Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hey, Hey, Hey... Goodbye! (part deux)

Ready for the continuation of our photo editing software hunt?  If you'll remember, we have a list of needs/wants, and a list of software to try:

CHEAP (or even better, free!)
Basic edits - exposure, contrast, color correction, saturation, sharpen, resize, crop and rotate
Advanced edits - clone
Touch-ups - wrinkle remover (I need that one for any photo of myself...), red eye reduction, blemish correction, eye color, eye brighten, blush, teeth whiten
Other Effects - Cross Process, Black and White, Sepia
Extras: Graphics, Frames, Borders

Basic Edits: Clarify
Advanced Edits: Curves
Touch-ups: Airbrush, Mascara, Tan, Skinnify
Other Effects: HDR, Antique, Texturize, Fancy Focus
Extras: Collage

The photo editing sites I looked into are:
Phoenix (from
And yes, even though I'm morally opposed, I DID get a google+ account just to try out Creative Kit.

Yesterday, we went over the first three.  Today we'll finish up our list of software options.  Hopefully you'll see one that appeals to you!

Phoenix (aviary's photo editing software)
Basic info:  It's free. You do need to create an account though.  There isn't a "premium" membership option.
                     Pros - no hassle, no fees, access to all editing tools
                     Cons - pictures aren’t saved to the software and there is no “history”; you can’t                  
                                  upload multiple photos at once
Phoenix is similar to ipiccy in that you need to enable local storage if you want to save your creations.  The photos save to the software online and you are given specific URLs for the image.  You can publish your photos to "aviary" to "make them discoverable" - which seems a lot like photobucket or flickr, but it doesn't seem as easy to set up (albums? categories? galleries?  I don't know...)
Can upload your own custom filters
A lot of Photoshop-esque tools 
Layering abilities
Takes a LOOOONG time to upload or save a photo - a veeeeeeerrrrrrrrryyyyyyy loooooooonggggggg time.
Can only upload and edit one photo at a time
Learning curve - it's NOT like picnik
No "readymade stickers" to add
limited special effects and filters
Arg.  Dumb watermark.
No collage!
Other Impressions:
There are definitely not as many filter or color options - but you can upload your own.  I suppose if you know how to create your own "actions" this would be helpful.  There are some special editing tools - it seems a little like photoshop.  For instance, there's the option to cut a selection of the photo with a shape or freeform and then move it somewhere else.  Other non-picnik-like tools include Magic Wand, Smudge and Liquify.  I really had no idea how to use most of them, and sadly there aren't any tutorials right on the software, so you’d have to either a) already be familiar with similar editing tools or b) google it if you're like me.  Even the tools I DID recognize and the basic editing options didn't seem intuitive while tweaking my photo - so it's a lot different than picnik and not nearly as user-friendly.  I also didn't really like the filter options they did have.  The one exception was emboss which makes your photo look like it's printed on heavyweight paper.  There are no sliders for the filters so you can't tweak the effects - if you use a color effect and don't like it, there's no way to adjust it.  It doesn’t show you a preview before you do the edits, so if you apply them and then don’t like it - even if you just added a TINY BIT too much blue or something - you have to wait for it to apply and then wait for it to undo.  It would definitely take some time to figure out completely... I'm sure it must have similar capabilities to picnik, but the tools I use regularly (like clone) just weren't apparent to me.  There is the option to add text, and the really cool part is that you can use any fonts downloaded to your computer.  You can do layers, just as in photoshop.  I could pick many of the other photo editors up within a few minutes, but this would take hours PLUS research for tutorials to figure out how to do all the things I liked doing on picnik - like clone and adding filters such as antique or cross process.   All in all, it seems you’d have to spend a lot more time with this to be comfortable.  Plus it seems like the capabilities are tailored for different needs/wants. 
Overall Rating: 
1 and 1/2 out of 5 stars - I just don't think it's worth the time and effort to figure it all out.  There aren't nearly enough readymade filters.

