Tools We Use: for making and managing graphics

Tools we use: Open scource tools we use at BFC Computing. Let us know if you'd like help moving to open source tools.
Tools we use

Graphics: the GIMP, Canva, and ImageMagick

GIMP: making your photos look better!

For those needing an all-purpose tool for editing and retouching photos, or converting images from one format to another, GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a great choice. GIMP is available for Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. It is released under GPLv3+ licenses, so it’s free to use.

I use it mostly for cropping and resizing images, for color-balancing my photos, or creating a graphic where I need to have multiple layers for composing the final image, including text layers. GIMP does do a lot more than that. You can even write your own plugins to do graphics manipulation. There are certainly people who will need more than GIMP can handle, but it’s great for those who aren’t professional graphics editors.

Canva, an online design tool to help you create beautiful design

Tools We Use: before-and-after shots of the blog logo made with Canva.
Tools We Use: Canva before-and-after

A new graphics find for me is It usually takes me forever to get a decent-looking layout for designs I want to print out or publish online. Canva has hundreds of beautiful templates in dozens of categories, from traditional formats like business cards, to modern formats like Instagram posts. You can modify the text, colors, and shapes of the templates provided to suit your needs and match your existing branding.

You can use Canva and and most of their templates for free, but you can also buy premium graphic elements for your designs, or pay for “pro” features. I’ve found no barriers in the free version so far to saving multiple designs on the site, and downloading them for use wherever and whenever I want. This a life-saver for me! The header for this “Tools We Use” series was made on Canva. Check out my before and after shot, as I changed the color of various elements of one of their banner templates and added our logo.

Image tools for scripting: ImageMagick (and exiftool)

BFC Computing can help you switch to Open Source source solutions for your organization's needs.
Switching To Open Source

One other image tool I use occasionally: ImageMagick. If you need to incorporate image manipulation into a script, this is a good tool for the job. For example, when BFC Computing was creating the site for our town’s Halloween tradition, we used ImageMagick to automatically rotate and/or scale the pictures that people emailed in to us. To put their pumpkin people on the town map, we used exiftool to check the images for latitude/longitude GPS data included.

Do you want help installing and learning how to use these or other open source software tools? Let me know how I can help. Reasonable rates for consulting and tutoring.

Bonnie Scott
BFC Computing, LLC