Sunday, March 2, 2014

Creative Image Creation Roundup, Part 2: The One-Trick Ponies

Creative Image Ideas: Pho.to sample
Yes, that is Tom Cruise taking a selfie with a photo of me.
See how much fun image creation can be? 
In addition to the workhorses I talked about in my previous post (items #1-11), there are specialty programs that might be a better fit for your art project. If you don't need all the bells and whistles, or get distracted by too many options, check some of these out. 

For example, if you just want an inspiring quote about writing, there are a bevy of places to get that done. If you just want to slap a quote from your book on a beautiful photo (but don't have any beautiful photos), that's easy, too. I pointed out whether each site requires a login, since I'm biased towards the the ones that don't. I can't even remember my own phone number most days, let alone a billion usernames and passwords. 

Now go forth, experiment, and have fun!  

Use this site to make sharable quotes with pretty backgrounds. I've used this one a fair amount for work. It's great for reaching a younger audience because they have pics of celebrities you can shamelessly use to promote your own work. I've made Taylor Swift and One Direction graphics that are, if nothing else, eye-catching. Basically, you pick from a huge variety of background images, slap on your text, add a filter (if you want), and right click to save that puppy. All your images are saved to your username, but you have the option of keeping them private if you don't want them displayed in a public gallery. This is also a fantastic place to find the kind of background images that hipster edit memes make fun of. If you're into that sort of thing. 

Login required? Yes 

Image Creation Ideas: LivLuvCreate
Bonus! You can submit your OneDirection fanfic here, too.
(Please tell me you don't have OneDirection fanfic.) 

This is solely to help you kick ass at Pinterest. It helps you pin things other than pictures, which sounds weird, but can actually be helpful. You can pin quotes, stuff from Spotify, a Tweet, etc. For writers, the easiest thing to do is to make a quote, and grab a great line from your book. To do that, all you do is paste your quote into a blank box, add an author name, and apply the style you like best from their scrollbar. No muss, no fuss. When you're done, just hit "Pin." If you want to grab the image to use elsewhere than Pinterest, you have to copy it and paste it into another photo editor.

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: Pinstamatic
Pinstamatic deserves attention just for the beauty of their home page design.

When I typed this into Google, it asked me, "Did you mean pinworms?" No, Google, I didn't mean pinworms, and freakin' a, what the hell is a pinworm? Anyhoo. This is a quote-image-making site. You can upload an image of your own, or use one of their pre-supplied backgrounds. You choose your theme, click on the sample text, and update it with your own. Easy, breezy, beautiful, Cover Girl. 

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: Pinwords
Pinwords: simple yet effective. 

15. Quozio
This is another quote-making site. Just enter your quote, and add the author. Click "Go," and scroll through a bunch of pre-formatted backgrounds and font choices at the top of the window. You can't customize the font, size, or background, but it's an incredibly fast way to get something on paper that you can post if you're pressed for time. Most of the backgrounds are solid color, but there are also some generic forests, trees, leaves, flowers, cloudy days, rain puddles, footprints, and the like for all your inspirational quotation needs. Right-click on your image to save it, or use their "Pin It," or "Send" buttons.

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: Quozio
Quozio requires you to enter a quote before checking out
the available backgrounds and styling options.

16. Recite
Creative Image Ideas: Recite sample
See how cool Recite's
graphics turn out?
Another entry in the crowded quote-making site field. Here's the thing: this one's styled a hell of a lot better than most of the others. It produces much better graphics, to the point where my cover artist asked me who did the artwork you see at right. That's saying something, because this guy is a genius when it comes to covers, artwork, and styling in general. To get started, just type your quote in the blank box and click "Create." Preview your quote by scrolling through the image carousel below the blank box. When you hit one you like, click "Create." The only downside? You'll have a little bit of branding on your image. I didn't give a crap. The result was so good I didn't care. It's small and relatively unobtrusive. Throw them a bone. 

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: Recite
Recite shows you right away how your quote looks in all their templates.

Should be self-explanatory based on the title. The "Keep Calm" thing is wildly overdone, but if you're determined to jump on the bandwagon, this is how you do it.

Login required? Only if you want to keep your creation private

Image Creation Ideas: Keep Calm-o-Matic
Keep calm and try not to be a douchebag.

With this site, you can add text and filters to any image and share it to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+. You can grab photos right from Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, and then output them back to social. They want you to install it as a bookmarklet or browser add-on, which I'm not fond of doing. I'd rather grab the image and drag/copy/paste/save/re-upload to PicMonkey or BeFunky to avoid running yet another add-on to my browser (I've already got six; it's enough). You can click "try the app," but on my computer, it took forever to load and I just quit. Still, it can produce pretty things to post on the fly, if you need that sort of thing. They used to make you pay to create more than 3 images; now they don't. Score for cheapskates everywhere!

