. Photovisi (http://www.photovisi.com) is another tool for creating collages. It has a lot of options when it comes to picking the layout of your collage and customizing the way you include your photos into it.
10. Picaboo (http://www.picaboo.com) is a great tool for creating gifts for people. It’s a fantastic service for making photo books or putting together cards or calendars with your photos.
11. Cool Text (http://www.cooltext.com) is handy when you need to whip up some graphics quickly and you don’t have much experience with design programs like Adobe Photoshop. It’s a great free option for creating cool logos and font types for your projects or websites.
12. Funny.Pho.to (http://funny.pho.to/) is yet another tool for creating photo collages. This one is great because there are a variety of fun effects that can be added to these collages once you have put them together. Text can also be added to turn the collage into a greeting card.
13. Funnywow (http://www.funnywow.com) allows users to create funny and wacky images with lots of cool effects.
14. Fun Photo Box (http://funphotobox.com/) is another web application for creating funny and fun pictures. You can upload your own photos and then add all kinds of funny effects and art to them. It’s great for killing some time or making fun family photos to share with everyone.
15. Wordle ( http://www.wordle.net/ )is a tool for creating word clouds. Just input your words and pick a design that you are happy with.
16. TagCrowd (http://tagcrowd.com/) is another word cloud creator. It’s very simple, just input the text you want and a word cloud will be created.
17. DoppelMe (http://doppelme.com/) is a good tool if you are looking to make an avatar for yourself. You can make a drawn, cartoon version of yourself or anyone else with this tool.
18. Pinstamatic (http://pinstamatic.com/) is a tool that is great for people who love to use Pinterest. It is a fast and effective way to make great-looking Pinterest boards out of your favorite photos and share them with the community.
Web-based Image and Photo Editors
While not everybody is a great photographer or advanced Adobe Photoshop user, there are still ways to get great looking pictures online. If you are simply not skilled enough to use Photoshop or you do not have the money for it, you shouldn’t worry too much — there are plenty of free online applications that can help you do wonders with your photos.
19. LunaPic (http://www.lunapic.com) is a great photo editor if you are a social networking addict. It can edit pictures from Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr quickly in an integrated fashion. But it is not limited to these social networking sites — you can also upload pictures from your computer to edit.
20. Splashup (http://www.splashup.com) is another web photo editor that features a lot of options. You can not only edit images, but create new ones as well with it. There are many image-editing tools but also drawing tools if you want to start from scratch and let your creativity run wild.
21. Pixlr (http://www.pixlr.com) is yet another online photo editor that packs quite a punch. It can also create images from scratch or edit images you have uploaded either from your computer or from services like Facebook.
22. Pixenate (http://www.pixenate.com) is a photo editor that is incredibly easy to use. The best thing about many of these tools is that you don’t have to download anything to use them — you can edit your photos within the browser. And Pixenate is no exception; it gives you great photo-editing capabilities online without having to install anything.
23. FotoFlexer (http://www.fotoflexer.com) is another online photo editor that is more advanced than you would expect. It also allows users to upload from their computers or take photos directly from sites like Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, and of course, Facebook.
24. Free Online Photo Editor (http://www.freeonlinephotoeditor.com) is another great option for editing photos within your browser. You can also save the edited photos online at the site, share them, download the editing photos to your computer, or even print them directly.
25. Phixr (http://www.phixr.com) is a photo editor that is not as feature-filled as many of the others, but what it lacks in pyrotechnics it makes up for in ease of use.
26. Picmod (http://www.picmod.com) is another pretty basic site for photo editing and sharing.
27. BeFunky (http://www.befunky.com) is an interesting photo manipulation site. Not many people know that filter programs existed before Instagram. BeFunky can also give your pictures that vintage Polaroid look or make them look like pop art as well.
28. Glitter Photo (http://www.glitterphoto.net/) is basically what it sounds like — a photo editor that lets you add glitter on your images. Add trimmings, stamps bubbles, and other glittery designs to your pictures.
29. PicFont (http://www.picfont.com) is a fairly basic image editor that allows you to put text into your photos. It’s great for taking notes or for putting logos onto pictures.
30. ImageChef (http://www.imagechef.com) is pretty rudimentary, but it lets you put interesting and fun frames around your photos and create cover photos for your Facebook page if you are having problems getting the dimensions right on your own.
31. Gickr (http://gickr.com/) is a great web tool that lets you take a couple of still frames and turn them into an animated GIF.
