If you don’t have mad PhotoShop skillz or would rather not install new software – or all you need is a quick photo clean-up or a fancy effect on an image to jazz up your website, blog, or e-newsletter – here are three free online image editing tools you may want to get acquainted with.
All of these are web-based applications, so there’s nothing to download. Try them out with no commitment, and see which you prefer:
Aviary offers an astonishingly full-functioned suite of image editing tools, enough to meet the needs of even the most serious photo-artist.
Aviary recently announced that their full suite is now free for everyone to use, including the Phoenix image editor, effects editor, vector graphics editor, color palette tool, and Falcon, a new markup tool that lets you annotate an image (with or without Talon, a companion Firefox screen capture add-on).
At first look, Aviary tools can appear a bit much for those of us who found even Paint.NET’s learning curve a bit steep and just shake our heads at GIMP, but there are loads of tutorials to help you get the job done.
When you can set aside a bit of time to explore Aviary, do yourself a favor and do so – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you’ll get the hang of these powerful web-based tools.
Picnik is perhaps the most easy-to-use of the three online editors here, with all the basic functions without the “overwhelm” of a PhotoShop-style toolset. And you can easily grab your images from Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Picasa, or other sites where you might store photographs online.
The focus is on making it intuitive to find and use the tools you need – playing around will teach you all you need to know. The real strength here is in all the the frankly fun effects you can quickly add to your photographs, from wacky “stickers” to artsy colorizations, from a simple frame to classic vignette style.
Some of the more “advanced” image editing functions in Picnik – like layers and red-eye correction – are restricted to paid accounts ($24.95/year) but the free version is more than enough for most purposes.
(On an interesting side note, Picnik has just been acquired by Google, so we can expect to see new enhancements to the tool – integration with Google’s free blogging platform, Blogger.com, perhaps?)
I’d say that Pixlr falls somewhere in the middle between Aviary and Picnik, in terms of functions and the ease with which you can get up to speed – mostly because there are two different applications in the Pixlr kit.
Pixlr Express is a simple image editor that takes care of the quick basic functions like cropping, rotating, sharpening an image, and so on. Use this for the quickk jobs, or if you’re just getting your feet wet in photo editing.
Pixlr Editor is the heavyweight version with more of a PhotoShop type of look and functionality, complete with layers. Users of desktop photo editing applications will be familiar with the tools here:
And if you’re a Firefox user, check out the Pixlr Grabber add-on, similar to the Aviary add-on, that lets you make a screen capture (full page, visible screen, or an area you select), then save the image or edit it online with either Pixlr Editor or Express.
Those are my current picks – what’s your favorite free online image editor?