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Welcome to my search for the best online photo editors. As we all know, Picnik.com is closing down. And if your like me you were left wondering, what will I do for an alternative? While many would argue (and I wouldn’t disagree) Photoshop is the best, lets face it, for some of us that isn’t an option. And sometimes your just looking for a quick and easy way to enhance your photos.

Read Part Two: Best Online Photo Editor Series – Pixlr-O-Matic, Pixlr, Pixlr Express, Photobucket

To make it easier for you, I did an extensive search and tracked down more than a handful of photo editors worth shouting about. There are many, many options out there. I will list my top picks and my experience with them in this series of posts. Rather than judge one photo editor against another, this will help you judge them based on your experience levels and what you are looking for.

My Experience:
I’m an intermediate photo editor user. I’m familiar with what most editing functions and tools do, although have not mastered or tried all of them i.e. I cannot seamlessly put Angelina Jolie’s head on a mermaids body while it rides a dragon, ok? Lets get that straight. I havent learn those skills yet, but I know enough to get by.

To make this a fair review I:

  • Selected a general list of criteria that you might use to judge what you are looking for, and judged each editor accordingly.
  • Spent a minimum of one hour exploring the features of each editor. You’re welcome.

Le List:
Online or Download: Is it available via download or online?
User: Beginner, intermediate or advanced. Who is it good for?
Freebie or Subscription: Is it free? Does it offer paid premium features?
15 minute rule: If you knew very little, what could you do in 15 minutes?
Feature love: Any standout features?
Filters: Wide range of filters? Customisable or preset?
Worth Shouting About: Anything fun or awesome I should mention?
Linked sites: Can you link to Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket, etc?
App:If I love it enough, is there an app to match?
My take: My final impressions, what you might like to know.
Look Mummy, look what I did!: Some photo edits attempted by me.


Online or Download: Download
User: All users. This is best for intermediate/advanced users. Beginners may find this more of a headache to start with, but it’s straight forward to learn with the help of tutorials.
Freebie or Subscription: Free
15 minute rule: Chances are a beginner will accomplish very little in that time. Following a tutorial might help. If you’re looking for a quick fix then this might not be for you. Advanced users will know enough of the general functions to do what they need to.
Feature love: What’s not to love. This has more capabilities and features than you can poke a stick at, just check online for how-to’s.
Filters: I counted around 100 ready to go, preset filters in the menu. These are not like what you’d be used to at Picnik however.
Worth Shouting About: Just about everything, actually. Check out the very first Gif I ever created using GIMP, below.
Linked sites: No. This is a downloadable program and does not give you the option to directly link to other websites.
Apps: Yes. I wish I knew more about this to be able to review it more but a quick Google search reveals there is a portable app available. I have not tried it.
My take: I give GIMP hands down 10/10. It’s not a quick fix and takes a bit of learning, but well worth the trouble.
It is not as fancy ‘looking’ as other image editor programs, but make no mistake it can do so much more than Picnik could. It can be frustrating to use at first for beginners, hey even I hated it at first. But if you’re looking for Photoshop type capabilities without the price tag, this is for you.
Take the time to learn the basics and you will then be free to create anything you can imagine.There are countless tutorials available online and on Youtube for those wanting to get their foot in the door. Check out a quick features rundown at Gimp.

Look Mummy, look what I did!: To show its awesomeness, I created a Gif image from scratch. I simply followed the first tutorial I came across. Creating the layers took me about 30 mins, the actual animation took less than 10 minutes to figure out.

Aviary Phoenix
(Full Website – http://advanced.aviary.com/)

Online or Download: Online
User: All users. This might not be a beginners cup of tea with all its advanced tools, but anyone can learn. Intermediate to advanced users will find this has everything you need.
Freebie or Subscribe: Free Willy!
15 Minute rule: With a little general knowledge about photo editing – layers, magic wand, selection, etc – a beginner could navigate around to edit a photo relatively easily. If you’re not farmiliar with these tools, you would be limited. There is no obvious “Press Here To Create Instant Awesomeness” buttons.
Feature love: This type of interface reminds me a little of GIMP, with all the basic tools and a lot of options. You could achieve great things with this editor.
Filters: On first inspection there didn’t appear to be many filters, but then I discovered the ‘Filter Layer in Peacock’ option which takes you to a wide range of filter options. In fact, the Effects Editor can be opened as a suite on its own.
Worth Shouting About: Besides the capabilities of the image editor itself, Aviary has an entire suite full of tools to give you what you need. You will find, Screen Capture, Music Creator, Audio Editor, Vector Editor, Image Markup, Effects Editor, Swatch Editor. Yup. That many. I’m excited too.
Linked Sites: Flickr, Picasa, Facebook.
Apps: Yes, an online app. You can edit your Facebook photos as shown in the screenshot below from my Facebook. Just search Aviary Photo Editor on Facebook. How many times can I fit Facebook into one paragraph? Facebook. Five.

