What makes Picnik so special? (Or - What do I look for in an online image editor?)
:: More than just the basic effects of Crop, Resize, Contrast/Brightness, Color. That doesn't mean I want a ton of effects that really are of no use to me either.
:: Something easy to use, with a clean interface where I can find everything without a lot of clicking around.
:: Live previews with the Effects. I wanna know how something's going to look before I commit to it, Undo button or not.
:: A good Sharpen Effect (or Unsharp Mask, whichever they call it). I want to be able to control the strength and I don't want it to just blur the edges. The Sharpen Effect pretty much makes or breaks the deal between what I'll use. It's a must have.
:: Controls on all the Effects. I don't like editors that just use a single click approach to things. I like to have options and lots of them when using Effects.
Those are the basics. Picnik had a few extra pluses, including a great Collage area and some effects that I still haven't been able to find elsewhere (Cinemascope and Holga-ish). They also had a great Sticker section which I will dearly miss. :(
But let's get on with the reviews.
I'd had most of these sites bookmarked from a long time ago. Happily they're all still around. Sadly, many of them are not up to Picnik's standards, BUT knowing that everyone has different skill levels and goals, I'm including them all. At the end I'll give my favorite choices.
If you've ever edited a photo in Photobucket, you'll recognize FotoFlexer. It's an okay site IMO, but doesn't really match Picnik. Good for basic users, but if you're making fanart, I think you'll be wanting more options.
:: Familiar with Photobucket users.
:: Lots of Effects, but only has basic Fade/Strength controls for them.
:: Poor Sharpen effect - no control for the strength of it.
:: Uses Layers, but there's not much control and no effects for them.
:: Can save images as either jpegs or png files.
This site looks impressive, but there's not much offered here. One look at the Filters menu shows that the choices are limited.
:: Photoshop-like interface
:: Images can be opened from various locations: Facebook, Photobucket, Picasa, etc. beside the desktop or any URL.
:: Poor Sharpen Effect again. All or nothing with no control.
:: Nothing but basic Effects.
:: Uses layers with effects, but very basic overall.
Another pretty basic image editor even though it has a lot of effects and filters and adjustments. Most of the effects are more cool than useful, although I do like their animated snow effect for icons. I don't care much for the interface. It's cluttered and clunky.
:: Lots of tools and effects, but a lot are more cutesy than useful.
:: Has Animation Effects.
:: No layering ability.
Picture2Life's new Collage-Maker:
This is a good image editor, with a lot of options and choices. This is the one editor that has a collage feature, which is nice to see since I love Picnik's version so much.
:: You can Edit, Create Collage, or Animate.
:: Unusual interface.
:: Lots of Effects
:: You have to use the Custom button to have any control over the strength of the Effects and then you can't see them until you hit the Apply Now button.
:: Nice new Collage Feature with lots of possibilities.
This one is kind of hard to use because of the little pop-up window for the effects.
:: Limited Effects and Tools.
:: Effects open a separate window where you only get a tiny preview of what your image will look like with the Effect applied.
:: Images can be saves as: jpeg, png, gif, pdf
Adobe Photoshop Express
:: Basic Editor with a few Effects.
:: You can can hover the pointer to adjust and see the strength of each Effect.
:: Has Dodge & Burn Effects.
:: Photoshop-like interface that can be used in full-screen mode.
:: Has Levels & Curves - nice.
:: Uses Layers.
:: Nice controls for Sharpen and Unsharp Mask.
:: Nice set of Effects.
If you just want to crop or resize a pic and not much else, then this is the image editor for you.
:: Very basic editor.
:: A few Effects with very little strenth controls, if any.
:: Photoshop-like interface.
:: Very few Filters/Effects.
:: Basic Sharpen with no control.
:: Levels but no Curves.
:: Layers capability with Blending Modes.
Online Image Editor
Another very simple image editor with mostly cheezy effects.
:: Very limited effects, usually with no controls.
:: No Sharpen Effect.
This image editor is not very user friendly IMO. It's really very clunky and hard to use. You can't even see the image you're working with while you look through the list of effects, etc. and there's no preview or explanation of what they do either.
:: Very awkward interface with all controls and effects listed as text links below your image.
:: No controls on anything, just select and apply.
