Forget Adobe CS2, Get GIMP Instead

When I awoke yesterday morning there was a rumor bouncing around the internet that Adobe was giving away Creative Suite 2. Well, according to Adrian Kingsley-Hughes from Forbes, all that speculation was unfounded. I hope there aren’t a lot of people upset about this turn of events. If folks are heartbroken, they shouldn’t be. Although Adobe makes killer graphics software, there’s a great alternative to Adobe’s product that works on all computer platforms.

GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software.


GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) does amazing work. This versatile application is powerful, has a consistently helpful community of users, and is FREE. In fact, GIMP has been free from the beginning. Rather than moping about Adobe CS2. Download and install GIMP and get started making and editing graphics with the satisfaction of knowing you can do it without spending a cent.

Sketchy Details

Drawing is a powerful tool for learning. Humans have harnessed the potential of graphic representations for millennia to communicate ideas. With the advent of interactive whiteboards and digital slates like those available from GTCOPromethean, and SMARTBoard, teachers and pupils still have the option of creating illustrations as a means of presenting, exploring, and refining ideas. Effective 21st century educators consistently model and facilitate the use of digital illustration to

  • engage pupils,
  • make learning relevant,
  • increase the efficiency and effectiveness of instruction, and
  • build a foundation for lifelong learning.

Employing the built-in features of the software that powers interactive whiteboards and digital slates is worthwhile. After all, each package allows users to create geometric figures with both ease and accuracy. That said, don’t allow the features of the program to confine illustrations to one computer in one classroom. Learners should be able to share drawings with audiences outside a classroom, school, and district. Think beyond the classroom computer to a web-based tool for drawing.


Check out Odosketch. It’s a Flash-powered drawing resource that’s been around since 2006, thanks to Odopod, a digital agency that works with a number of major brands. This bare-bones artist tablet and colors doesn’t create accurate geometric shapes. However, users don’t need an account to use Odosketch (although, registering for one makes it possible for artists to save their work). Visitors who want to draw need only mouse over the toolbar at the bottom of the canvas. Colors, brush strokes, and other options will appear. It’s a simple means of sketching quick or detailed pictures.

pic_07 By allowing pupils to use an interactive whiteboard or digital slate in conjunction with Odosketch, educators facilitate the kind of powerful communication skills explored in Dan Roam‘s primer for creating problem-solving pictures, The Back of the Napkin.

When You Need Art ASAP

I first wrote a post about BeFunky in July of 2008. Since that time BeFunky’s site has undergone a few changes. The site is even more impressive than the last time I saw it! For students and teachers who don’t have access to expensive or complicated graphics editing programs, BeFunky offers visitors a number of eye-catching effects. BeFunky‘s tools are free, require no registration to use, and allow visitors to apply their resulting graphics to coffee mugs, t-shirts, hats, and other items.


More Than Just Hype: Hypah

Sometimes, a useful resource pops up when an educator least expects it. There are a lot of tools that help teachers accentuate a concept. While casting about on the outer fringes of the internet it’s quite possible to chance upon an entertaining way to add a little pizazz to instructional content. Suppose there’s a Language Arts teacher who wants to enrich a vocabulary lesson. Instead of merely writing or speaking new vocabulary words, the instructor decides to display an image along with each new word. The teacher understands that her students will balk at a ho-hum PowerPoint slideshow. Therefore, she decides to use a few of the eye-catching effects at Hypah.

One of her vocabulary terms is the word hypnotic. To add meaning to the word, the teachers uses it in context.

The strange man caught my attention with his hypnotic gaze.

Next, the teacher uses morgueFile to locate and download a copyright free image that will help her convey the concept.

After some brief searching, she finds a graphic that evokes hypnotic eyes.

To increase the likelihood of capturing the attention of her students and make their interaction with the image more memorable, the teacher goes to Hypah where she can add a few special effects to the picture she’s obtained from morgueFile.

Once at Hypah, the teacher clicks on an image and is prompted to choose an picture that she wants to enhance.

The teacher selects her image and it is uploaded to Hypah. The teachers has a number of tools at her disposal that will add animated effects to her static image.

The teachers chooses a starbusrt effect for each eye in the picture.

She can set the color, size, and point count on the star.

To apply the effect, the teacher clicks on the tool and then clicks on the eye in the picture.

After she’s finished adding her chosen effects, the teacher clicks the DONE icon.

She’s prompted as to where the image can be accessed. Hypah gives her with a link to where the image is stored online. The teacher can download the image and use it offline.

She can also post her image on a blog or wiki using the image code provided.

The finished image is appropriate for the word and phrase it accompanies:

The strange man caught my attention with his hypnotic gaze.

Is this useful? Could this resource be helpful in the work you do? Or, is it overkill? How might your students respond to this kind of technique? Better yet, should students be encouraged to use resources such as Hypah to illustrate their vocabulary words?

Related links:

  • Check out other interesting effects at Flash-Gear.

Catch a Glimpse of Learning: Screenhunter

Words are great tools for learning so much so that there’s no denying that students should acquire knowledge and mastery of spelling and reading. However, images are just as valuable when it comes to conveying ideas. That’s why educators and pupils should get acquainted with an image capturing resource called Screenhunter. This nifty application does a bang-up job of capturing anything that appears on a computer screen. The old way of taking a screen shot on a PC called for users to press the “Print Screen” key on the keyboard. Next, users would stop and paste the screenshot into an image editing program where it would also have to cropped, resized, and saved.

This process was very time consuming. The use of Screenhunter streamlines the capturing and use of images. For teachers and students who need to use computer images in a slideshow and other documents, Screenhunter is veritably indispensable. It’s not hard to find and install the application. The steps for doing so are listed below.

First, visit the following link:


This box will appear.

Click on the SAVE FILE button.

An icon like this will appear on the desktop.

Double-click the icon and install the program. It’s mainly a matter of clicking a series of NEXT buttons.

When the following screen appears, stop and take a look.

Unless the Wisdom-soft toolbar is desired, UNCHECK the checked box.

If properly installed, the following screen should appear.

At this point, it’s possible to start using the program without doing much of anything else. Simply click the STAND BY button.

Note, sending the program into stand by mode keeps it running until needed. That’s important to remember as Screenhunter must be running if it’s to be used. New users often install the program, turn their PCs off, and later, when they restart their PCs, complain that it’s not working when they’ve neglected to crank it up. To locate the program, simply look under the START menu.

If the program is running, it can be activated at any time by pressing the F6 key on the keyboard. When activated, users have the ability to use a crosshairs symbol (it looks like + sign) to select the portion of the computer screen to be captured. Unless the user specifies where captured images will be stored, they’ll be saved to the desktop.

To save screenshots in another location, users can click on the Screenhunter shortcut at the bottom right-hand portion of the screen to access the control panel (it looks like a little hand).

After the control panel appears, users can click on the TO button.

Next the user can click on the folder icon to browse to a suitable folder where screenshots can be saved.

By the way, all of the images used in this tutorial were created using Screenhunter.