Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

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Albert Wiersch
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Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by Albert Wiersch » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:10 pm

I use Adobe Photoshop Elements v8 (PSE) as my primary image editing program, and it certainly has its annoyances, as did the previous versions. I especially like its "Save for Web" option, even though it can't seem to remember some settings like the image type, which I often have to reset every time I use the feature.

I was wondering what others use? What are comparable products that are recommended? I don't need (and can't use) anything as powerful (an expensive) as the full Photoshop... or is PSE still the best in its class, even with its problems and annoyances?

What do you use?

Thanks!
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Re: Best graphics program?

Post by Lou » Sun Aug 21, 2011 3:39 pm

I'm a step behind you using Adobe Photoshop Elements v7 (PSE). Yes there are some annoyances, sure get tired of saying no to their online offers, and the save file type sure could be remembered during a session.

On the other hand it sure does all I am able to do - or is that willing to do.
Every time I look around I don't see that much more for the money. "To photoshop" something has entered our language either because so many people use it or outstanding salesmanship.
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Re: Best graphics program?

Post by Albert Wiersch » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:22 pm

Lou wrote:I'm a step behind you using Adobe Photoshop Elements v7 (PSE). Yes there are some annoyances, sure get tired of saying no to their online offers, and the save file type sure could be remembered during a session.
It's the annoyances that bother me most. Sometimes the program seems to "lose its mind" in responding to what I'm trying to do.
Lou wrote:On the other hand it sure does all I am able to do - or is that willing to do.
Yes, it seems to do as much as I'd want it to do... but again, it's those "annoyances" and bugs... mostly, it seems, with the user interface.
Lou wrote:Every time I look around I don't see that much more for the money.
I'm fine with what I get for the $$$, except for the bugs. I don't think Adobe cares much about fixing the issues, except maybe in the next major release which one has to pay for... but it has been my experience that new releases often have their own issues which don't get patched/fixed.

I'll stick with PSE, and live with its annoying flaws, if that's the best there is for the money, but maybe there is something better? Anyway, I'm always looking! But I've used PSE for years because I haven't found anything better yet (but haven't really taken much time to do so).
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Re: Best graphics program?

Post by John Zeman » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:27 pm

I've been using the Photoshop since 1996, which is also when I started doing web sites. Once I got onto the Photoshop, which took a few years, I was quickly hooked and wouldn't want anything else even to this day.

Right now I'm using CS5. It has way more bells and whistles than I care about, but it'll do everything I want in regards to processing bitmap images.

I use Photoshop primarily for my web site work. For my digital photography I use Lightroom for the vast majority of my image processing, with a few images getting sent on to CS5 for finishing work.

I've never used Elements, if I were starting all over now I'd probably give that a hard look, but since I cut my teeth on the Photoshop, I've stayed with it. :D

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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by Albert Wiersch » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:16 am

I think Photoshop is too "rich" for my basic needs. :D

I did try GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/). I had some annoyances with that, as it put the toolbox on my far left monitor (all the way to the left) and some other controls on my right monitor (all the way to the right) and I couldn't find them at first since I was looking on my center monitor where the main application was. It was especially frustrating before I found the toolbox on the left. I use a lot of monitors and had my left monitor off. But with these annoyances (as compared to the ones that bother me in PSE), once you figure them out then it's not so much a problem anymore.

But the "dealbreaker" in GIMP for me may be the lack of a "Save for Web" option. I find that feature extremely useful for what I use PSE for. It looks like there may be some plug-ins to support that feature but I haven't tried them yet and I'm not sure if I want to.
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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by jonz » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:14 am

Well, I'm using P/S Elements (version 4). I don't use it that much, so I never bothered to upgrade again. It takes forever to load, but I use it for quick fixes (underwater photos) and to make a background transparent for the web.

I've used Picture Window (http://www.dl-c.com) for a bunch of years. It is now at version 5.0. It is a great program and reasonably priced. There is a support forum, documentation and I have also gotten support emails.

I also use Fireworks, but that is version 4. I think it morphed into Dreamweaver or CS, but I didn't need to spend the $ for more complications.

HTH - Bea

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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by MikeGale » Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:28 pm

Not a direct answer. I don't think there is a one size fits all.

Over the years I've used a lot of tools. (I can't even remember all of them.) In general I've never found anything that suits me enough that it feels like a comfortable glove.

Among those things have been PSE, Photoshop, Image Composer, that magical line art tool in Flash, PSP, Paint.NET, Vue (from e-on), Terragen, Hugin, Blender, ani-GIF tools, custom image generators, tools I built that make images via SVG, Irfan... They can all do different bits of different jobs, but none ever satisfies enough to be used exclusively. On top of that the interfaces are different, some or really quirky (in my view) and frankly many of them have design mistakes (again in my view) in how they handle layers, colour spaces, compression etc.

