Best Free All-In-One Image Design Tools

 
Introduction

There are a lot of design programs out there that specialize on one individual feature. For most of us though, we just need a single program that can cover most (if not all) of our needs.

This section covers these programs. With any of these free applications, you get a tool covering a wide range of features (from screen capture, color picker to an image editor among other things). As most features are covered under one roof, you won't need to install and run too many programs (for every different tool that you need). It's simply up to you to decide which of these applications have the right combination of features for your needs.

As with most all-in-one applications though, the following are designed to meet the needs of most average users who prefer one program that can cover as many basic functions as possible. If you need more advanced features (within a specific design tool), you might want to check out other recommended software products in the articles found under the Related Products and Links section.

 
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Go to details...  Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide

 
Discussion

PicPick With its ease of use and having the largest selection of tools available, PicPick tops this category.

It has possibly the most flexible screen capture tool (capturing different areas such as full-screen, active window, freehand capture) in the freeware arena. It also includes an image editing tool that handles basic editing needs from color correction (brightness/contrast, hue saturation) to effects (blurring/sharpening). In addition, the software also includes a color picker, screen ruler, magnifier, protractor, crosshair and a whiteboard.

Despite topping the category, I do wish the image editor had a bit of flexibility with its interface. The toolbar is locked up top and can't be moved to the right or left side of the screen. This flexibility comes in handy when you're editing images. I personally find it easier to switch tools when the toolbar is on the right or left side of the image. It's a bit counter-intuitive when you have to continually go to the top of the screen to switch tools or effects.

In the end though, PicPick goes above and beyond any software covered in this category. With the largest selection of tools for the needs of most average users and having tools that do a good enough job in their respective tasks, this software deserves the spot at the top.

 

FastStone CaptureAs the name suggests, FastStone Capture includes a screen capture tool but also includes a color picker, image editor and screen magnifier.

There isn't much of a difference between the features of FastStone Capture and PicPick. It has similar screen capture features (full screen, active window, window, freehand), color picker features (windowed preview and RGB and hex number information) and image editor capabilities (color correction to effects). The program even mimics PicPick's interface (located in the tray icon). Though FastStone Capture's tools do a decent enough job for the tasks required, the tools are better implemented (through design and functionality) within PicPick.

One thing I did like about the program was their image editor. It was movable and allowed for hotkeys. Despite this, the program doesn't really add to the features found within PicPick's image editor (brightness/contrast, hue saturation, sharpen/blur, crop and resize).

My biggest concern though is with the magnifier tool. Compared to PicPick and VMN Toolbox, the tool doesn't include a windowed magnifier. Instead, the whole screen is magnified when you press your mouse button. In order to keep the magnification active, you have to keep pressing your mouse button (once you let go, the magnification disappears). I would have preferred it if the program allowed users the option of using this full screen magnification or (like in others) a windowed magnification.

Overall, the program contained a decent selection of tools. However since these tools are already found (and better implemented) within PicPick's package, FastStone Capture ranks a distant second in this category.

 
Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 
Quick Selection Guide

PicPick
5
 
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to use, has the most selections of tools (screen capture, color picker, image editor, screen ruler, magnifier, protractor, crosshair, whiteboard) and also the most flexible and user-friendly screen capture tool.
Comes bundled with unwanted components such as toolbars and may attempt to change your system settings. Use caution when installing to avoid these items, or a third party application like the free version of WinPatrol which will issue a warning and allow such changes to be blocked.
http://picpick.wiziple.net/
3.2.6
10.74 MB
Free for private or educational use only
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8

Many other languages available.
v3.2.6 released 22 June, 2013

FastStone Capture
3.5
 
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Decent selection of tools (screen capture, color picker, image editor, screen magnifier), Interface for image editor is more user-friendly compared to PicPick
Magnifier magnifies full-screen and is not active unless mouse button is pressed down
5.3 (Last Free Version)
1.3 MB
Free for private use only
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 98SE, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 7

The last free version is no more supported by the developer.

 
Editor

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Tags

design tools, web design, all-in-one, screen capture, color picker, pixel ruler, virtual ruler, screen magnifier, cross-hair, protractor, screen whiteboard, image editor, sticky notes, free, freeware

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Comments

by Rob (not verified) on 20. September 2012 - 16:39  (99514)

I have used Faststone Capture 5.3 for years, however, I'm currently using Faststone Capture and PicPick side by side for capturing and annotating screen shots of dialogue boxes. The 'Torn Edge' and automatic/default drop shadow effects still give Faststone the edge for me, the effects make the images and annotations stand out. But the ribbon interface, multiple tabs, single capture and editor window (two separate windows in FSC) have PicPick a very close second. Oh, and the magnifier in FSC may be set to a smaller rectangle or circle in the settings dialogue, you do need to keep the mouse button pressed though.

by provost (not verified) on 31. July 2012 - 9:10  (96928)

I am looking for a collage maker and not sure which category my question goes in so I took a shot and put it here. Anyway, there are supposed to be collage makers that can take a folder of pictures and make the collage look like a design. The design I am looking for is an image of one of the pictures in the folder. Shape Collage has a free version that leaves a watermark and, sadly, the design does not end up looking like the wanted image at all. Facebook has apps that can make all your friends pictures look like a particular picture, usually a profile picture...but after searching all the apps on Facebook I could not find any web site to check further for a downloadable program to do the task. Is there such a collage maker available for download that can create the design I am seeking?
thanks

by blew1000 (not verified) on 28. November 2011 - 15:22  (84053)