My Take: This gets 10/10 from me. Just focusing on the editor alone, this is a great option that will give you what you need to create amazing photos and so much more. Admittedly I was a little lost trying to experiment with the editor, but that’s not a bad thing.
It’s not as straight forward as other editors, but well worth it if you take the time to learn the basics. If you doubt the brilliant things this is capable of, check out some Aviary creations. Picnik who?

(If you get stuck downloading your image to your computer like I did check here.)

Look Mummy, look what I did!: Best of friends, my two eldest sons. The effects here are nothing special, Black & White, I just love this photo in its simplicity.

Photoshop Express

Online or Download: Online
User: Beginner, maybe intermediate. This is a very simple online photo editor that will do all the basics for you. There are no advanced features to be found.
Freebie or Subscription: Free as a bird.
15 minute rule: A beginner could quickly edit and save more than a handful of photos. It’s an incredibly simple process and the layout makes it relatively easy to figure it out in no time.
Feature love: The easy one-button fixes. This editor takes out all the guess-work for you and gives you a few options to choose. Also, simply hovering your mouse over an option will select it for you. It’s a quick and lazy way to go back and forth to see which effect you like the best.
Filters: There are 15 effects and adjustments, and roughly each of those gives you different of levels on intensity.
Worth Shouting About: A personal favourite trick, it can make up for where your camera lacks with a few super simple mouse clicks. The white balance for example, will give you a few options to get that colour right if your camera just won’t behave. There is also the option to sign up to keep an online upload library at your fingertips.
Linked sites: Once you’re done with your image there’s the option to share it with Photoshop.com, Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket and Flickr.
App: Yes. Look for Photoshop Express in iTunes or Android Market.
My take: This is a good photo editor. I have used it from time to time when I just want a super quick way to touch up colour or tweak a photo. Overall if you’re looking for user-friendly, quick edits this is a great option for you. I also have the app on my iPhone and use it occasionally as well. I use it to saturate more colour into photos or fix exposure.

Look Mummy, look what I did!:Two minute photo edit, quick and easy. Original photo and Pop Color effect.

Original Image Source

Pic Monkey

Online or Download: Online
User: Beginner/Intermediate. This is very user-friendly and straightforward to use, but lacks in feature depth for advanced users.
15 minute rule: Beginners could edit a bunch of photos, no fuss. It’s as simple as clicking options to apply or undo effects. Save when your done. Easy.
Feature love: There isn’t one particular feature that stands out to me.
Filters: There are a good range of filters for instant effects. I count 36 preset filters. These are also adjustable.
Worth Shouting About: If you miss the easy touch up and filters of Picnik you will like this. Teeth whiten, airbrush, eye brightener. All your favourites are there.
Linked sites: No.
App: No
My take: This is the closest ‘clone’ to Picnik I have come across in my search (so far). And from what I read, former Picnik staffers have been involved in its creation so that makes a lot of sense. It is nowhere near as in-depth as Picnik but mirrors a lot of your favourite features. And from what I see there is extras to come soon – collages and more.
The down side is some of the filters have the PicMonkey logo stamped in the corner which is annoying. Future option for paid premium features later on perhaps? Overall this is a great photo editor if you looking for variety and speed. It is fool-proof editing and its speediest.

Look Mummy, look what I did!: I took a photo of my favourite earrings, and simply increased saturation and applied the Cross Process filter.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions I’d be more than glad to help out as much as I can. I have a list of almost 30 photo editors to experiment with all for you! Part 2 of the Best Photo Editors series coming soon…

Read Part Two: Best Online Photo Editor Series – Pixlr-O-Matic, Pixlr, Pixlr Express, Photobucket