Working with images is an inescapable part of running a successful business website: opt-in offers, product images, personal brand headshots, social media posts... images are everywhere.
So how can you save time and money designing and optimizing your images, without sinking hours into becoming a professional designer?
By cheating, of course!
And these 7 free online image tools will help you cheat your way towards stunning images to showcase your brand, product and blog — without breaking the bank.
You can start using them immediately to speed up your workflow, and create professional, enticing images for your audience.
By the way, we also have a post to help you find free images to use on your website.
Adobe Photoshop is an amazing program. So much so that its name is now synonymous with editing or enhancing digital images.
What’s not so amazing is the $250 USD price tag that only lasts 1 year.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an online alternative that packed most of the familiar features and UI of Photoshop?
Wouldn’t it be great if that was free?
The interface, tools, language and workflow give you the feeling of working with Photoshop, without the nagging feeling that someone just nicked your wallet.
Photopea fully supports layers, channels, paths, layer styles and adjustments, masks, and even uses the same hotkeys as Photoshop.
For most people, you probably won’t even realise you’re not using Photoshop after a while!
Once you’re ready to export your work, you can save it as any standard format (PNG, JPG, SVG etc.) or even as a fully layered Photoshop-compatible format (PSD or PSB).
Photopea also comes with tons of free-to-use stock images, thanks to its integration with PixaBay.com – just search for what you want, and drag it onto the canvas.
With the money you save from this, you can buy all the conversion-focused tools in Thrive Suite for a single price, and still have enough left over to treat yourself.
If you're not a natural designer, or you just prefer to put your time into other areas of your business, then Canva will become a firm favorite in your image creation toolbox.
Canva gives you a big head start with all kinds of online images:
- Social media graphics for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.
- YouTube Channel Art
- LinkedIn Banners
- Business stationary and letterheads
- Worksheets and certificates (perfect for course creators!)
- Brochures and ebooks (perfect for opt-in offers!)
...and we’re just scratching the surface here. Whatever you want to create, chances are that Canva has some gorgeous templates for you to customize and use on your business website.
Once you’ve chosen a starting template (yes, you can start with a blank one if you want), you’ll be able to customise every element – including the colors, text, images, and icons.
You can also browse Canva’s media element library to find the perfect photo or graphic to add to your image.
Note how some have a crown icon? Those will cost around $1 to use.
Of course, you’re welcome to stick to the free elements too, making it entirely possible to use Canva totally free.
Here’s a quick banner for the Thrive Themes Official Facebook Group that took me 2 minutes to customize in Canva...
Do you need to add a professional photo to your landing page, funnel or personal brand homepage?
Chances are you don’t want the background too, whether it’s your office chair, your hallway, or your messy kitchen.
Now you could spend half an hour in Photoshop, carefully cutting around the part you want to keep.
...or you could just let remove.bg do the work for you.
This handy tool automatically identifies and removes the background from photos.
I say “photo” and not “image”, because remove.bg is designed to work on real-life photographs taken with a camera... so people, cars, everyday objects.
Let’s see just how well remove.bg works.
Here’s a quick photo taken on my smartphone camera. I’ve chosen a neutral background, but there’s still the door, a radiator, and some typical shadows of my ears on the wall behind.
And here’s the result after using remove.bg to replace the background with transparency:
This is mightily impressive for a free, automatic tool!
Sometimes the tool doesn’t quite get it right, especially if your photo has a very busy background, or your hair is frizzy, but it usually does a pretty good job. You can use Photoshop or Photopea to finish the job if there’s just a few leftover artifacts.
It’s well worth giving remove.bg a go before you try to remove the background manually — it could save you a ton of time if you need a web-ready image for your website.
Don’t let the overzealous use of advertising banners fool you, ezGIF is a massive collection of helpful, free online tools to edit and optimize your images and videos.
Since we’re focusing on images only today, let’s look at what you can do with ezGIF...
First, ezGIF allows you to convert your images between the major file formats. It includes options to choose your level of compression to achieve a given file size or quality, and supports transparency where appropriate.
Second, ezGIF provides customizable image optimization tools so you can reduce the file size without losing too much visual quality.
