Did you ever feel like you wanted to start learning Photoshop, but you didn’t want to begin that journey by shelling out $400+ for the software? A few weeks ago my colleague Adam Pocius introduced me to Pixlr, a free, online based program that is a great way for beginners to ease into photo manipulation without Photoshop’s high cost of entry. Pixlr doesn’t even require that you make an account with them, just go to website and start editing! So lets grab your neglected, poorly cropped photos and delve a little deeper into what Pixlr offers and learn how it can be a bridge to you becoming a Photoshop pro.
Pixlr’s philosophy is to give non-professionals a place online to quickly and easily work with digital images without the overwhelming amount of options and tools that can often scare away first time Photoshop users. They do this by having three levels of editing broken up by complexity. The lowest level of complexity is Pixlr-o-Matic which basically lets you add a few filters and borders to your images. Pixlr-o-matic is available at the Pixlr website, but can also be downloaded as an app for your phone or tablet, and is very similar to the app Instagram, in that it’s mostly used as a novelty. The second level is called Pixlr Express and this application has a very intuitive interface for making adjustments to your photos, applying effects, or adding text. If you just have a few photos that need simple corrections like taking away red-eye or adding some contrast, this is an efficient and easy way to do it. Pixlr Express does a good job of giving you options in a clear and easy to understand layout, but it doesn’t offer a lot of the tools you’d need for more complex editing or compositing. For those resources we need to use the advanced editing program, Pixlr Editor.
Editor is the real meat of the Pixlr editing suite and should be the focus of your efforts if you really want to be proficient at photo manipulation. Pixlr Editor will feel similar to Photoshop for anyone with experience in that program, but unlike Photoshop, Pixlr has paired down the staggering amount of complex options to the just the most useful. Many of the tools, options, panel layouts and even quick keys are identical to Photoshop though, so as you begin to learn Pixlr, in many ways, you are learning the basics of Photoshop.
Something to be aware of as you begin to work in the Pixlr environment is that program has no ‘offline mode’. Meaning that the responsiveness of the software is very dependent on your internet connection speed. The good thing about a program based online though is how quickly they can add new features and correct bugs. Pixlr prides themselves on listening to user feedback and making quick updates. Last year the company was purchased by graphics giant Auto Desk, so the stability of the program is as reliable as it’s ever been. From the time I’ve spent with it, I feel that Pixlr is great for anyone just starting out in the world of photo manipulation. The fact that this software is free and easily available online, gives anyone the ability to try out a Photoshop-like experience without the hassle or the upfront cost. You can try out Pixlr right now by going to www.Pixlr.com, and make sure to tell me your thoughts by posting in the comments.