I’m Chanpory, and this is my site on how to live and work better as a designer.

You should follow me on Twitter here.

For more, check out the archives.

I’m fed up with Photoshop and its one billion rarely-used features.

How about a simple photo-editor that’s quick, easy, and doesn’t cost a thousand dollars. Fortunately, there’re tons of web-based photos editors popping up. Most are crap, but some are promising. Check out these free web-based Photoshop alternatives:

1. Picnik


Arguably, Picnik is the most popular web-based photo editor. Why? Because it’s now integrated with Flickr.

2. Splashup

Very polished interface. Tools and palettes are modeled after Photoshop. And it has layers!

3. Phoenix


Part of the Aviary suite of creative apps, Phoenix also offers layers and compositing.

4. Photoshop Express

Photoshop Express

Adobe was a little late to the web-apps game, but this is a pretty good first try. I like the free 2GB of space. Unlike the real Photoshop, this web version has no ability to layer or composite images.

5. Snipshot


Nice, simple, and clear interface, with no ads at all.

6. flauntR

flautR offers a cornucopia of image tools, boasting thousands of photo effects. If you want to make your photo look like a cheezy painting, this is the place.

7. Pic Resize


Another ad-free editor. I love the huge buttons.

8. Pixenate


Hmm… looks like Pixenate was “inspired” by Pic Resize. The icons and ads are annoyingly awful, but the app works.

9. FotoFlexer


Another simple interface. This one enables you to composite and “layer” images but without using a traditional layers palette. Instead, you can drag the photos and “push” them back or forward.

10. Phixr


An example of how ugly these apps can get.

Any others?

Let me know if I’ve missed any other good ones. (I’ve tried to weed out the janky ones).

If you liked this post, please bookmark it on del.icio.us. Thank you.


  • Aaron

    gravatarJan 8, 2010
    11:36 am

    Photoshop is designed for full-time professionals, not part-timers or hobbyists. That’s why it’s so feature loaded.

  • Prof designer

    gravatarJan 14, 2010
    9:59 am

    I’m a professional designer, been using Photoshop since the early days, have won awards for my images, and I’d be happy to go toe-to-toe with any of you “professional” Photoshop users out there. Yes, Photoshop is good, but Chanpory Rith hits it on the head. A good designer needs alternatives to Photoshop which is expensive and bloated. (In reality, most professional photoshop users actually use only a small set of tools that they have mastered, and the rest are rarely used.) Mr. Rith is not “whining”, he is making an excellent point–most of the graphic design work we do could be done with light, portable software (preferably web-based for those of us who travel a lot and use multiple operating systems).

    What I have always found frustrating about my colleagues in this industry is their refusal to look forward and be open minded about change. Instead they tend to get elitist and hide behind their status (note the tone of posts, “if you don’t like Photoshop, you must be an idiot or worse, a hobbyist”). In reality, my fellow designers act a lot like sheep, all following each other. When I started in this business, the old guard sneered at us youngsters who did our design work on desktop computers (real designers used an Xacto knife and rubber cement). Sure there was awful stuff being produced with “hacks with Macs”, but very quickly the old guard was all replaced, as the industry changed without them, and design actually got better.

    There is a reason that almost all the innovation in the graphic design industry is now coming from 17 year olds who haven’t learned how to hide behind their elitism. Some of the posters on this site would do well to read “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

  • PortraitGal

    gravatarJan 21, 2010
    8:00 am

    Yes!!! well said!!! I’ve read through these comments and found myself getting more angry with each snobby, snarky, arrogant, elitist comment that was made.

    Today’s hobbyist may well be tomorrow’s award winning photographer that puts YOUR work to shame, and just MAYBE they will be using a program that you are sneering at.

    GET OVER YOURSELF! sheesh! I do BOTH professional AND hobby pictures, and as a single mom, I have neither the time NOR the money to spend on bloated software, to do what can be done with a few clicks in today’s much more streamlined programs. The KISS principle (KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!) is just as applicable with photography as it is with most anything else.

    I have to wonder, as well, why a GOOD photographer would even NEED all the extra fixits for your picture — is your photography really so bad that you need that much help? I’ve seen pictures taken by so-called amateurs that make many professional pictures look like a simple point and shoot in comparison.

    One other point…not everyone who is a fantastic photographer is also a computer geek. So please stop with the looking down your nose at people who prefer to spend their time taking awesome photos than trying to figure out complicated software.

    just my two cents worth…elitists, BAH! HUMBUG!

  • Nigel Johnson

    gravatarJan 22, 2010
    7:30 am

    The only one that suited me was Picnik, which has the best cropping tool out of the ten.

