8 Helpful UX Design Tools – Image Manipulation and Choosing Color

Posted 6/30/2014 8:00 AM by Michael Nelson

In part one I discussed the UX design tools I like to use when drafting ideas, wire framing, and prototyping. As a UX designer however, sometimes one must dive into the world of image editing and manipulation to produce work for a project. Here I have provided a brief list of three wonderful tools I like to use for image editing and choosing colors.

1. Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

In almost every project a UX designer works on, at some point an image or graphic will have to be edited to fit the needs of the design. For editing photos, I like to use GIMP. GIMP is a free program where you can edit and create images. What I like about GIMP is that the interface is fairly intuitive and as an inexperienced graphic artist, I can create the images I need for the given project I am working on. GIMP however, does not stack up equally to Photoshop. GIMP does not include all of the graphical editing options Photoshop offers, and the end quality of the same graphic made in GIMP and Photoshop will look better coming from Photoshop. This would be a major issue for graphic designers, but for most UX designer purposes, GIMP will get the job done efficiently (and for free). Even though GIMP is the quick and dirty version of Photoshop, remember that you can still produce great quality images from GIMP to suite your wire framing/design needs.

2. Adobe Photoshop

When it comes to editing and creating images, nothing beats Photoshop. Photoshop is the industry standard for graphical manipulation. This program is a complete package and has everything a designer would need to edit a photo and more. In fact, many people not only use Photoshop for photos but also for creating wire frames and high fidelity prototypes of designs. The potential negative aspect of Photoshop’s inner workings (which is also a positive) is that there are so many features. This can be very intimidating at first as a new comer trying to learn the program. Fortunately, Adobe provides tons of tutorial videos on how to use the different features of Photoshop, giving new users an easy way to pick up and learn the different aspects of Photoshop. The main downside to Photoshop is the expensive price tag. For many people and businesses, Photoshop is out of their price range or a major investment, making it difficult to come by. Recently however, Adobe has made it a little easier to get your hand on a copy of Photoshop by having a monthly subscription fee (for one year). Overall, if you need a program to edit and manipulate images and have the resources to acquire it, Photoshop is the best there is.

3. Adobe Kuler

One of the challenges in high fidelity design choices is choosing the right colors to include in your design. Adobe Kuler is an amazing and simple free tool designed for selecting the right color combinations. In Adobe Kuler, you start by selecting the color rule you are looking for (complementary, analogous, triad, etc…). Kuler then allows you to choose different colors (by RGB or HEX code or color wheel) and then fills in the other matching colors based on the rule you have selected. An added bonus to Kuler is that you can save the color themes you create and then access them from any location through your adobe account. Being an individual who has a tough time picking the right matching colors, this tool is a life saver as it is incredibly easy and fast to use. Not only does this tool save me time and effort, but it is also free! When it comes to getting the right colors for your design, save yourself some time and use Adobe Kuler.

Previous Reading -> Part I - Tools for Wire Framing and Prototyping