You don't have to be a computer genius to give your images that polished look, nor do you have to invest in expensive software such as Photoshop.
Instead, you can download a great program called XnView that enables you to add a host of effects to your pics without the software program bamboozling you. Oh yeah, it's also free.
Whether you're a novice or an expert, there's a great range of features within XnView that allows you to edit and organise your images in a relatively simple manner no matter what file format they are in as the program can support up to 400 different formats.
Downloading and Installing the Program
Though XnView is fairly easy to use the download and installation process can be a little confusing. Rather than there being just one version for Windows or Mac users to download, there are several different options.
You have the option to choose three editions: Minimal, Standard and Extended. If you want XnView without addons and plugins, select Minimal edition. If you want XnView with all addons and plugins included, select Extended. Standard edition comes with a few addons and plugins. In this guide I chose the extended edition (XnView Ext. Setup).
It's up to you what edition you choose, but most people would choose the Extended Edition, since you get all the extras you may need. The only reason why you should choose Minimal edition, is if you have very little free space on your computer.
What XnView Offers
XnView has a quick, user-friendly Explorer-like interface, and can be used to convert image files from one format to another. The program also has filter features and effects, which can be applied to your images. The program also supports many Photoshop plugins.
XnView can be used to view images in different formats, such as thumbnails, fullscreen, slideshow and comparison of images. The program also offers basic editing of images, such as resizing, rotating, cropping, and adjusting light, contrast and other photographic properties. There are also quite a few add-ons for XnView that can be downloaded.
Moreover, XnView can be used to create web pages, contact documents, photo albums, multiple editing at once, finding identical files and slideshow. XnView is quite flexible and can be adapted to individual needs.
Understanding the Basics
Once XnView is installed on your computer, the next step is to open the program and select the images you want to edit.
To do this you'll be given the option to select the folder on your computer where your images are stored. For example, normally in the picture folder. You can then click on the file and all the image in that file will be displayed in the central window. You will also see a toolbar located at the top, which will offer you some of the most popular functions. These include the ability to search files, print, convert, create a webpage and the ability to create a contact sheet.
For example, the ability to convert your image files to different formats in one go is a very popular option. To do this all you have to do is highlight all the images you want to convert in the central window and then select the "convert" button located on the toolbar. You can then choose from a massive list of file formats and choose the location where you want these to be saved on your computer. The process can take some time depending on number of files chosen and the power of your PC.
How to Edit Individual Images
To edit individual images all you have to do is double click on one of the images that are listed in the central window, once you've chosen your selected folder. After that, the image will be displayed in one big window with a host of options provided via the toolbar. One of the best and simplest options is to choose "adjust brightness/contrast/gamma/balance" icon. If you click on the little icon with the little arrow a drop menu will appear with the option to automatically adjust levels and contrast in one click.
If you want to give your images a special look, a good feature is "filter" located at the top. From there you can choose "effects" and choose from a list of effects you want to apply to your image. You'll be given a before and after window showing you the effect. If you're happy with it, simply put a box in the "apply to image" box and click okay.
Crop Your Images
Another good feature is the ability to crop your images, which basically means you can reduce the size of your image and remove unwanted subjects within it. You do this by holding down the left key on your touchpad or mouse which then allows you to drag a box over the chosen subject that you want to crop. Once you're happy with the size of the box you can click on the "crop" icon top on the top toolbar or right click and select "crop" from the menu.
Remove Red Eye
Unless you like people looking like they been possessed by the devil, another good feature is the ability to remove red eye, which is caused by the camera flash when when taking pictures in low light conditions. The process is exactly the same as when you crop an image. Simply hold down the left key on your touchpad or mouse and drag the box over the person's eyes and select remove "red eye" from the toolbar. Hopefully the person will no longer have red eyes or the unwanted effect will be dramatically reduced.
Saving and Exporting Your Finished Image
Once you've finished editing your image, you'll want to save and export the image to a folder on your computer. You do this by clicking on "file" in the top left-hand corner and select "export". Once you click on the export button, you'll be presented with a host of options, such as the ability to save your chosen image in several different formats and to reduce the file size (i.e. from 4 MB to 1 MB et cetera). Reducing the image file size will reduce its quality, but if you're planning on uploading this to the Internet or sending it via email, then a small file size is vital. Once you're happy with all the options, click on the "save" button to save it to your desired location on your PC.
Those are just some of the image editing features that XnView has to offer. Remember, there are plenty more for you to experiment with, and if you need any help, please visit the manufacturer's website for more information.