  • Karen

    gravatarJan 23, 2010
    5:40 pm

    Sooooooooooooo, after reading all of this stuff, and trying to see what inexpensive or free program to use for Mac instead of photoshop (for my amateur needs), I have come to: 1) Photofilter or 2) Photoshop Elements or 3)Pixlmator My current love is making Youtube videos, but I am using my ppt program to build the slide show – drastic limitations for manipulating photos. I am leaning towards PS Elements unless someone can enlighten me otherwise. Thanks

  • Bucka

    gravatarJan 24, 2010
    1:45 am

    Picnik looks as ugly as Phixr though…

    And you can see that Gimp users are rather stupid. They don’t know that this article is about online solutions. Besides that, Gimp is even worse than MS Paint at least the interface.

  • David Bryce Scott

    gravatarFeb 2, 2010
    2:18 pm

    What about Pixlr? You forgot what is proboly the best online photo editor Iv’e ever used. (So far)

  • Friz

    gravatarFeb 2, 2010
    5:12 pm

    Sumopaint.com is one i have used quite abit. Very similar to photoshop

  • Gord

    gravatarFeb 14, 2010
    10:13 am

    Photoshop is a waste of time and money, threw the disk in the garbage when I found out for myself that PhotoImpact is a truly amazing program for the price. Even now, I rarely use PhotoImpact for creating digital artwork. I mostly use Bryce 6.1. What a sweet program that one is. I now use PhotoImpact only for post-processing, after creating artwork in 3D.

  • Mysti

    gravatarMar 4, 2010
    8:55 pm

    I’ve read all these comments, because, I too (like Karen on Jan 23, 2010) wanted to see what the best free web-based photo editor was out there. About halfway through reading the comments, I realized most of these comments were written almost 2 YEARS ago because the article itself was from May 2008. Think about how much changes in the computer and software world in 2 years? At this time the iPhone had only been out for a year! Can you imagine how many Windows updates and itunes downloads there have been since then? It’s possible Photoshop is totally different now! Why did some of these people get so upset over some of the comments?

    Why get all worked up over people’s attitudes about Photoshop (whether elitest or calm, for or against) when they no longer hold water since they are so old? I used to use GIMP, but stopped due to flaws and bugs in the software and went on to others. And besides, as someone else noted, this is about WEB-BASED software. So most of these suggestions are moot.

    I guess my point is…don’t get all angry because people 2 years ago had opinions about the way software was designed back then! I’m going to pay attention to the most relevant comments and suggestions which I feel are dated within the last 4 to 6 months and possibly disregard the article altogether.

  • Adrian

    gravatarMar 11, 2010
    1:42 am

    I have just scanned in around 7,500 35mm slides from years long past. The new images all look dull and lifeless. Now I can use Photoshop or any one of dozens of other packages to edit them one at a time – and I probably will for a selected few, but not all 7500. So why can’t I just group them into a dozen types (e.g. snow scenes, beach scenes, landscape, city buildings, portraits, cars, interiors, backlit, etc.) then do a bulk fix on each group. Are there any packages around that will do this simply?

  • ghillie suit

    gravatarMar 14, 2010
    10:35 pm

    Thanks for this list. I have a bunch of photos I need to fix up

  • obob

    gravatarMar 17, 2010
    4:53 pm

    GIMP is da best it beats any other program try it at http://www.gimp.org/


    gravatarMar 26, 2010
    1:22 pm


  • ZJoey X

    gravatarApr 10, 2010
    9:28 pm

    what design program let me take a pic of my car and redesign it in a 3d and change it look and color like adding a bodykit

  • Amanda

    gravatarApr 11, 2010
    12:54 am

    Don’t know if this has been asked but can gimp or any other free program use photoshop brushes? (or are they able to store brushes that you make?) Thanks

  • South Florida Web Studio

    gravatarApr 15, 2010
    2:14 pm

    Here at SoFla Web Studio we use picasa for quick photos edits. Its great for the simple stuff and quick edits. Although it is not free, we still have an old copy of ACDSee (I think version 5) here that we use for some simple batch processing tasks, like renaming, resizing, etc…

  • Prasana

    gravatarApr 18, 2010
    7:54 pm

    uh guys . I’m pretty much new. What I need is a a program on the web with Lots and lots of Filters with click-use technology. Anyone got any bright ideas? I’ve used picnik. Need something else with wider filter options

  • I hate Crapples

    gravatarApr 20, 2010
    8:20 pm

    Efrain, Best you get rid of the crapbook and get a decent platform. You wanted suggestions!

  • Ranbir

    gravatarMay 9, 2010
    7:49 am

    Great post.. i find really difficult to use photo shop… hope these sites ease my work

  • Tina

    gravatarMay 12, 2010
    1:56 am

    I LOVE photoshop! The customizable actions are awesome. The ability to make a watermark brush is a necessity for the massive number of photos I edit. Couldn’t live without layers. It’s perfect for what I do!! I have yet to find anything that can do everything that Photoshop can, especially as a professional designer. Photoshop Elements is always a great, cheaper, more user friendly alternative to the Extended CS versions. You can pick it up at any Wal-mart, Staples, Best-Buy, etc for under $100.

