This one was going to be especially difficult right from the get go. Finding online image editors as a replacement, preferably free, for the awesome Photoshop CS picture and image editor software just didn’t look like a challenge the web could win. The Making the Switch to a Chromebook series of articles I’m writing, simulating a Chromebook experience in the Chrome Browser, was about to get tough.
I jumped into it by asking the Google about online image editors. The sheer number of tools Google came up with was downright frightening. Unfortunately I hadn’t much of a choice so I CTRL+ Left clicked the results one by one and checked them all out. Well, the first five pages at least. A lot of it was total junk or just not what I was looking for. I wasn’t looking for some fun loving add stars to your birthday pictures site. I wanted a worthy online replacement for Photoshop. And you know what, I think I found three apps that are just that.
update: Aviary has decided not to directly focus on the consumer side of their business anymore, and is therefore no longer available. Here’s an excerpt from there blog explaining the move: “we have officially closed the advanced suite of Flash tools (previously located at advanced.aviary.com) in order to focus on our new company direction powering the photo experience in 3rd party apps.”
Aviary was a suite of powerful creative applications that ran directly in your browser. You can find the
Chrome app here. It’s image editor was among the best I’ve seen. One nice differentiating thing about Aviary was that it added a social element to the experience, which you noticed right away on how your account was set up. You could share your creations with your community on Facebook or Twitter for example and you could also “discover” what others had created with Aviary. You didn’t have to learn how all the features and tricks worked by yourself. Aviary offered great support on how to use the editor with tutorials which are available on the site. I wish them all the best with their future endeavors.
In Pixlr’s own words they are the most popular image editor on the web. And yes, when you’re used to Gimp or Photoshop you will feel right at home with the Pixlr Chrome app. It has many features you normally get in a desktop application. Such as a toolbar, menubar and of to the right a Navigator, Layers and History panel. Just the way you like it. And on top of that the speed and ease of editing are stunningly good. That combination of the many features, ease of use and speed makes Pixlr a strong candidate to become your favorite online editor.
Last but definitively not least is the number three best online image editor, Sumo Paint. A very complete online equivalent of Photoshop. It offers all the great features like a wide mix of layer effects and blending modes, filters for all kinds of effects and of course a full and complete left hand Toolbar with the tools you use most. In addition to the basic free transform tool, Sumo Paint features warp and distort transform modes. Unlike the common transform tool, you can stretch an image in any direction freely. Amazing stuff.
Sumo Paint offers a Pro version that gives you a couple more, truly amazing features and the ability to install Sumo locally on your Windows, Mac or Linux machine. But honestly, that last part doesn’t excite me that much since I’m doing the opposite by moving everything online. Nevertheless, it might come in handy for those of use using the Chromebook outdoors, but also have a full fledged PC at home for example.
Conclusion to date
I must admit, the outcome of this search for a Photoshop replacement did surprise me a bit. I truly didn’t think it was possible to do good image editing online. For free at that. With that challenge out of the way I can say with complete conviction that it is totally possible to move your image editing online. And because of that I can continue with my Making the switch to a Chromebook series. But before I tell you what I’ll be looking at next time I do want to share with you the two runner ups.
The list could have been longer you see. For a while there I had the title at ‘Five Best Image Editors’. The two services that didn’t make the cut were iPiccy and Adobe Photoshop Express. iPiccy looked real nice and has easy access to it’s many features. But it didn’t give me the smooth and professional results I got with the top three and it had a child like feel to it that I personally don’t like. Do check it out though, maybe you get more out of it then I. Adobe seems to be competing with it’s paid products and that gives me an uneasy feeling of being sold to. On top of that I could only upload JPEG’s which is a real shortcoming.
Next time I’ll take a good look at all the ways you can code online. For that challenge to be successful I need to be able to work on my website’s CSS and write PHP, C++ and maybe HTML5 online. It would be nice if I could find some kind of sandbox or service that offers that option where you can trial run your code.
I would love it if you leave a comment, preferably a nice one, telling me what you think of online image editors. Maybe you have tips to share with us, I’d like to know.
Have fun Chroming and until next time!