32. PicMarkr (http://picmarkr.com/) If you want to protect your photos online from being used illegally, this is a great tool to use that allows you to watermark your images and protect them.
So you have a great new picture that is fantastically edited, but you are having trouble sending it now because of its size. This is something that a lot of people go through, because there are size limits on attachments when you are sending emails. If you really want to share your photos via email, then you need to decrease the size of the photos. Thankfully, there are plenty of handy online tools that can help you with that.
33. Resizr (http://www.resizr.com/) is a good, easy-to-use tool for resizing your photos and images. You can use it to not only make the photos smaller, but also crop them and rotate them as well.
34. Picresize (http://www.picresize.com) is another tool for resizing your pictures. You can also add some effects like grayscale or sharpen the clarity of the image too. It’s also great for batch resizing if you have a lot of photos you want to resize and you don’t want to resize them one at a time.
35. Resize Your Image (http://www.resizeyourimage.com/) is a very simple tool. Resizing can be done in three steps — all you have to do is upload the picture and then pick out the desired size and download it once it’s been resized.
36. TinyPNG (http://tinypng.org/) is one of the best sites to use if you want to reduce the size of your pictures but want to make sure the colors and quality of the photos remain unchanged.
Online Image Converters
Online format converters can be extremely convenient utilities. They let you convert between formats without having to install any software on your local machine. Let us take a look at some of the best free tools for changing image file formats.
There are also occasions in which you might want to, or have to, convert an image file into a different file format. Here are some of the best online applications for converting your image files without having to download and install any conversion software.
37. Picture2Life (http://www.picture2life.com/) is a web application that can take your static JPGs or BMPs and turn them into GIFs that move and are animated. You can make collages and then bring them to life with this tool. It works well with many different picture-heavy sites, including Facebook, WordPress, and ImageShack.
38. Image to PDF (http://www.pdfconverter.com/convert-to-pdf-online-free/) is a tool that does exactly what it says — converts your images to PDFs. The converted PDF will be sent directly to your email once the process is completed. This is also a good way to compress the size of your pictures before sharing them.
39. Photo2Text (http://photo2text.com/) is a tool that helps you to convert an image file into a text file, plain and simple.
40. Text-Image.com (http://www.text-image.com/convert/) is an image-to-HTML converter that allows you to freely get the HTML code for your images online.
41. Text2Mindmap (http://www.text2mindmap.com/) is yet another free web app that does exactly what it says — converts text to mind maps. Mind maps are great for organizing ideas and brainstorming or studying in a more visual manner.
42. Photo to Cartoon (http://cartoon.pho.to/) is a website that allows you to “cartoonize” your pictures. It takes your regular images and makes them look like cartoon drawings and can be a lot of fun.
43. Cartoonize (http://www.cartoonize.net) is a web tool that probably gives you the most accurate cartoon versions of your pictures. Try it out and have some fun turning yourself or your friends into comic book characters.
44. Picascii (http://www.picascii.com) is an online tool for creating ASCII art. Using this tool, you can convert image files into ASCII TEXT and HTML.
45. Share As Image (http://www.shareasimage.com) is a great tool for taking notes. Use it to highlight text found on any website and then convert this highlighted text into an image and save it for future reference or to share with others immediately via social media.
46. Map2Pic (http://www.map2pic.com/en/) is a great tool for map enthusiasts and travelers. If you don’t have Internet access when traveling, take screenshots ahead of time using Google Maps and then save the files so you can look at them and use them later.
47. Convert Hub (http://www.converthub.com/) Is a great image conversion tool. It converts image file types to other image file types and supports JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, and much more.
48. Image to Favicon.ico (http://www.prodraw.net/favicon/index.php) is a good tool to use if you need to convert an image into the *.ICO icon format. It’s a great tool when setting up a website or blog and creating icons for quick links to other sites and profiles.
49. Safe Mail (http://safemail.justlikeed.net/) is a pretty interesting tool and is good for bloggers that want to avoid receiving spam mail from bots. Just type in your email address and create an image of your address that you can post on your blog. This way, real visitors you want to email you can see the image of the address and send an email to it, but bots can’t register it, because it’s not written as text on your site.
50. Email2Image (http://email2image.com/Convert-Email-to-Image.aspx) is a tool that does the same thing as Safe Mail and is just as effective. It converts your email address into an image of the address, which you can post on your site and avoid spambots for good.
Cindy Pearson is a blogger at the PDF Converter Tips & Tricks Blog. This article is based on one of her posts: http://www.pdfconverter.com/resources/blog/