What it comes to image editing, for either web or print, Photoshop is arguably the king of the roost. But let’s face it–Photoshop is darned expensive, and has a learning curve shaped like Mount Everest. Not to mention that you have to actually have it installed on the machine you’re working on. Unless you’re a professional designer, chances are good that you can get away with using one of the many free online tools that have appeared on the Web. Below are just a few to check out:
- Pixlr–has a fairly simple interface and yet includes more advanced functionality like layers and masks. Also has a neat browser extension you can install, called Grabber, that allows you to right-click a web image and have it open up automatically in Pixlr.
- Splashup–Allows for editing multiple images at once and integrates very well with photo sharing sites like Flickr, Picasa and Facebook. Advanced functionality is somewhat more limited than Pixlr.
- Picnik–Picnik has a free version and a premium version. It’s primarily a tool for editing photos,rather than creating anything from scratch. The free version may be enough for simple tasks such as resizing, rotating or removing redeye from existing photographs. One annoying thing about this tool is that it shows you options for unique features such as stickers, only to tell you that they are only available with the premium subscription if you try to use them.
- Aviary–This is a whole suite of tools (all of them have bird-related names) that are best suited for creating new images rather than photo editing. Tools include Phoenix (the base image editor), Raven (a vector editor) and even Myna, which is for editing audio. Up until a month ago, Aviary had a premium and a free version. Due to an influx of venture capital, they now offer all tools and feature for free.
- Photoshop.com–wait, what? Yes, it’s true; Photoshop itself has a free, online edition–but it’s only distantly related to the full package. It’s more of a pure photo editing and organizing tool than an image editor. You’ll need to sign up for a free account to upload your photos. It does allow you to import photos from other sharing sites (more even than Splashup) and it also does some video editing. It also has apps for both iPhone and Android.
What does this mean to me, Laura?
- Most image editors have similar interfaces, even if they don’t all have the same features. Learning to use one often means that using others will be simple. If you already know how to use full-scale programs like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, then all of these will likely be a walk in the proverbial park.
- Some of these have a limit on how much you can store on their servers. Photoshop.com, for example, has a 2 gig limit for free accounts (upgrading your account primarily gets you more storage for your photo albums, not more functionality).
Any web-based image editors you’re fond of (or not)? Let us know in the comments!