On saving for web I've never found an automated tool that is particularly good. I look at the image, try a couple of things (ususally no dither, usually big palettes (nowadays), if it's JPEG the most compression that I can visually tolerate...) and generally get a pretty good image. I still can't guess it first time every time. I still get cases where PNG or GIF is clearly the winner and I only found out because a hunch said try something else. So I'm no fan of automatic save algorithms.

Enough of the background. Recently I often find myself using a free tool that is pretty natural to use and tends to do a good job. That's Paint.NET. I think it started as a demonstration project to prove what .NET could do and simultaneously provide an alternative to whatever that native Windows paint program is. (Heck you can even write your own image flters and artistic effects. A few minutes to get started, I imagine it takes months or longer to become good at it though!)

I find it pretty easy to use, and get started, so it might be worth doing the only test that really counts. Give it a try and see whether it works for you.

It doesn't do everything but it might be the right tool for some jobs.

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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by Albert Wiersch » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:11 pm

MikeGale wrote:On saving for web I've never found an automated tool that is particularly good. I look at the image, try a couple of things (ususally no dither, usually big palettes (nowadays), if it's JPEG the most compression that I can visually tolerate...) and generally get a pretty good image. I still can't guess it first time every time. I still get cases where PNG or GIF is clearly the winner and I only found out because a hunch said try something else. So I'm no fan of automatic save algorithms.
It's not an "autosave" feature, at least not in PSE. It shows you the original and the "save for web" version of the file side-by-side and lets you change the file format (GIF, JPG, PNG, etc) and compression levels and compare the quality (against the original) and shows the file size so you can choose what "compromise" you like best. It's really very handy for web developers.
MikeGale wrote:Enough of the background. Recently I often find myself using a free tool that is pretty natural to use and tends to do a good job. That's Paint.NET.
I've heard of that but haven't tried it... I may do so... for now though, I'm probably just going to stick with PSE because of the 'Save for Web' feature and continue to put up with the quirks, bugs, and annoyances. Do you know if PAINT.NET has a "Save for Web" feature like I described above? I tried searching on their site and couldn't find anything that said that it did.

I may also try this plugin for GIMP that may offer something similar to a 'Save for Web' feature:
http://luci.criosweb.ro/riot/dll-version/
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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by MikeGale » Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:43 pm

Hi, thanks for that comment about save for web.

That's pretty much identical to what I use. A most valuable tool. (I tend to pan around the image to find areas that behave badly then optimise for them.)

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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by RSteinwand » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:53 am

Albert Wiersch wrote:Do you know if PAINT.NET has a "Save for Web" feature like I described above? I tried searching on their site and couldn't find anything that said that it did.
I'm a big fan of Paint.net and not of fan of the pricey Adobe alternatives.

I use a OptiPNG plugin for PNGs, WebPFiletype plugin to create webP images, along with other plugins for drop shadows.
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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by marcusqueen » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:11 am

I'm a big fan of Paint.net and not of fan of the pricey Adobe alternatives.

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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by YvesL » Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:57 pm

I have been using Photoshop since a very early version. I started with 3 I believe. I tried most alternatives over the years and unfortunately found none that could replace PS.

The one I liked best from the alternatives was Paint Shop Pro.
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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by RSteinwand » Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:48 pm

Paint.net keeps getting better. I've installed plugins to reduce the number of colors for png and jpg, save optimized jpgs and pngs and load PhotoShop files. I can't imagine ever needing an Adobe program unless I was a graphic designer working with it all day long.
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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by Albert Wiersch » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:51 pm

RSteinwand wrote:Paint.net keeps getting better. I've installed plugins to reduce the number of colors for png and jpg, save optimized jpgs and pngs and load PhotoShop files. I can't imagine ever needing an Adobe program unless I was a graphic designer working with it all day long.
Well I'm still using Photoshop Elements but I'm up to v14 now. No major complaints about it but I don't use it that often. I actually use ACDSee Ultimate 9 for quick editing like adjusting color, levels, cropping and resizing. I don't remember trying Paint.net or not. I may have but can't recall now.

As for reducing PNGs, I use this site: https://tinypng.com/

I wonder how it compares to your plugins? Can you run some of your PNGs through it and let me know how it works? I've been impressed with it and it is very easy to use.
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Re: Best graphics program? Photoshop Elements alternative?

Post by RSteinwand » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:49 pm

I use PngGauntlet after saving from Paint.net and usually Guantlet will strip a few more bytes. You can drag files onto it or browse for them, whichever is easiest: https://pnggauntlet.com/ (For some reason, the site seems to be down now, but the file can be downloaded from other sites too (like Major Geeks and other mirrors.)

I also like jpegMini, but that isn't free, but IISpeed can usually strip a few more bytes from jpgs, probably from changing to progressive encoding. http://www.jpegmini.com/
https://www.iispeed.com/services/image-optimizer

IISpeed is an IIS plugin that optimizes files on the fly, but I have it on my development PC so I have to refresh the page a few times, then right-click and "save as".

Have you considered mod-pagespeed? I assume you're running Apache.

I'll try a few of pngs with your site when I get a chance. I only work half a day tomorrow.
Rick

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