Basic info:  You have to set up an account to use it but it's free.  There is a "Pro" version that gives you more bandwidth for saving your photos.  You can connect to Photobucket and use all your photos from your albums there.  It seems to have the capabilities to set up albums in FotoFlexer as well, but I couldn't figure it out just by playing with it.
Takes a long time to upload.
Can't upload multiple photos at once.
Other Impressions:
If you have worked with photobucket, FotoFlexer will look really familiar to you.  
Some specifics?  The collage has only simple templates in grid form - rows, columns or both - and you can have up to 25 photos.  You can adjust the spacing between and the proportions.  You can change the background color or make it transparent.  You upload the pictures directly into the space you want them to be in, instead of dragging and dropping.  Dragging and dropping seems a better way to see the whole project while you are working on it and change things more easily.  There are a lot of artistic effects (pop art, pixelate, cartoon, oil painting, sketch, etc.)  My favorites were Old Photo and (of course) Cross Process.  It is possible to add layers with other photos - you just upload a photo over an existing photo - as you would have dragged and dropped from the photobasket in picnik.  The main difference is that you have to wait for it to upload separately and you can’t see all of your options beneath the photo you’re working on.  The erase tool seems handy in conjunction with this layering feature.  It seems like something that would not be intuitive to picnik users, but perhaps to photoshop users?  When you make layers and upload images or create your own graphics with stickers you can group items together (like the merge tool in ipiccy).  This is something I always wished picnik could do.  You can cut out pieces of your photo and layer just those pieces separately from the original picture, or get rid of the original picture all together and just keep the cut out.  This could be useful in creating posters or invitations.  There seem to be a lot more capabilities than I was first aware of and I would need to play with it more to come to a complete decision.  My opinion now, though I’m more impressed than my initial impression, is that it just isn’t quite right.  There aren’t any color filters or processes.  The touch up tools are limited.  It’s missing too many of the things I loved about picnik.  For some projects it would work perfectly, but for straight editing and making something beautiful, I don’t think it’s quite up to par.
Overall Rating:
3 out of 5 stars - Pretty good capabilities, but not quite what I'm looking for.

be funky

Basic info:  You need to create an account.  You can use the free version or the "premium". The premium version comes with more editing tools - just like picnik.  You can use all the tools for a limited time when you sign up. 
Similar to picnik in ease and aesthetic.
Can only upload one photo at a time.
No premade basic shape stickers - just fun ones, holiday ones and speech bubbles
Other Impressions:
be funky is definitely user-friendly.  For a lot of the filter effects and artsy effects you can see a little preview of the overall idea of the effect before you even apply it, so it’s nice to know what they do if you aren’t familiar with the titles.  Also, there is a history button at the bottom so once you apply an effect and don’t want it anymore you can click on history and go back to the original.  They have most of the same effects and filters that picnik had, and a few I hadn't used.  Some that I really liked were the “enhance detail” function and the Fisheye Effect.  The “united colors” effect was fun - a lot like a toned down popart.  One of the coolest effects available is the tilt shift tool - it looks really professional and is fully customizable - size, amount of blur, angle - you can do horizontal or circular.  Love that.  The only thing I'm not crazy about with that is that you can't place it anywhere you want in the photo - it's always exactly in the middle.  There are four different vintage effects(!) and their viewfinder effects are really cool, too (there are 12 of those)!  There are a decent amount of font options, not quite as many as picnik.   If it had clone, collage and basic shape stickers to add it would be pretty near perfect.  Darn it. 
One of their FOUR different vintage colors options.

One of the viewfinder options I mentioned above.  You can fade it and make it as strong as you want.

Pinhole option with the "fisheye" effect.  I think the fisheye effect is pretty fun.

An example of using their tilt-shift creator.

One of their "artsy" options.  There are two different "impressionist" effects.  Really fun.

Straightforward edit using: crop "golden ratio", enhance details, adjust the exposure, add matte.

Overall Rating: 
 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars - Really fun effects, easy to use.  But there are some downsides - no collage, can't upload multiple photos, very few shape stickers...


Basic info:  Just launched March 9th.  Many are hopeful that this will be a picnik substitute - very similar in options and cost - because guess what?  It’s created by ex-picnickers.  Right now you can sign up for the premium options for free for a few months and at the end of the trial they’ll email a coupon for you to continue using premium for a small cost.  You do create an account. 
Free/small fee
a lot like picnik, so there's not much to learn
Can only upload one photo at a time - no storage on the software
no collage - yet
Other Impressions:
 picmonkey has said that they are aiming to be just as user-friendly “or better” than picnik.  (see their new FB page - picmonkey on facebook - for more details.)  You can also leave them feedback on FB - they say “We're tracking every single feature request. We're planning on launching with most of the favorites, we've got some new tricks up our sleeves, and the rest will surely follow.” So if you want something, might as well try it! 
I noticed they have many of the exact same features/tools/effects as picnic with the same result.  (Obviously the interface is different, with the available edits down the left side instead of across the top, but even the controls sliders are the same).  They have all of my “required” items and most of my “would like” items EXCEPT for collage.  Since I first looked into picmonkey, I noticed that they've made some updates to it.  They have added more filters - both with color and camera type.  I played around with some of them and loved the results.  From my rudimentary understanding of Photoshop, I gather that these filters give you results similar to adding "actions" that have been pre-created for you.  All I can say is that I love the ease of using these filters.  I also noticed that they've added an entire "textures" section, which they did NOT have at all the first time I was there.  I haven't played with these yet, but they look very cool.  There are TONS to choose from - way more textures than were available on picnik.
They also have stickers (which they call overlays) and many available are duplicates of what you find on picnik - though there are not as many.  There also aren’t as many fonts to choose from, but some of them are pretty cool.  You add and edit  them in the same way as picnik.The most major difference I noticed was that there was no “history” of saved projects and photos. 
I know there will be continued updates in the coming weeks - they have promised collage soon.   Their catchphrase?  “This is your photo on awesome juice”... We shall see.
Examples: (sorry, there are a lot)
picmonkey's version of HDR.  Pretty straightforward - nice results.