I've used both FSCapture and PicPick, and currently use PicPick (no particular reason -- FSCapture is also good). My one concern is that PicPick's frequent updates are accompanied by my McAfee Site Advisor telling me that PicPick's website has received a malware rating. Is that just because of the BingBar add-in that you have to be careful to avoid while installing? Or is there something else to be worried about? Thanks.

by TapanVerma on 29. November 2011 - 3:34  (84080)

Could be bcoz of OpenCandy.

by Cal (not verified) on 6. August 2011 - 0:44  (76999)

I just started trying PicPick and will reserve judgement. However, be sure to not let the download install the evil Bing Toolbar. Do a Custom Install and read as you go along.

by MidnightCowboy on 4. August 2011 - 7:33  (76873)

As with any category that has recently been adopted, please give the new editor time to settle in and shape the review to how he wants it. The demands of our editing process are fairly intense for those not so accustomed, and it takes time to download and test new software. Duplicated comments promoting the same software are deleted as routine unless they contain useful information or suggestions.

by dray75 on 3. August 2011 - 23:04  (76855)

Ok update! The FastStone Capture is FREEWARE you just have to follow the link in the article and download it from there!

by GeorgeD (not verified) on 4. August 2011 - 2:33  (76859)

Just to be clear: FastStone Capture version 5.3 was the last freeware version, as seen at the link above as well as at the Last Freeware Version website http://www.321download.com/LastFreeware/ (page 4). The current version is 6.9 and is Shareware. v5.3 files are dated 2007. FWIW.

--George

by dray75 on 3. August 2011 - 22:57  (76853)

Ok! Everyone who has posted here, Listen up please! :) I am going to make a few changes to this category's items. I have just taken over as editor of it and I am going to see to it that only freeware is posted. (I am going to check into the FastStone Capture and if it is 'Shareware' I will remove it from the list, or rather add that to the article.
Thank you So much for your cooperation!

by sts (not verified) on 2. August 2011 - 22:12  (76793)

Please note that FastStone Capture is not freeware but shareware for any kind of use: private, educational or commercial. Please look at their site at . I don't think a 30 days-free-usage makes a freeware: I suggest to be respectful with developer/manufacturer and remove from this guide (ar any other guide or recommendation).

by Jojo Yee on 3. August 2011 - 5:32  (76804)

You're spot on Sts, the new version of FastStone Capture has turned into commercial software but the last free version is still available for use. See also this review article Best Free Screen Capture Utility.

by meanpt (not verified) on 22. June 2011 - 12:18  (74157)

... sorry, you missed Inkscape

by Anno (not verified) on 4. May 2011 - 21:06  (71426)

I only used VMN Toolbox because of the screen rulers. I needed a window to be in an exact size (800x600) for Fraps recording (didn't want to downsize later in a video editing software because changing a videosize afterwards can have bad quality effects on fine details and text... which can become hardly readable).

Apart for such things I wouldn't see a use for that program either.

by Anonymous on 24. June 2010 - 6:56  (52953)

IrfanView is being greatly overlooked here.

by Anonymous on 12. April 2010 - 9:49  (47485)

I prefer the layout and functionality of FastStone Capture over PicPick (the next best free alternative I've tried). FastStone Capture will at least attempt a scrolling window capture on anything that includes a scroll bar. In the vast majority of cases it is successful.

PicPick will only attempt a scrolling window capture on certain (seemingly predetermined) applications that it likes, which kinda sucks!

by Anupam on 17. February 2010 - 5:50  (43802)

Photobie can also be considered. Besides image editing, it has Gif animation, screen capture, image browser, photo template etc.

www.photobie.com

by tardis on 22. March 2010 - 17:52  (46013)

Photobie is interesting. It definitely has more features in terms of its image editing capabilities than the editors mentioned here. Its tools though seem to be more geared towards the editing side of things so I would actually put it under the digital editing category rather than here.

Thanks for the suggestion,
Tardis

by Anonymous on 9. January 2010 - 10:59  (40690)

The PicPick ruler can be lengthened (or shortened) by sliding the small cross hairs to the upper end of the ruler until the small cross hairs change to a double-ended arrow and then adjusting the length of the ruler as desired.

An even better feature of PicPick is the CrossHair which goes from top to bottom and side to side. Left clicking on the first point of interest sets the (x, y) coordinates to (0, 0). It's then very easy to determine the relative coordinates of any other point on the entire screen.

PicPick also has a protractor function which is relatively rare in drawing/measuring tool sets.

by tardis on 9. January 2010 - 13:50  (40696)

Thanks for the tip. I can't quite recall if the previous version I reviewed (2.1.2) could lengthen like that but nonetheless at least that particular concern is settled.

Definitely, out of all the products reviewed, PicPick has an amazing array of features. There are a few details that could use some improvement (the image editor for instance) but overall, it is a very powerful software (being free makes it even better!).

In terms of its ruler though, I personally prefer the ruler in VMN Toolbox. The automatic extension (to the full width of the screen) and the guidelines that follow just seem a bit natural for me. I am a person used to rulers and guidelines in software though so others may prefer PicPick's ruler (flexible with the ability to manually set the size and be moved around) or as you mentioned, its crosshair tool (where you can get an even more accurate measurement of any object).

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