OMG, you guys. I love Pixlr Express.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been reviewing my favorite web-based photo editing sites in the wake of Picnik’s closing in April. In my search for a great site to edit photos, cover collages, and Quotetastic Friday posts, I have played with lot of different sites. Many of these have added on or changed their services in order to step up their game in Picnik’s absence. Here’s a brief summary of the previous reviews (click the link to view the full review):
- PicMonkey: Cute site with cool filters, effects, and fonts (hopefully they will add more of each!). Collage feature is customizable and fonts are easy to edit.
- iPiccy: The most Picnik-like of all the sites. Text feature is buried in layers, so text can’t be edited after it is set.
- FotoFlexer: Boring design with a limited collage feature. Lots of great fonts, but they can’t be edited once they are added.
So now we’re down to my favorite photo editing site: Pixlr Express. Pixlr Express offers the most basic edits, fonts, frame, overlays, stickers, effects, and collage options of all the sites I’ve used. I love it. Instead of breaking these down, just know that they are plentiful and fun. There are too many things to count. Instead, I’m going to look at the collage feature and fonts specifically, since these are so unique to the site.
The collage feature here is AWESOME. It’s so easy to use, and allows users to custom edit each image in each frame. This alone saves a lot of time! I can upload book covers and resize, rotate, apply filters, or other edits easily.
Once the collage is set, it opens up in the regular editing window for additional edits: resizing, adding filters, text, etc can all be done at this point, and then the collage can be saved. I love this collage feature, as I think it is the most flexible and user-friendly of all the sites I’ve reviewed.
Fonts and Text
There are so many fonts. So many. More fonts than I could ever dream of using. The fonts are pretty, sophisticated, fun…whatever feel you want, it’s there. Fonts are organized by categories: Dotted, Grunge, Handwriting, Novelty, Retro, Sans, and Serif. Once a font type is select, the feature gets a little clunky. I want to love the fonts here, but actually using them can be a pain for the following reasons:
- Once a text box has been applied, it is set in stone. No going back to re-edit. This drives me nuts because I never see my mistakes or change my mind until after I’ve moved on to the next edit.
- The text input field is available after a font category is selected. So if I input a phrase for a handwriting font, I have to re-enter the phrase if I change my mind to grunge or novelty. I often change my mind, and I wish Pixlr made it easier to change my text.
- I can’t copy or duplicate text boxes. I usually do this to ensure I get consistent colors/fonts across all text boxes, because I copy the first text box and then change the words. It is virtually impossible to get the same color — I have to drag my mouse across the color field and hope each color selection is close enough.
- When I go back to each text category, it brings up a random font instead of defaulting to the last font used. Such a silly thing, but it would make my life so much easier
Basically, I need a photo-editing site where I can edit any piece at any time. If Pixlr Express made the text feature a little more user-friendly, it would be the perfect site. I love the fonts, so much! Also, I wish that there were stickers with basic shapes (squares, circles, rectangles) so I could add transparent blocks behind my text on busy picture.
Pixlr Express is just one of three products offered by Pixlr. The full-featured Pixlr program is like a web-based Photoshop: instead of offering filters, it offers sophisticated photo edits and layers for the serious photographer. For the super-casual user, the Pixlr-O-Matic applies just effects, overlays, and frames. It even selects a random combination for those who want a surprise!
Pixlr Express is my favorite site and my go-t0 site when I start a photo editing project, but it’s not perfect. I’ll open the photo in iPiccy if I want to add a fancy colored box to write my text on. I’ll open the photo in PicMonkey if I want to play with my various text boxes, arranging and re-arranging my text until I get it just right. I love iPiccy’s ability to stretch text horizontally and vertically instead of just proportionately. I don’t think FotoFlexor has any features that stand out, but the others all have their moments of usefulness.
Writing these posts has forced me to examine what is important to me in creating graphics for my blog, and I have a much clearer sense of which sites to use for which needs. I don’t expect that many of you are as picky as me, but I hope I have at least introduced you to some cool sites and shown you how I make my graphics for this little blog!
Which photo editing site do you use? Which might you try? How do you make graphics for your blog?
I was going to end my series on web-based photo-editing tools this week with my favorite site, but I found another tool I wanted to mention before my finale. So I bumped my favorite site to next week and decided to look at FotoFlexer this week.
I will say that FotoFlexer isn’t my favorite site, but it is worth mentioning because it does the same thing as many of the other sites. I also like that it offers lots of font choices…including glitter fonts. Not that I’d ever use a glitter font, but you never know!
FotoFlexer divides its tools into eight categories: Basic, Effects, Decorate, Animation, Beautify, Distort, Layers, and Geek.
The site gives a lot of flexibility in what you can do to a photo. Each of the thirty-four effects has numerous customizable options, from applying effect only on selected areas of the photo to fading and intensity control. Eight frames are available, and more fonts than I had time to count (far more than the other sites I’ve reviewed). Each font is available as a glitter font. The stickers are more like actual stickers of butterflies, hearts, holiday items, and cute doodles, and many are available as glitter animated stickers.
