5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop for Designing your Book Cover

8-pixlrIf you enjoyed our post about word processing tools from a few months ago specifically because it was full of cheaper programs you can use if you can’t afford Microsoft Office, then you might want to sit down: new copies of Adobe Photoshop, the image editing tool that many graphic designers use, can cost anywhere from $600 to $900. If you’re writing a book that has a lot of illustrations or images in it then it might be useful to just go ahead and buy Photoshop. However, if you’re just looking to make a mock-up cover or create some graphics for your website and don’t want to shell out almost $1000 to make it happen, then you should check out some of these free programs. They all work on both Mac and Windows computers — and, more importantly, they’re all free to use!
pa1It’s name might sound politically incorrect, but no worries: GIMP actually stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. This open source software has a customizable interface so you can program it to display the tools you use the most, and it can also save your work to a wide range of formats. There is a bit of a learning curve to using it effectively, but once you get the hang of it you can actually do more with GIMP than you can with Photoshop in some regards!
2. Splashup
image250This is a browser-based image editor that can be used to share images across Facebook, Picasa, and Flickr, which is great for the more media savvy authors among us! Like Photoshop, it supports multiple layers of drawing in one image, which makes it much easier to move aspects of a cover image around.
3. Pixlr
pixlr-editor-screenshotAnother web based editor, this has not been around as long as Splashup but does a lot of the same things, including image sharing and separate layer editing. You can also use this editor to open up .PSD photoshop files, so it’s great for editing already existing graphics.
4. Pinta
ss4-800Don’t you wish all image editors could be as simple to use as Microsoft Paint? Pinta is what you’re looking for, then! Think of it as Paint and Photoshop’s user-friendly offspring that allows for multiple layer editing but doesn’t overwhelm you with tools.
5. Adobe Photoshop Express
If you plan on eventually getting Photoshop and want to familiarize yourself with Adobe’s editing model, or if you enjoy being able to edit on the go with your iphone or Android, then this app is for you. There are some paid functions within the app that go for a few dollars each, but downloading and using the app overall is totally free.
Let us know in the comments what your favorite image editor is, or if you have any questions about designing your book. Next week we’ll list some of the best places to get stock exchange images to use in your cover, so check back!