Lover of photography and creative minds of all kinds who enjoys photo editors and creating digital art and photo collage images.
Use a Picture Editor to Create Unique Images
Once you learn to use a fun picture editor, you'll likely keep coming back. Photo nuts like me eventually develop favorites among these image editor online tools. Preferences often reflect those used frequently since once you use one a few times, you'll become familiar enough to able to pop in and out of the editor within minutes. At the end of this article, you'll find a list of ten websites that allow you to download an image and then alter it in many ways. The various editors are similar, yet each one offers unique features, so you might enjoy trying more than one picture editor.
Great Alternatives to Photoshop
No photoshop? No problem! Featured here are several free web based photo editors along with samples of what you can create with them. They allow you to crop an image, add text, alter lighting, add a frame or an overlay and much more. Compiled by a chronic photo editor, this article features the best places to edit images that are easy to use. Most allow a free trail or limited use at no cost.
Photoshop is an excellent tool but it is expensive and takes awhile to learn. The free websites featured here are great alternatives to photoshop for a lot less money, and many have free options. Some photographers and graphic artists who even HAVE photoshop will often use these free editing tools instead sometimes just because they are so easy to use for a quick edit.
Create a Before/After Photo Collage
Note Image Size VS File Size
To clarify: image size and file size are different. Note this when using a picture editor.
Image size refers to the size the image will appear on a website, for example 250 X 250 or whatever. This is NOT the same as the size of the file itself. <=== VERY important! Why? Why is this image size and image file size so important? Two critical reasons: 1) image quality and 2) the length of time it will take to load your web page can be affected negatively.
Any image file size of more than 100 kb will delay loading time of your web page. Ever click on a page that takes so long to load that you became impatient, clicked out and went elsewhere? Webmasters do not want that. So for example, say you took an image of file size 300 kb and you changed the image size to fit your needs. But if you do not also reduce the file size for that image in kilobytes (kb), then the file size for that image remains the same and will cause your web page to take a long time to load.
Any image over 100 kb in file size should be reduced before uploading to a web page. I use http://www.irfanview.com to change file size first to 100 kb or less. Downsizing image file size manually is an extra step, but it significantly reduces your web page loading time, which is not only better for visitors, but this will also be valued by Google and other search engines. Then once you have reduced your image file size, any of the free image editing software sites listed below will allow you to change an image size with a quick click.
Tips for Best Image Quality When Using a Picture Editor
File names on images DO matter, and so does the size of the file.
Best quality = png files: For best quality online, you may want to change the file name if possible and to resize your pic to the displayed size. This way, the quality is maximized. Most pics get saved by default as jpg or gif files, which are always of lesser quality than .png files. Most web platforms will allow an 8 bit .png file and that will deliver the best quality.
Beware of auto-resizing: While it may be convenient to rely of some web platforms who will automatically resize your pics, be aware that this automatic resizing process will reduce quality. Also, the auto resized form will still load completely (in the original file size). When the file size is large (over 100 kb) this will take your web page longer to load (and sometimes also squish your pic).
Cropping and changing the size: If you wish to print a photo rather than just share it online, the changes you make might result in a print that won't match the size you want. That's due to "aspect ratio" - which means the size of the print has been changed to a non-standard ratio in size. What WAS for example a 4X6 inch print is not anymore.
Image Sources - Finding an Image to Edit
When you are not using your own pics, you might search among photo banks for use online. You might want to find a specific pic or clip art that can be edited to brand in your own way.
Listed below are some websites with large collections that allow you to download and use them free. It's best to get into the habit of providing a link back to the source of the image, even when permission is given. A link back to the origin is not always required. These are referred to as an "attribution link" and are highly recommended.
Even though we live in an age when pics are shared freely online, there IS a serious issue with copyright in many cases. Better safe than sorry. Most of these sites provide the attribution link readily. Among them I use Pixabay the most.
A few favorite sources of photo banks you may want to search include:
Pixabay * Wikimedia * Dreamstime * Unsplash * Pexels * Canva
Example of Pixabay Image Edited with Photoflexer
Add a Quote to a Favorite Image
Create Unique Greeting Cards
Online Photo Editor Favorites 2021
Below is a list of favorite online photo editors from a photo nut who uses them regularly. The list below gets updated as availability and features change. For example, a few old favorites were removed since Piknik and Picasa both no longer exist. Also Pic Monkey does still exist as a favorite pic editor, however they no longer offer a free option. You'll find a wide a variety of templates, features and layouts to choose from among the the list below.