Of course, you can also crop, resize, rotate, flip, copy, fix red eye and blemishes, and make adjustments to contrast and colors — just like with all of the other sites. Like iPiccy, FotoFlexer lets you play with layers and advanced photo editing tools, such as curves, smart cutout, and smart scissors. The easy collage feature would work well for displaying book covers, since it offers linear photos, but there are only twenty collage layouts and they are not customizable. I could only display 2-5 books in a single row, which is limiting. Photos must be uploaded to a specific spot in the collage layout, so you’d better know exactly where you want your photos to go! Otherwise the process might be a somewhat restricting and tedious.
Like iPiccy, FotoFlexer allows users to go directly from the collage mode to editing mode. I still don’t understand why PicMonkey makes that step so clunky.
Oh, and if you are looking for a site to make your own motivational/demotivational posters, FotoFlexer has a poster option that does just that.
The limitations in collage mode make this site hard to use as my primary site, but I do love the plethora of fonts! I don’t really care for the effects, they are more cartoonish/fun edits than hipster/artsy filters.
And who knows…I may have a need for glitter fonts and stickers one day.
Overall, the site is rather boring. Like iPiccy, it’s great for basic edits, but not-so-great for adding my own personality to things. It’s very limited unless you want cute/cheesy. Even the layout and graphics of the site are dull. The ads at the top are kind of annoying, though moving to full-screen mode eliminates them in just one click (a feature other sites don’t offer).
BUT THE FONTS!! There are so many fonts, including lots of great handwriting fonts (which I love). It’s a little “scrapbook-esque,” but I do love scrapbooking. The fonts may be nice and plentiful, but using them can be clunky. All text has a default white block background, and once the text is added it can’t be edited. This is a REALLY annoying complication, especially if I notice a typo after adding multiple blocks of text — I have to hit “undo” and delete everything to start over. Note to online photo editors: I hate that.
Coming up next week, I review my favorite site. It’s not perfect (the text feature is clunky in a different way), but it’s pretty darn close. Check back here for the final installment of my Photo Fun series. Same time, same place.
Previous posts in this series:
Two weeks ago, I write a review of PicMonkey to help share what I’ve learned in my search for the perfect post-Picnik web-based photo editing tool. I love editing photos and such for my blog, and I can’t do it with these easy, free tools. This series of photos will explain the positives and negatives of each site, with the hopes of sharing what I’ve learned with the masses (aka: you).
The next site we’re going to look at is iPiccy.
iPiccy isn’t as visually appealing as PicMonkey, but it offers a few features that PicMonkey doesn’t.
iPiccy divides its tools into categories: basic editor, photo effects, retouch, blender (layers, text, and stickers), frames, and textures.
Of course, iPiccy offers most of the basic editing tools: resize, crop, rotate, sharpen, basic color edits, exposure balancing, blemish fix, and redeye remover. In addition, there are nine frame styles, twenty-five fonts, and forty-one effects to apply to photos. Most of the effects are either simple (vignette, soften, fancy focus) or fun effects (adding snow, wanted posters, etc). The stickers are pretty basic, as are the overlays. iPiccy does allow users to play with layers on photos, a feature that PicMonkey (and Picnik) doesn’t offer yet.
The collage feature has a lot of options. There are various square and linear layouts, but there are also some cool layouts with trapezoids, diamonds, and triangles. These layouts literally add a new angle to the collage feature. I don’t have much use for that for my blog, but I can imagine that some folks might appreciate the unique feature.
iPiccy first caught my eye because it looks the most like Picnik. It also was the first web-based photo editor to offer a collage feature that was similar to the Picnik style. I needed to line up any number of book covers, and the site works well for that. It’s also easy to use — it’s my go-to editor for a basic edit. It is also the only site that lets me do a color gradient on a sticker, which lets me add interest and depth to my rectangle overlays behind my text. It’s such a simple, obscure thing, but it really makes a difference.
However, there are a lot of limitations. I am routinely frustrated with the layering, since the text and stickers are buried in this feature. When I go to add a sicker and layer on the text (as I do in ALL of my Quotetastic Friday posts), I have to finalize my changes before I go back to other edits. There have been multiple occasions where I have made a mistake in my text or wanted to move the text, but was unable to because the layers had been merged and changes were impossible.
iPiccy is basic, and would be a great tool for a beginner. Most of the options are either really simple or really fun, and some are really cheesy. I prefer the more sophisticated edits of PicMonkey, because I really like the Instagram/Hipstamatic style of filters that they offer. iPiccy can also be a little bit buggy, making my computer run really slow and occasionally crashing (and making me lose my photo edits). Overall, though, it’s been a good stepping stone away from Picnik and it has unique features, such as layers and color gradients.
Next week I’ll feature a site that give all of them a run for their money. So join me then, same time and same place.
Just FYI, for those who follow and read regularly: my favorite online photo editing site, Picnik, closed down yesterday and I was totally bummed! However, I found PicMonkey and I love it just as much, if not more, for my Quotetastic Friday purposes. The only thing it lacks is a collage feature, which I use to show multiple book covers at one. However, it says this feature is coming soon! Over the next few weeks I’ll be experimenting with different tools, and I’ll let you know which ones I’m using and what I think of each.
As always, the background images are my own.