When it comes to software on a Mac, we live in great times with excellent applications that don’t cost a dime.
How about image editors? Is it true that you always get what you pay for?
To be completely fair, there are few challengers to Photoshop that don’t cost money.
On the other hand, the Mac has a handful of excellent image editors that are absolutely free.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of Mac utility applications to fill in the monetary void for those of us unwilling to sell our kids for a copy of Photoshop.
Take, for example, the LiveQuartz Image Editor. It’s simple to use, straightforward to understand, and free.
LiveQuartz runs on both older PPC Macs and new Intel Macs as a Universal Binary application.
What you get is a savvy image editor that uses Apple’s built-in Core Image filters (inside Mac OS X Tiger).
Simplcity is usually the order of the day for applications without a price tag, and so it is with LiveQuartz.
Remember the objective. Image editing. Drag an image into the LiveQuartz editing window. That creates a new layer.
Remember the tools. Layers on the left. Filters on the right. Tools on the top.
There’s barely a dozen tools to remember so confusion of which to use for what won’t be an issue (Photoshop, I’m looking at you!).
Most of the tools are instantly recognizable by Mac users. For example, an Eraser erases, the Hand moves an image, the Magnifying Glass zooms in and out.
By necessity, a few other tools are a bit more complex. There’s a Brush to allow you to paint over an image. There are a few Drawing and Gradient tools.
The deadly simle slider bar zooms in and out, but the cropping tool is overly complex (remember the price, remember the price…)
If you’ve never used a Mac graphic or image editing application, LiveQuartz is a good place to start. The tools are not cumbersome or over complex.
Layers and Filter management may take a few minutes to get your head around, but the results can be attractive and performed quickly.
I’m a new mommy and have plenty thousands of digital photos to show for it (not to mention more wrinkles, more tummy, and two crates of Pampers in the garage).
My favorite tools in LiveQuartz center around the Photo Retouching tab. These tools can make me look younger and smarter so relatives won’t know how I’m really feeling after yet another 3:00 AM feeding.
There’s something important to remember about these great Mac applications that don’t cost anything. Yes, they’re free. Yes, they’re somewhat limited.
For Mac users on a budget or with a desire to try image editing before upgrading to Photoshop Elements, LiveQuartz and others cannot be beat.
Do you image edit? What’s your tool of choice and why? What graphic or image application did you start on? Which one are you saving your money for?