You may prefer a simple option that is user friendly and can even work for a beginner. In that case, you might try one from the first list below. Those are web based, meaning they require no download of software and allow you to create a quick free edit.
All in the list below offer tools to create basic changes to images like crop, resize, add text, and rotate with options for more advanced features with paid subscription. They all also limit free use, yet the paid subscriptions are quite inexpensive, averaging only about $5.00/month. In some cases you may notice that most editing options are blocked without a paid subscription, which can feel frustrating.
Offers free and simple versions for beginners:Fotoflexer - user friendly for quick photo edits, used most by this author
- Photoflexer - favorite for this author * great photo editor, many free options
- Fotor - simple intro, free option, no download needed, similar to Pic Monkey
- Ribbet - simple user interface, free option, no download needed
- Image Resizer - If enlarging an image is all you need, a quick fix!
More advanced (or paid subscription only):
- Pic Monkey - A+ favorite image editor, no longer has free option
- Psychopaint - fun painting tool, requires download, free trial
- Pixlr - included photo library helpful, most tools require subscription
- Gimp - Similar to photoshop, preferred by many photographers
- Be Funky - Offers super fun options, but only the very basic are free
- Lunapic - Fun tool, but most options require paid membership
Cartoon Your Pic with Comic Bubbles
Do you enjoy adding text to make your own comics? You can add speech bubbles to images to create funny images like the one below.
SmileBox is a Unique Tool for Photo Nuts
Smile Box is not technically an image editor, but rather a tool that allows you to choose images and then input them into new digital creations. You can is to create digital greetings, slideshows, collages, postcards, invitations, photo books and MORE. Choose from hundreds of attractive, funny and animated templates. Drag and drop your digital photos or videos into place, add text and even personalize with music. Once you've created a few it doesn't take long to create an image design that's very expressive and personal.
Once you've created a new photo presentation, Smilebox provides a link. You can send your link by email, post it online or even print your design. New features and template designs get added regularly. As usual, there's a free basic version and then for a fee you can access additional tools to create even more.
Where in the world do people come from to visit this webpage?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Carolan Ross
LOVE to Hear from Creative Souls. Comments:
alensmith on December 29, 2015:
Hey thanks, i loved the editor which you shared known as pixlr. For me pixlr is the best option till i did not found www.toolpic.com because pixlr is not hiding many good feature in there paid version and toolpic is giving same in free version Have a look and mention in the list so that your reader can benefit from it. thanks
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on August 17, 2013:
@Mobley5: Muchos Gracias!
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on August 17, 2013:
@anonymous: Thanks Daisy. That sounds familiar, seems I've maybe seen or at least heard of fotor somewhere, will take a look. Thanks for visiting and commenting here.
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on August 17, 2013:
@damienwordy: Hey thanks Damien. I had not heard of either of these, so will give them a whirl and then maybe post them here for those interested in a free online photo editor. Gracias!
Mobley5 on July 24, 2013:
You answered a lot of questions I had about photo size and load speed, and have provided lots of resources to use - thank you! Really great lens.
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on June 27, 2013:
@marktplaatsshop: Yes, it's true.... No photoshop? No problem! You can do SO much with these free photo editing tools. You'll enjoy it!
LewisAndKatie on February 13, 2013:
We're both photographers who use photoshop for editing, but its always good to know of online sites if we're not on your laptops! I used to use Picnik and was sad to see it go, but will try some of your recommendations. Being a trainee teacher, I want to bring photography and editing into the classroom so some of these sites will be fantastic to use with the kids!
Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on January 17, 2013:
I mostly use Photoshop Elements but miss the more advanced features of the full version of Photoshop. Picnik was terrific, and although I've used GIMP, Pixlr, and Picasa, I still haven't found a favorite free or affordable image editing application. I'm looking forward to trying out Pic Monkey and some of the other software and online apps you've suggested here. Thanks and blessed!
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on December 03, 2012:
@cjbmeb14 lm: One day I'll likely end up using Photoshop too, just because I do enjoy photo editing so very much. Right now I find I can do nearly everything I want with these free photo editing tools. My sister used Photoshop to clean up some very old vintage photos and they turned out really nice.