Some formats support lossless optimization – a smaller file size with no loss of quality at all.
Third, and true to its name, ezGIF lets you do a host of amazing things with animated GIFs:
- Convert videos to animated GIFs
- Resize, rotate, crop, split and reverse animated GIFs
- Add effects like color filters, change the speed, censoring, and looping
- Add an overlay like a logo or watermark
- Add text to your animated GIFs
Properly optimizing images for the web requires some knowledge about file formats, compression types, dithering, and color palettes.
Ain’t no one got time for that!
If you’d prefer to optimize your images automatically, then Kraken is the tool for you.
Simply drag-and-drop your images into Kraken, and you can expect to reduce file sizes by around 50% with no noticeable loss of quality.
You can see that Kraken has reduced my images above by a whopping 76%, and I honestly can’t see any difference in visual fidelity. It does this by applying a complex optimization algorithm which I like to think of as ‘magic’.
See for yourself with the image comparison below...
Before optimizing with Kraken
After optimizing with Kraken
38KB ... saving 65%!
You can use Kraken for free on images smaller than 1MB, so it’s perfect for optimizing 90% of web graphics.
They also offer a great WordPress plugin that lets you optimize each image in your media library. You can optimize 100MB of images before you need to pay (and the maximum size is increased to 32MB), so again it’s great for small websites or just to test the service.
Given the huge impact that large images have on your page load speed and potentially SEO performance, there really is no reason not to use Kraken before uploading images to your WordPress site.
Muzli’s Color Palette Generator is a neat color pairing tool that helps you lock down a color scheme for your brand materials in minutes.
Maintaining a consistent color scheme for your website and social media platforms makes it much easier for customers to recognize your business in an instance.
But if you don’t have design experience, or any knowledge of color theory, you’ll find it hard to find the right set of colors.
In one compact overview, Muzli’s Palette Generator shows you different color palettes based on color theory AND how those colors could be deployed on an example user interface.
You can also test these colors out on your posters, banners, mock-ups, and landing pages, by saving each color's individual code and applying it in your design tool. This is what the code looks like:
Once you've go your code, you can search for it in a tool like Canva, or even Photoshop, like this:
With this tool, you don't have to waste time coming up with the right colors for your designs. Simply use the palettes you've generated, or create new ones, to keep your visual content fresh and appealing.
Another good thing about this tool? You don't need an account to access it or download a palette, making it super easy to jump in, generate a color scheme, and hop right out.
Stop the press!
All you have to do is pick your main brand color and Smart Color Technology automatically creates a professional color palette to go with it so you can focus on getting your business set right up.
With this tool, you can create a professional website, with stunning landing pages to match.
Check out these great landing pages templates to see what picking the right colors for your brand can do for your website. They're all included as part of Thrive Suite.
Do you want to build the layout of your landing pages and funnels quickly without getting distracted trying to find the perfect images?
Want to avoid bloating your WordPress media library with temporary placeholder images?
Then you’ll love this tool...
Placeholder.com allows you to instantly create images using just a URL!
Simply add the URL to the image field in the Thrive Visual Editor, like this...
If you want to add text, just use this...
By default, the placeholder image is light grey and the text is slightly darker. If you prefer to use a different set of colors (perhaps to contrast better as you build your page), you can add the color hex codes just after the dimensions...
Now I know it’s hard to get excited about rectangles, but the ability to instantly create images with just a URL can really speed up your design workflow. It means less time spent faffing around looking for images, uploading them, and deleting them later.
If you need to add a particular image format to test your design, you’ll find that placeholder.com supports GIF, JPG, PNG and even WEBP extensions, as well as forcing HTTP or HTTPS. You won’t need to use this in 99% of cases, but it’s handy if you have a specific need.
Share Your Best Free Image Tools
So now you have 7 free online tools to help you create amazing images for your website!
You could bookmark each one, but it’s probably easier to just bookmark this page now using Ctrl+D (or ⌘+D if you’re on a Mac). Plus, we’d love to see you here again in the comments.
Speaking of comments...
Do you use any free online tools to design images for your business?
Share them below for everyone to discover.