Login required? No, because you're using a browser-add-on

Image Creation Ideas: ShareasImage
ShareAsImage works as an extension in your Chrome browser. Because who
doesn't need yet another extension constantly running in the background.

Another quote-making site. You paste in your quote, add a name (author), click "Submit," and you'll go to the "Designing" phase. There are quite a few choices here in terms of backgrounds, from abstract to crystal-clear photos of landscapes and people. Your quote will always be available for everyone to see, however, so be aware before you release the Kraken. 

Login required? Not if you right click and save your image once it's done. Otherwise, it asks you to log in with Facebook.

Image Creation Ideas: Inspirably
Inspirably has a lot of high-quality photos you can use
as quote backgrounds, which is a big selling point.

Yet another quote-making site. Who is paying for all of these? That's what I want to know. Anyhoo, to use this one, you can either choose one of the pre-loaded quotations (Frederick the Great, Ninon de Lenclos, Federico Fellini, Marie Curie, etc.) or enter your own in the box on the right. Be sure to select "Viral Status" after you select your quote. The colors and backgrounds aren't wonderful here. They remind me of those concerts in the 60s and 70s where they squirted colored water onto an overhead projector so all the high-as-shit concertgoers had something to trip out on besides the bad fashion.

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: QuotesCover
QuotesCover asks you to choose your quote before seeing the
styling available. Most of it is abstract and kinda psychedelic.

21. BeHappy.me 
There's not much to do here except build your quote. Type it in, include the author (if you want), choose a font, and choose a background. It has "Behappy" branding on the bottom, and is pretty limited. Basically, you get a square with words in it. If that's what you want, awesome. You also have the option to download a Facebook cover from your quote, or submit your quote to be put on products for sale and earn 30% of any sales. 

Login required? Yes

Image Creation Ideas: BeHappy.me
This site is like those people who are always telling me to smile.
What if I want to make a quote about death, doom, plague, and everlasting damnation? 

This site lets you clip quotes you want to save or share from wherever you find them online. The downside? Your quote has to be online already. You can give them a font/background, and add them to your collection or share them on social media. You do have to login, either via Facebook, Twitter, or by creating a username/login. It's a drag, which is kind of the opposite of their slogan: "The easiest way to quote and share on the web."

Login required? Yes; login with Facebook or Twitter

Image Creation Ideas: Findings
Findings isn't the most stylish quote maker out there, but it gets the job done.

Like Findings, you can create a fast image for social media sharing. Unlike Findings, you can type your quote in if it's not on an existing web page. Include the author if you want (it's optional). You can add the bookmarklet to your bookmark bar if yours isn't, like mine, already as crowded as Imelda Marcos's shoe closet. It can post your quote to Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: ProQuoter
ProQuoter, styled with all the flair of a
Communist-bloc apartment building.

24. Roflbot
Fellow meme lovers, rejoice. This is where you make those images that have cats, dogs, rednecks, or babies captioned with those white block letters that display the creator's piquant wit. You can use a random picture they offer you, upload your own, or enter a URL to caption a picture that's already been posted somewhere else. Remember, folks: with great meme-making power comes the responsibility not to suck. Also to spell shit correctly. One time, I found the perfect Conway Twitty meme...just take a second to absorb the fact that I was in a situation that called for a Conway Twitty meme...but then I realized the meme said "Cownway" instead of "Conway." Now take a second second to absorb the fact that someone actually created a Conway Twitty meme. It's a strange world we live in.

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: Roflbot
I can haz meme.

25. Citrify  
This one is designed to help you spiff up your selfies. It can reduce red-eye and wrinkles, plus air-brush out your zits. You can also adjust things like hue, saturation, and brightness. There are some nifty filters here, including "Obamify" and "Hulk."  I'm not in the habit of taking selfies (no smartyphone), but if you are, check this one out.

Login required? No.

Image Creation Ideas: Citrify
Citrify: when bad photos happen to good people.
Or you're like me, and just plain unphotogenic.

26. Chisel 
Add text to photos, using either your own images or their library of almost 4,000 images. You can share directly to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and more. The biggest drawback is having to create an account. The good news is that some of their images are amazing, so it's worth the time to prowl through them and pick out some favorites. The landscapes are something else. My favorite quote in their home page background image: "Plan over bourbon. Execute over coffee." That kicks the shit out of the obligatory Lorde quotation that floats above and to the left of it.