picmonkey's Warhol effect

A basic example using clarify, exposure adjust and adding text.

Edits unique to picmonkey:

Using "Burst" (kind of like vibrance)

"Daguerrotype" - LOVE this "camera" filter

"filmstock" - another "camera" filter.  Love the definition and coloring.  This particular effect has multiple options for the look.

"Intrepid" - one of their cool color filters.  You can fade it as much as you want.

"Time Machine" - another color filter.  There are a few different options within this effect.

"Tranquil" - it might be my new favorite color filter.  It's a toss up between this and cross process.

"urbane" - another color filter.  
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5 stars - I'm hopeful this will be a good fit - once they do some more upgrades.  

Creative Kit
Basic info:  It's free, but you have to have a Google+ account in order to use it.  I don't get Google+ at all.  (Who are these people writing to me?  Why don't I know them?  That's beside the point.)  You basically upload your photos into albums as you would on FB, then click on the individual pictures and click on "creative kit" in order to edit them one at a time. It's really just a cross between facebook and picnik.
Looks EXACTLY like picnik.  No learning curve here!
Many of the filters and effects you already love
Some extra filters that are really cool
No clone!
No collage
Fewer graphics and "readymade stickers"
Other Impressions:
This seriously looks EXACTLY like picnik (obviously) with a few exceptions.  Almost everything is even in the same place under the same categories (almost).  All the basic edits of picnik are there.  Also, many of the same filters you love - lomo, orton, HDR, cross process, holga, cinema scope, 1960’s, tint, vibrance.  Also, there are some extra filters that I REALLY liked: daguerreotype, green fade, magenta fade, reala 400, Poloroid Plus, Sun Aged.   BUT, this really doesn’t make up for not having clone, focal zoom, and fancy focus.  There are some graphics (stickers) but not nearly as many as picnik.  There aren’t any basic shapes, which I think is odd.  There are stickers for special occasions and speech bubbles but that’s about it.  No texture and no layering abilities (on picnik you could add layers and combine photos by dragging a photo from the photobasket onto the photo that was already opened and fading it or using a special combination - like addition, lighten, darken, subtract, normal, multiply, etc.  Nothing like that here).  There are almost NO touch up tools - they have airbrush, shine remover, blemish fix, and sunless tan.  A lot of the ones I used regularly aren’t there - no blush, no teeth whiten, no skinnify, no wrinkle remover, no mascara, etc, etc.  They do have the same font options as picnik and the same mode of adding/editing the fonts.
No frames.  No collage.  I’ve heard that they will be migrating the majority of picnik functions to Creative Kit, but so far it seems lacking.  Plus, you know, I'm taking a stand and all.
Overall Rating: 

1/2 star - Well, maybe this rating isn't entirely fair.

The biggest thing I noticed across the board is that there is a lack of ability to store your photos on the editing software.  You generally don’t create an account in most cases, and if you do, it’s not immediately apparent where your photos go when uploaded.  Most that I looked at only allow you to upload one photo at a time to work on.  That’s kind of a bummer because I liked the flexibility of picnik to see my history and look at all the options of photos I had for a particular project I was working on all at once - especially when I was doing collages.  That’s another thing.  There’s a significant lack of collages (or USEFUL collages - pizap doesn’t count) - except with fotoflexer/photobucket and ipiccy.  

So who wins out?

I believe I'll be using ipiccy for the time being - but I will definitely keep my eye on picmonkey to see what future updates bring.  

How about you?

PS.  Think it might be time for us to take another family photo?  Zoe's only walking and talking now...

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

1 comment:

Clint said...

Out of curiosity, why are you morally opposed to G+?

This has been interesting to read. Just an FYI, if you're ever interested in Photoshop or other Adobe software, I can generally get significant discounts on it.

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