Another hard to use image editor because you have to scroll down and away from your image to see the effects offered. At least this one shows you what the effects are.
:: Limited Effects though there are some fun offerings.
:: No Sharpen Effect.
This is a pretty nice editor...if you're not fussy about having a lot of effects. It does have a few which are cool, but others...Hulkify? Kinda weird. Plus, you can do the basics, but no Crop tool?
:: Nice interface. Very clean and clutter free.
:: Basic adjustments can be controled including Sharpness.
:: Very good Blemish and wrinkle removal tools.
:: Only a few Effects, but they can each be controlled for strength.
Pixlr Photo Editor
Pixlr Retro Effects
This site is basically 3 different editors. There's their straight Photo Editor, Pixlr Express, and their Retro Vintage Effects. Each has their own pluses and minuses, but this site holds a lot of possibilities for all kinds of users. There's enough choices and options for those who are advanced yet everything is fairly simple to use and laid out nicely for beginners or the graphically-challenged.
:: Photo Editor is set up like Photoshop with Tools, Layers, & History.
:: Photo Editor has Curves & Levels, lots of Filters, but no adjustable Sharpen.
:: Pixlr Express is very easy to use, yet offers a lot of choices and controls.
:: Pixlr Express has lots of Effects, Overlays, and Borders. Nice selection of Fonts as well.
:: Retro Vintage Effects has a lot of the same Effects as Pixlr Express, but presents them in a different way. Also has a cool button that will automatically mix several effects on your image at once.
:: Simple editor with a clean interface.
:: Most adjustments and Effects have controls, including Sharpen.
:: Nice Smooth Skin feature.
This is one of those sites that looks deceiving. The interface is nice and looks as if there's a lot offered, but once you start trying things out you discover it's fairly limited. And boo! for not having a readily available Undo button (you have to control+z).
:: Simple editor with one-click Effects/Filters
:: Has toolbar off to the left like Photoshop and the ability to add layers.
Just for adding effects...but hey, it looks pretty. If you want to resize, crop, adjust brightness and color this is not the place for you.
:: Only uses a handfull of effects with no basic adjustment tools at all.
:: All Effects have controls on them though.
I really am impressed with the effects BeFunky has. The interface has changed (for the better) from when I first discovered it. There's a lot to play with here and I love the Sharpness control! You can open an image from all kinds of places and save it back there, too. The one flaw...if you don't have a paid account your image will only save at a lower resolution. Boo! :(
:: Lots of cool effects and filters with controls.
:: Nice selection of Stickers, Frames, & Text fonts.
:: Very easy to use.
:: Will resize the image down (800 pixels wide) when saving as jpeg or png unless you have a paid account.
This editor is by far the closest thing to matching Picnik.
:: Nice, clean interface that's easy to use.
:: Lots of Effects, all with detailed, but easy to use controls. Most also have the ability to apply them with a brush instead of over the entire image.
:: Also has a Painter mode for adding layers and painting on the image itself, like in Photoshop.
:: Nice retouching tools, many of them similar to Picnik's including a Clone Tool.
:: Has Curves and Levels.
:: Nice Sharpness with varying levels and the ability to fade it.
Raloria's Top 10 Online Image Editor Choices (instead of Picnik):
4. Picture2Life (mostly for the Collage-Maker)
5. Adobe Photoshop Express
9. PicMagick/Citrify (these tied IMO because they're so similar)
You now know my choices, but don't take my word for it...try these sites out yourself. The most important thing to do is check them out and simply play around and see what's possible. My needs are going to be different than many of yours, but this round up of editors caters to all tastes and user levels. Find the one or two (or even more) that work for you. I, for one will at least be using my top 4 choices. The thing is...they're all a little bit different and each one offers something the others don't. It's not uncommon for me to use 2 different programs or sites on one cap or fanart piece. I've often used Picnik and PhotoScape together. I also have The Gimp at my disposal, but I haven't had a real need or desire to use it for several years. As long as online sites and PhotoScape work - I'm set. :)
But don't be afraid to try any of these out. As you can see, there's a lot of options and best of all...they're free! :D
Here's a few sample images I made while trying these sites out.
BeFunky & Pixlr Retro Vintage Effects
Pixlr Photo Editor & iPiccy
Pixlr Express & BeFunky