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Edit photos for free online

October 9th, 2008 2 Comments

 Edit Photos Online for Free

You have just received a set of photos from your recent vacation. You know your friends are eager to see those pictures. You’re about to upload them to your Flickr photostream when, while browsing through the photos, a thought hit you: they need editing. But you’re in the office and your office computer does not have Adobe Photoshop installed. And even if there is, you know you’ll get lost simply trying to adjust contrast. So what will you do?

All you need is an online photo editor. With it, you would not need Photoshop to perform simple corrections or enhancements on your photos. These online photo editors allow you to perform the following basic functions:

·         Cropping

·         Adjusting brightness and contract

·         Sharpening

·         Blurring

·         Resizing

·         Creating effects like sepia and grayscale

·         Saving in multiple image formats

You have to take note though that since your photo editor is web-based, there may be limitations compared with standalone applications like Photoshop or Picasa Editor. But there are tools out there that give you almost everything you need. I’m going to present to you 3 of the most loved photo editors in the web today. And the best thing about them is that they are FREE.

If you use Flickr, you’re probably already familiar with Picnik. It’s Flickr’s completely integrated photo editing application. All you need to do is go to your Flickr photo, click the Edit Photo button to launch Picnik, and you’re set to play. Of course, if you don’t like to edit inside Flickr, it’s fine. Just sign up for free at the Picnik website. Then when you’re done editing, you can upload your photos to Flickr. Clever, eh?

Picnik is Flash-based. It is considered the fastest in the new breed of online photo editors and has the most intuitive user interface. It’s probably the best of the bunch. Thus, it is no surprise that its fan base grows with each day. For a handy set of Picnik Tutorials check out our previous blog posts.

While we love Picnik. It’s certainly not the only option available. 

Unlike Picnik, Phixr is developed using Ajax. As such, it has the potential of giving users complete editing satisfaction. The most attractive feature of Phixr is its ability to make artistic Polaroid snapshots and to insert comment bubbles and effects in your photographs. Also, you can directly upload your edited work to a lot of photo-sharing websites like Facebook, Flickr, and Picasaweb among others.

And just when you thought online photo editors cannot even come close to what Photoshop delivers, think again. Formerly known as Fauxto, SplashUp is an intricately designed application that closely resembles most features of Adobe Photoshop, including its look and feel. It is completely developed using Flash, and it is the first online tool to introduce a layered editing environment. As a bonus, you can save your unfinished work in the application’s own file format so you can continue editing later.

What are you waiting for? Explore these online photo editors and begin transforming your photos now.

Picnik Photo Editing – Part 4 – Using the edit tools

January 18th, 2008 2 Comments

The edit screen of the Picnik photo editing system gives you access to some of the standard features available in most editing programs (like black and white) However, options such as the ‘effects’ brush allow you to apply them in subtle and sometimes surprising ways.

The Edit Screen

An expanded version of the edit screen can be seen below:

Not all the features available in the edit screen are accessible to free members (many of them are premium customers only). However the following features can be accessed by everyone:

  1. Snow: Applies white snow-like particles across the image. The size and intensity of the particles can be adjusted with the fade button
  2. Black and White: Convert an image (or image part) into black and white
  3. Sepia: Applies sepia tones across the image
  4. Boost: Increases the saturation of colours in the image
  5. Soften: Softens the edges of the image
  6. Vignette: Feathers the borders (making them fade from solid to misty) and applies a back background
  7. Matte:  Feathers the borders without changing the border

Using the edit tools

If you click on an option on the left hand side of the edit screen you’ll see a screen similar to the picture below:

If we look at the labels:

1. Fades the effect. A value of 100% means that no change will apply to your image. A value of 0 % means that the effect will be applied at maximum

2. Clicking on the brush tool opens a second menu screen (as per below)

The brush tool allows you to remove the effect from a certain portion of the image. For instance – you can make a single colour item while the rest stays black and white.

Looking at the labelled section of the picture above:

1. Changes the effect of our brush. If we select original – the effect will be applied to the image when we use our brush (i.e. the painted section will become black and white.) If we select effect, our paint brush will remove the effect.

2. Alters the size of the brush. For painting large areas of an image use a larger brush, for fine work drop this right down.

3. Reverses the effect of the brush. For instance – with the black and white tool – it turns the black and white area back into colour.

Putting it into effect

Our test image can be seen below. We wanted to turn everything but the flower into black and white:

1. We clicked on the b/w palette – clicked on the brush icon and selected a large brush. We checked that we had selected ‘original’  in the brush palette. We roughly went over the flower (returning colour to the petals and leaves)

2. We then selected a much smaller brush and changed our selection from ‘original’ to ‘effect’. By painting around the edges of the fingers – we were now turning the coloured portions back into black and white.

As you can see, two minutes work with the black and white tool helped us create a stunning mixed colour shot!

Tomorrow: Our final Picnik masterclass

Make sure you check out the other parts of our Picnik tutorial series:


  • An introduction to Picnik
  • Absolute Beginners Guide to Picnik
  • Preparing your picture with Picnik
  • Picnik Advanced: Using the Exposure tools for tonal control




  • Picnik Photo Editing – Part 3 – Levels, Histograms and much more!

    January 17th, 2008 3 Comments

    While the Picnik photo editing software contains an array of easy-to-use tools for the casual photo editor, it also gives you access to a small selection of more powerful options. In Part 3 of this tutorial we will examine the levels tool in greater depth, providing some pictorial ‘before and after shots’ as illustration.

    Exposure Tools

    High-powered software like Adobe Photoshop have long given photographers the ability to finely tune the exposure of problematic photos. Picnik gives users the ability to replicate this function (albeit not completely) through the Exposure tool.

    From the main editing screen you simply click on:

    1) Edit

    2) Exposure

    3) Advanced

    and you will see the following screen:

    The Histogram in the picture shows the tonal range of your image. The left hand side graph represents the proportion of pixels in your image that are absolute black, while the right-hand side shows the proportion of pixels that are absolute white. Unless you are aiming for a particular artistic effect, the graph should be concentrated in the middle. 

     In looking at the above graph we can see that it shows that our source image will be very dark (as can be seen below in the picture)

    The advanced exposure menu gives us three ways of correcting this image.

    The Brightness button allows us to lower or decrease the overall brightness of the image. You can see how this effects our test image:

    When we darken the image by pushing the brightness button to the left hand side you can see that the tonal range of our image is concentrated around a narrow spectrum of absolute black – creating a very murky effect.

    In contrast, when we push the image towards the absolute white end – we end up with a picture lacking contrast and tonal depth.

    The brightness tool can be effective with an image that is only slightly – out of balance – however we would recommend taking a look at the highlight and shadows tool for more nuanced editing.

    The Highlights slider menu allows you to individually manipulate the white point of the image. You can see from the below image that it has increased the intensity of the existing white points (the faces) without really touching the surrounding shadows.



    The Shadows slider does the opposite – increasing the intensity of the black points while minimising the impact on the white points.

    You should also be able to see how changing each of the sliders impacts on the histogram for each image.

    Pulling it all together

    The easiest way to learn how to use the exposure tools is to practice! Try playing around with each slider, also looking at the affect in combination. It’s very hard to make a mistake (as you can always reset your values and start again)

    Our final copy of the our test image can be seen below:

    Tomorrow: Retouching faces and teeth using Picnik.

    Take a look at the other parts of the Picnik series:

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