Login required? Yes

Image Creation Ideas: Chisel
Is it just me, or does that kid to the left of the site name look really creepy?

27. Picfull
This site aims for simplicity. You upload a photo, slap a filter on it, and you're done. You can save it or share it as needed. If you don't have the time or energy to make many choices (I know I get exhausted by having a lot of options sometimes), this clean, easy-to-use site is a welcome alternative.

Login required? No

Image Creation Ideas: Picfull
Make your own Warhol-esque pics with Picfull's filters.

This site is for basic photo edits, as well as creating animated GIFs. In terms of photos, we're only talking the basics here: resize, crop, add text, or add borders. The cool thing you can do here is make a GIF. Plus, you know those sparkly glitter messages girls post to other girls' Facebook pages on their birthdays? Yeah, you make those here. You can add animated rain, flags, glitter, and more to any image. When you want to indulge your tacky side, this where you go. (Everyone has a tacky side. Don't deny it.)

Login required? No

Creative Image Ideas: Online Image Editor
So tell me Online Image Editor...what is it you do again?

Want more GIF magic? Step right up. You can start with either images or video. You can also download your GIF for sharing. If you create an account, you can store it for retrieval with each login. You'll have a small watermark on the image, but it's a free service, so that's fair game. If that bugs you, you can pay to upgrade your account. 

Login required? Optional

Creative Image Ideas: IMGflip
IMGflip. Because the world never has enough GIFs. If you pronounce
that as the plural of a peanut butter brand, I don't think we can be friends.

30. Gickr
Here's another GIF-making site. Upload photos, make GIFs, hilarity ensues. 10 photos max per GIF. Hope that doesn't cramp your style. 

Login required? No

Creative Image Ideas: Gickr
Gickr's interface is clean and easy to use. The only bad part? You have to say
"Gickr" if someone asks you where you made that butt-kicking GIF.

This site offers a fast, free way to add one or two simple things to your image: rounded corners, blurry edges, etc. There are 12 total tools you can use here: embossed text, wallpaper calendar, multiple picture wallpaper, rounded corners, stripe frame, printed photo, combine images, embossed line frame, line frame, blur edges, add text, and crop.

Login required? No

Creative Image Ideas: Quick Picture Tools
Quick Picture Tools is exactly what it sounds like.

32. Pho.to 
This site has several sub-sites that let you do different things with your photos: edit, enhance, makeup touch-ups, etc. The most unique features are down at the bottom of the screen: Funny.Pho.to and Cartoon.Pho.to. At Funny, you can put your face into a celebrity photo, which I find hilarious. Yes, that's Tom Cruise taking a selfie in front of a picture of me...just one example of the fun you can have on this site. You can also add text and remove the pho.to watermark on Tom's shirt, if you care. You can also put your face on magazine covers, which would be awesome if you're promoting a book (do it for yourself, or your character). There are also some creepy-as-hell "human-to-animal montages" that are probably going to give me nightmares. If you need to get over an ex, pop their picture into the creepy orangutan montage and there you go. 

Note: Occasionally, I got error messages when clicking to a new features...try again and it will probably work. It took me two tries to get the photo above created.

Login required? No

Creative Image Ideas: Pho.to
Pho.to has my everlasting gratitude for the celebrity photos you
can insert yourself into. I find these things hilarious.

If you ever wished you sparkled just like the vampires in Twilight, here's your chance. Add glittery effects to photos of you, your pets, your possessions, or anything that seems dull on its own. Play wit "night lights," "glitter," dappled light," "reflection," and "night and day." Pictures with high contrast turn out the best, according to their tips.

Login required? Yes

Creative Image Ideas: Glitterboo
So, as I was saying, the secret to achieving world peace is...oooh, shiny....

Okay, that's it for part 2. While I was researching, I found four more "workhorse" image manipulation sites that got added to the original post. Click here to go back and check them out.

So now that we've covered workhorse do-it-all photo editing sites and one-trick ponies, what's next? I'm so glad you asked. 

In part 3, I'll turn my attention to some of the more boring but necessary kinds of sites: one-step photo resizing, making icons, doing product placement shots, converting images to different formats, removing backgrounds, creating charts, and other stuff that used to take a crap-ton of time but can now be done in a couple clicks. 

Have you used any of these sites, or created a freakin' masterpiece? I'd love to hear about it. Here's a little something I made with LivLuvCreate for work:

Creative Image Creation: Example from LivLuvCreate

Don't let anyone tell you image marketing is boring. :)