Are you one of those people who doesn’t need the full-blown power (and cost) of an application like Photoshop, but would still like to have access to photo and image editing tools without all of the fuss? Well, you’ve come to the right blog post. Here are five editors that will help you make enhancements to existing photos, allow you to create unique images, and let you have fun all in an online environment without the need to download anything. All of the tools listed below are free as of this writing. Some offer premium editions to enable enhanced features, but general access and the basic features are free!
I’ve also rated the following online programs on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. The ratings are based on overall impression, ease of use, and available features.
1) Sumo Paint
I have to say, after trying all of these tools out, this was my favorite. It was quick to load after I clicked on the “Try Online” option (you can also scroll down to the bottom of the page to access the editor). Sumo offers an upgrade to their Sumo Pro version for only $4/month. The upgrade offers all features from all Sumo Apps and access to the offline version of Sumo Paint and future apps. Some other upgraded paid features include high quality image files for cloud storage and dedicated technical support.
I only tried out the free version and was impressed right away. It has basic drawing tools and a decent range of photo editing options, filters and effects. If you are familiar with Photoshop, then the user interface will be easy for you to understand and work with. You can create a masterpiece from scratch (as you can see in my lovely abstract above), and enhance it with layers of text, shapes, brush effects and loads of other fun stuff. You can also upload and enhance an existing photo file and save the final product as a png, jpg or a layered sumo file so you can edit it later.
The editor does run using Flash, so you must have the flash plugin installed to use this freebie. It does not currently offer a free mobile app version.
Overall Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Pixlr is a great online tool. As soon as you hit the page, you’re able to get right to work. The program prompts you to create a new image or open an existing image from your own computer, or from one of several online options. Pixlr Editor also offers a mobile version available for free to use on phones and tablets! The layout of this tool is very similar to Sumo Paint, except that it has more enhancements available right out of the gate and for free. Once you have edited your photo or created your original artwork you can save it as a jpg, png, bmp, tiff or pxj (layered pixlr) file. There are plenty of adjustments available to manage color, hue and brightness along with options such as sepia, posterize and “old photo” modifications. Filters to help enhance your photo or picture with special effects give it a true Photoshop-feel. Even though I enjoyed the ease of the Sumo Paint interface a bit better than this one, Pixrl Editor received a higher overall score because it offered exceptional features and more ways to save your final artwork. Pixlr requires Flash if you are using the website version, but it also offers native apps for download on mobile devices.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
What can I say? PicMonkey is just plain cute! When you arrive, you can select one of four options: edit an existing photo, touchup a photo, create an original design, or design a photo collage with pictures from your computer, Dropbox, OneDrive or Facebook account. Though the emphasis is on photos, you can also create original artwork here. You can even design a perfectly sized Facebook cover.
PicMonkey offers some really neat doodles, geometric options, textures, frames and effects.
Though many of the options require the Royal Upgrade, (for as low as $2.75/mo) allowing you an ads-free experience along with all of the primo effects, the basic editor gives you enough options and flexibility to get some creative work done. I would not say this is as advanced as Pixlr or Sumo Paint, but it does offer some built-in options that are just too much fun to pass up!
PicMonkey also uses Flash and does not currently offer a free mobile app version.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0
Even though this post is about getting away from the costly Photoshop option, Adobe does offer a free basic online editor. The editor is very primitive and only allows for jpg file imports. You can access the online editor by selecting Tools > Online Express Editor. Once you’ve uploaded your picture you can do some basic modifications to your photo like crop, rotate and auto-enhance. There are some other enhancements and effects available, and when you are done editing you can save your work back to your own computer. The Photoshop Express option also requires Flash, but if you are working on an iOS device they do offer a free app download. If you are looking for a simple online photo editor, this will do the job. I gave this online tool the lowest rating of the five because of the limited options available.
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5.0
Ribbet is another pretty nifty option. With Ribbet you can enhance one of your own photos, use one of their images, or start off with a blank slate. It offers some added features beyond basic editing. You can also create a grid collage, shape collage or even a holiday card. A premium version of Ribbet is available for 29.95/yr which will unlock all of the features and allow you full access. If you register for free you can upload up to five photos at a time. If you don’t register, you can still use the software but can only upload one photo at a time. Many of the templates for the holiday card option are available only in the premium version. The blank slate option also is limited in the free version, but at least it was available. You can add some text and basic stickers, but I didn’t see much else to do in the free version. If you upload a photo, however, a variety of effects and enhancements await. You can save your own uploaded updated photo as a jpg only. If you create an original image or use one of their images to edit you have the option to save as jpg or png. The one thing I really liked about Ribbet is that the interface is bright and easy to read.
Ribbet also requires Flash, and does not currently offer an app version of their software.
Overall rating: 3.0 out of 5.0
Do you have a favorite, or another that wasn’t mentioned here? Let me know what works for you. I’d love to hear from you!