Best Free Plugins for Retouching WordPress Images

Whether you’re a successful photographer or have created a simple photo blog to captures your memories, there are some wonderful plugins out there to ensure your images look as beautiful as they are special.

In today’s Weekend WordPress Project, we’ll look at three free plugin solutions that work great out-of-the-box.

From sharpening your images and adjusting the hue, to adding cool effects and even creating a meme, these plugins add fun and extra function to your WordPress website.

Get ready to get creative.

  • ImageMagick Sharpen Resized Images

    ImageMagick Sharpen Resized Images plugin for WordPress

    In the photography world, sharpening your images after they have been resized is one of the most essential and key steps to editing your images professionally. Thanks to this plugin, you can quickly do this from within your WordPress dashboard.

    You can set default settings so that each image is sharpened as soon as it’s resized, when you’re adding to a post or page. And don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking: This plugin maintains the image crops you apply, including your image’s proportions.

    This is a wonderful plugin that does a wonderful job, and is easy to use — that is, once you install the imagick PHP module through shell access, if your hosting company doesn’t already have it installed. This can take some doing, but it’s certainly worth it. Your photos will look professional.

    Take a look at this example to give you an idea of how well this plugin works. Sure, it’s a little exaggerated, but it clearly demonstrates the power and versatility behind this plugin.

    This is an example of the sharpness you can add to your resized images with ImageMagick

    The best part of this plugin is that you can also add contrast to your images. This is definitely a free plugin you’re going to want to consider adding to your site, especially if you’re a photographer, or your blog is otherwise centered around your photos.

    This plugin will ensure your beautiful photos stay exactly that: Beautiful.

    Interested in ImageMagick Sharpen Resized Images?

  • POWr Photo Filter

    POWr Photo Filter plugin for WordPress

    If you’re looking to add simple image effects to your photos to quickly spruce them up and make them more interesting, then the Photo Filter plugin by POWr is a great choice. It isn’t robust with effects, but it has the most important ones.

    You can make adjustments to your photo point-by-point using a sliding bar in the plugin’s settings. You can edit the grey scale, sepia tone, darkness, contrast, brightness, and even the opacity, just to name a few.

    And if that’s not enough, there’s also options for a fade-in animation, captions, image re-sizing, and borders. It’s a free plugin that is added through a short code onto any page on your website.

    Once the shortcode is added and you view the page, you can edit an image by clicking the little settings icon that appears. You can see an example of what it looks like below:

    Access the settings through the button that appears on a page via shortcode

    When you click the button, a pop up window appears where you can edit your photo with the settings you prefer, then sign up for a free account to save it. Here’s an example of what this plugin can do.

    Before and after photo example of POWr Photo Filter

    On the left is the original image, and on the right is the image edited with this plugin. I’ve added a black border, and opted for the sepia tone look.

    This may not be an image you’d want to add to your site or blog, but it at least gets the idea across of the awesome settings this plugin features. You can simply brighten, and sharpen your image if you’d like. :)

    In the free version, a watermark is placed on your image of the plugin, which you can adjust, but you can get rid of this in the premium version, along with plugin support. Prices for this plugin start at $2.99 per month for one website. There are options for multiple licenses, however.

    Overall, this is a great plugin for quickly adding fairly good quality effects right in your WordPress site. It may not be Photoshop, but it’s a great tool nonetheless.

    Interested in POWr Photo Filter?

  • Aviary Photo Editor

    Aviary Photo Editor plugin for WordPress

    I’ve saved the best for last here. This plugin was by far the easiest to install and use, and it was also abundant with rich photo editing features.

    The only thing that threw me off for a few seconds was where the in-line pop-up would appear to edit my photos. Turns out you can edit them right in the media library.

    Enable the list view in the media manager to access the photo editor

    You just need to select the list view, which you can find on the top left corner, above the list of your files in the media library. When the list view is active, you will see a button appear.

    The edit button will appear at the right-end of each file item

    On the far right of each listed image in your library, you’ll see a button will appear titled “edit photo”. You just need to click on it to open the in line editor.

    Once you’re there you can edit your image’s sharpness, contrast, brightness, add filters, borders, and even correct red eye and blemishes. You can even do what I did in the example below, and create your own meme.

    Aviary Photo Editor example in the form of a meme

    On the right is the edited image which resulted with the use of this plugin. It’s not the best meme ever, but I think it gets the point across.

    I snapped the photo quickly one Hallowe’en passed when I was actually able to put a witch hat on my black cat for a few seconds. Needless to say, it inspired the caption since I know she loves me, but definitely not in this photo.

    I selectively colored my cat and myself using the “splash” tool. I also blurred the background with the blemish tool, believe it or not. Finally, I added some text, and was able to choose from quite a few fonts.

    All in all, I was thoroughly impressed. It’s not very surprising when you consider Aviary has joined with Adobe for this plugin. It’s still not Photoshop, but as you can see from the additional example below, it’s pretty fantastic.

    Brightening and gray scale photo example of Aviary Photo Editor

    I was able to brighten an otherwise incredibly dark photo, and add a gray scale effect, just for fun. It’s not perfect, but it’s an impressive transformation considering the quality of the original image on the left was certainly not very good, to say the least.

    This awesome plugin is free to use, and was actually built for a multisite installation, although single installations work just as well. It’s wonderful to use just on it’s own, but you can also add premium paid features, if you’d like, as well.

    Upgrading to add high resolution output, which is very impressive, costs a pretty hefty $120 / month, per network. It also comes with white labelling, too for a higher price tag of $275 / month, per network.

    Overall, this is a really great plugin with a myriad of useful features. It’s definitely worth a spin on your website or blog.

    Interested in Aviary Photo Editor?

Summing Up

These are great tools to help your images stand out and capture your readers’ attention. You can even use multiple ones at a time if you want to really make your photos pop.

These plugins are certainly not replacements for Photoshop, but they are strong contenders and certainly offer great value since they’ are free.

So have fun being creative!

Image credits: Hans van Eijsden Photography, and POWr. Icons made by Icomoon from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC BY 3.0