  • Tiffany

    gravatarMay 14, 2010
    12:09 pm

    how about a free design program for more than just photos? what if i want to design posters for print, etc.? any suggestions for me, by chance? :) i can’t fathom paying $2k for something i would only need on occasion; it just won’t pay for itself. not to mention the fact that i haven’t used photoshop in about 6 years, so i surely would need to relearn it in entirety.

  • Essam

    gravatarMay 24, 2010
    11:21 pm

    Thank You,What about pixlr.com? I think it is great! any way i included an direct link to it in my World wide home page (www.WorldFavo.com). Thank You

  • Cristina

    gravatarJun 6, 2010
    5:51 am

    I’ve used Photoscape on Windows and it is easy and friendly to use. Now I’ve got to find one like that for MAC (not too happy with Gimp).

  • Syed Asjed Ali Shah

    gravatarJun 23, 2010
    6:58 pm

    i am a great photo gapher . i scerch job on internet to internet

  • Syed Asjed Ali Shah

    gravatarJun 23, 2010
    7:07 pm

    i am aphoto grapher . i scerch a job on internet to internet

  • Photo Editing

    gravatarJun 26, 2010
    3:30 am

    They don’t have a large number of options like Photoshop, i like your post but your comparison is not acceptable. Thanks for the nice post.

  • Hossein

    gravatarJul 1, 2010
    10:57 pm

    C4A(Convert4All) was born on January 2010.

    The idea was provide a global online converter tools to convert any thing you think :D .

    C4A goal is to provide for you simple converts more easy; more user friendly and more easy to access.

    You don’t need download software for simple convert any more.

    C4A start up with only string convert methods but now it support 5 kind of converts:

    1. Currency
    2. String
    3. Image Editor
    4. Time and Date
    5. Documents
  • hater

    gravatarJul 2, 2010
    1:51 am

    I can’t say how frustrated i got when i tried to use Gimp here at work since i only have Photoshop at home. Gimp is horrible.. really really horrible! I’t made more harm then good on my picture.. I ended up using Paint and it worked out perfect.


  • Avio karte

    gravatarJul 9, 2010
    2:35 am

    I reinstalled my laptop and cant find my key so now I am looking for photoshop alternative. Hopefully one of these programs will work. Thanks!

  • LS Shiny

    gravatarJul 9, 2010
    7:47 am

    All the Photoshop fanatics that are adding the critical comments toward the people who have chosen to seek alternative solutions to a grossly overweight product, like Microsoft products, are probably the same ones who spent all that money on the software, and then on a class to learn how to use it and are like the US government folks who don’t vote for their pay increases, but also don’t bring up the idea of voting them down, or even recommend that they donate their time because they’re just mad that they either didn’t know about the freeware alternatives, or were too lazy to look for them and now they’re out all that money, but they can’t go back because like when you buy a Harley Hog, it doesn’t stop there (there is NO substitute for Harley though), you have to get the clothes, etcetera. The point here, LET’S GET BACK TO BASICS!!! if there is a good or even better alternative, don’t be such a weenie and try to shut it down. Gimp IS a great alternative, and it’s simple to use. Like OpenOffice, it offers a no cost alternative to the BS-Infested MS Office. Who else besides Microsoft would go and change a successful product like they did on 2007, so dramatically, that many people would have to get retrained? It was so ridiculous! People want the alternatives and want software companies to take notice, because when they get too big like Microsoft, they tend to think they know what EVERY user wants more than the user themselves. So go back to your hole, and stop worrying about us freeware junkies, you still get to keep your albatross, and your little sharp tidbits of wisdom will be better spent with your friend at the watercooler of your top-heavy corporations.

  • Bam

    gravatarJul 25, 2010
    9:35 pm

    Well I use a whole range of editing softwares. I try to certain things from each because not one has everything I want or need. I use: Photoshop Elements (came with this graphic tablet) GIMP (free) Paint.net (free) Picasa (free) Photoscape (free) Pixelmator (Paid)

    Though it is tedious to move back and forth at times. But its close enough to what i might get in photoshop and then some more. Took a while to learn how to use everything though :P If I could have photoshop it wouldnt be much of a difference in my mind but less going back and fourth though XD

    If you actually want your pictures to look a bit pro. Then take the time and try downloading a few free sofwares and its actually quite easy :)

    — Bam

  • Priscilla

    gravatarAug 4, 2010
    2:15 am

    I am looking for a program which would give me like a falling Danelion Seeds effect. I saw it on a photo and asked the photogrpher to share the info but no response. Can you help? BTW,I prefer the web based program better than the ones which I have to download. Thanks for your help!