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Apr 05

Free online alternatives to Photoshop – Part 1

The countdown is running for the launch of Adobe Creative Suite 5. In the last couple of days you saw a lot of sneak peek videos, for example the functionality of content-aware fill, which has caused a lot of discussion on social networks.
But in these days, I thought about some alternatives. Photoshop CS 4 has cost about $700, which are big bucks for me. Do I need all those functions for quickly editing an image? I’m definitely not a web designer, but sometimes I miss a great tool for editing an image. Trying GIMP or Paint.NET ends in a disaster, GIMP crushed more than once and Paint.NET isn’t able to change text. Furthermore, I’m not that type of user who likes to slow down a computer with unused software.
The following list shows some the first part of online alternatives, I’ve tested. All of them are free, just some wants you to sign up and all of them don’t have to be installed.
Appearance and Tools
At first I’ve tested, which loads very quickly without signing up. The interface is tidy and redolent of Photoshop. You can upload images from your local pc or collect one from a server. Main windows are available, like a navigator, layers or a history.
Amount of offered tools is great, it vary from a magic wand over highly customizable brushes to a clone stamp. Only a path tool is missing. The text tool can be used with all fonts installed on your local machine. But you’re not able to change font or size in one text field. Also the tool’s smoothness is a bit edged.

Filters and Layers
A lot of filters and options are available in For example, you can adjust contrast, hue, levels or curves of your image. As filter you can choose between standard functions like blur or sharpen, but it isn’t all. Additionally, you have a sum of 22 special effects like scan lines, pixelate or old photo. Other functions like flip or a free transformation are also included. The only thing, I miss here are guide lines and a ruler.
For image editing, it is important for me to have the ability to work with layers. This is, surely, possible with Layers offer also a lot of blend modes and some basic layer styles like shadow or glow. As advantage, masks are also possible.

For saving an image, you can choose between four formats (jpg, png, bmp or pxd as an own format) and two destinations (local and their own share). That’s not much, but enough for basic requirements.  Last, but not least I want to say that is available in 23 languages and offers a free API for developers wanted to use this service.

Summary has not to hide behind Photoshop,  functions and tools are well-thought and intuitive. If you aren’t dependent on paths, this service would be a powerful alternative with high-performance.

Photoshop Express Logo
Appearance and Tools
With high expectation, Photoshop Express has to be talked about in this article. The interface is also clean and tidy, but has nothing in common with his big brother. Uploading a photo is only available after signing up, in this test drive I can only edit uploaded images from a public library.

Filters and Layers
On the right side, you can choose between 18 filters to edit your image. This vary from red-eye removement over color balancing to cropping. You can see some previews of different settings, but are not able to change them individually.

The main target is photo editing. For this, and only for this, Photoshop Express offers several functions with familiar Photoshop quality. It may be a good service for users, who aren’t working with image editing tools every day and want a simple and quick improvement for their holiday pictures.

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