The problem is that, one, these services charge money for something you can do for free, and, two, that this software doesn't work very well. When you put in an image, it will give you a chart, yes. That chart will also probably include fifteen to thirty colors; this is fine for an image with subtle gradations, but if you're like me, you prefer to work with bold, simple images.
This is a tutorial on how to do just that. This tutorial works best for images like silhouettes, logos, and other bold images that are only a few colors. It's also great for doing stuff for kids and people who are just learning to stitch. Best of all, it's totally free, and it only takes ten or fifteen minutes per chart!
You will need:
-An image file, preferably at least 600x600px
-KG-Chart, a free program which you can download here: http://www.iktsoft.net/kgchart-en/kgchart/
KG-Chart is a really great program for creating cross stitch patterns. There's a learning curve, mostly because there's no documentation, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy and powerful. Unfortunately, it's only available for Windows Vista/7/8, but I suspect these instructions could transfer to programs with similar commands.
Step 1: Importing and viewing the image
When you import your image, you should see an image that is a complete mess. Now, we know what this image is supposed to look like. It's supposed to be two colors. How do we make it two colors without painstakingly going through and changing every stitch?
Step 2: Delete colors
So we can use delete colors to get rid of a lot of extraneous colors around the edges. But what about when we have a bigger mixture of colors or want to change a color entirely?
Step 3: Change colors
Once again, right click on the unwanted color. This time click Change Color. This will pull up a dialog where you can select the color you'd like to change the stitches to. To use this more quickly, type in the color number/letters you want the stitches to have in the search box and hit enter. Do this for all the colors you want to be the same, and pretty soon, you'll be left with just two colors.
Step 4: Clean, fill, and finish
While we're here, there are two more tricks that you can do with Floodfill and Change Color. Our image here is presently designed to be a solid square of stitches. Well, maybe we don't want to sit there and stitch all that. Right click with the Floodfill tool to remove the black patches, then change the white ones to a gray of your choice, and presto! An image you can use on dark cloth (and cheat).
Those are just some basic steps in making charts from images. I've shown a simple two-color image here, but with a little practice and attentiveness, you can do more. Love to see what you come up with!