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on August 19, 2012:
@John Dyhouse: hey THANKS! I appreciate that.
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on February 09, 2012:
@dwnovacek: That's fantastic! SO glad you found the photo editing tools that will support all that you are already doing. It's ALL good.
dwnovacek on February 09, 2012:
Oh wow - I can't believe I haven't noticed this lens before. One of my goals for this year is to learn photo editing and how to make photo collages. This lens gives me all the info I need to start. Thank you! Angel Blessings!
flicker lm on January 20, 2012:
My previous photo editor doesn't work with my new computer, so I've just started using Picasa along with Picnik. I actually can do things with Picnik that I couldn't do with my previous photo editor! Thanks for the information about the additional resources out there. Didn't realize there were so many other free tools available.
Lisa Auch from Scotland on November 03, 2011:
I just love these sites, I have an uncle who is poorly so we make him silly photo collages and send his silly pitures of the dogs! he loves it, but my daughter loves how easy they are to use
lauraklebsch on October 30, 2011:
yay i am so happy to know that i can make a slide show with smilebox and put it on my lens. i was working on a lens and had to stop because i couldn't figure out how to get a slide show on there. thank you so much.
Christian_Hunter on October 28, 2011:
Awesome lens. Thanks for the great tips. For you and those photo enthusiasts here that may not know, fotofix.com has professional artists that can do any component of your photo treatment (from the simple editing, to complex skin smoothing and object removal) for free or pretty inexpensive. Full disclosure: my girlfriend owns the site...but they do amazing work.
That aside, thanks again for the useful tips and guidance,
Itaya Lightbourne from Topeka, KS on October 23, 2011:
Adding this to my photo editing favs! Another great and resourceful article. :)
MelissaInTheSky on October 16, 2011:
This is a super helpful lens! Thank you for putting this together. I have bookmarked it for future reference.
Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on October 13, 2011:
Nice options! I think I'll give Picnik a try.
tonyoquias on September 21, 2011:
Wow! I'm a photographer and didn't know about these photo editing softwares. Thanks for the list.
BuckHawkcenter on July 08, 2011:
What a great fun way to play with photos! I have just begun learning how to manipulate my photos and having a ball with it. Big surprise this lens attracted my attention (insert smiling face here!). Have been using some of the dog shots that I have to place dogs in strange places. Great fun. Now, I'll have to check out some of your recommendations.
Margaret Schaut from Detroit on January 27, 2011:
Wow, there are lots of options I knew nothing about. Thanks for a fantastic page!
TheresaMarkham on January 26, 2011:
This is an absolutely AWESOME lens! I love all the little bells and whistles on it! I definitely need help w/my photo usage, so this lens is perfect for me. Thanks again! :)
Lisa Auch from Scotland on January 15, 2011:
This is just what i have been looking for! still trying to get into photoshop but these look easier to understand!
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on January 15, 2011:
Thanks for sharing these various site -- I've tried a few, but not all. Will have to give them a try -- I love playing with pictures and getting creative with them...well done and presented! :)
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on February 07, 2010:
Great article. I have a lot to learn and I sure appreciate it when more experienced Internet gurus share their knowledge :)
Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on February 04, 2010:
Ohhh, this is so fun! I just downloaded shape collage - looks like my next addiction starting now. Thanks! (I think)
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on February 04, 2010:
@RhondaAlbom: Taking time for creativity is a GOOD thing! Very healthy. Be sure to share your snowboard and ski collages when you finish. Know they'll be awesome.
Carolan Ross (author) from St. Louis, MO on November 23, 2009:
@clouda9 lm: Hey thanks, Coreen, I will look at picnik.com ...and a friend of mine has a Cricut and your're right, they are awesome! Hope Santa brings you one!!!
clouda9 lm on November 23, 2009:
Just watched an infomercial last night about the Cricut - swear if I had the money I would have bought it on the spot...it is the coolest tool! Nice list you have going here...one more I would suggest adding is Picnik.com. They have a free and paid membership available.
Sensitive Fern on November 18, 2009:
I think I've used Slide but I can't remember where now. I have a Flickr slideshow on a few of my lenses. I saw the Chihuly installation at Shaw's Garden, too. I think my very first lens was about Chihuly but I deleted it before I figured out that more is better on Squidoo.