Alternates to Picnik (or free image editing software)

Posted on January 22, 2012


Everyone who uses Picnik already knows that Google is closing the doors on Picnik later this year. It was a only a matter of time because Google already owns Picassa, and I was expecting that these features would be rolled into an online version of Picassa. After Googles announcement of closing Picnik’s doors, they have indicated that some of the features will be rolled into the Google Plus social network product, but it is unclear how much or to what extent they will move the site into the Google Plus network.

This leaves quite a few people without a way to edit their images if they relied solely on Picnik. I was talking to a model and friend who was worried she wouldn’t be able to edit images anymore that she creates. With that, I have used a few other services that were free (two still are and I am not sure about the other). So, this entry will be covering some different options available to those individuals who were using Picnik.

The service that is most like Picnik is You can even edit images that you already have uploaded to Picassa, Facebook, Flikr, MySpace, Photobucket, and others. Fotoflexer is fairly intuitive and easy to use. It offers many options that were found on Picnik, including morphing, layers, retouching, fonts, and the like.

Another online service is . You can edit images you upload, from Facebook, or capture on your video camera. Again, there are similar effects that you would find on Picnik, just not as many. Ipiccy is also very easy to use and is actually a little easier than FotoFlexer because it doesn’t have all the different options and lack of import options.

For those that want the most complex and difficult to use (read: for those who aren’t happy with anything but Photoshop), there is a service called . Even if you aren’t, there is a easy to use “express” tool and automatic tool, too. This service gives you LOTS of tools like you find in Photoshop but just not nearly all the features as it is run from online, and needed to be stripped down to the bare minimum for performance reasons. Even so, there are a lot of options including painting options. If you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, you can also load the web page on your phone and edit images from it.

Another package that some of my friends have indicated is a good service to use in a pinch and is a lot like Photoshop is SplashUp. I personally haven’t use this service.

So, what if you don’t want to use an online service anymore? Glad you asked. There are many free software packages that you can download and use to edit images. The first is Google’s flagship product, Picassa. It is mostly easy to use but know it can be invasive to your hard disk. Picassa has a “face recognition” package built in and tries to sort and identify everyone in your photos. This will take some CPU cycles and also stores that data on your hard disk. If you have a lot of images, that data can be substantial.

Another good and free package is It is more complex and doesn’t manage your images for you. It is a lot like Photoshop in features, but doesn’t have all the features and functions that you find in more costly editors, but it does come close. Something else to realize is that this is an open source project, and is under constant development (if you want to see the code, you can even download it and suggest changes to the code). Some of the other packages listed here will be the same with them being open source packages.

Since we are talking about OpenSource, the definitive open source editor is GIMP or “Gnu Image Manipulation Project”. It was designed from the start to be a competitor to Photoshop. GIMP has a format that can be used that is very close to Photoshop called GimpShop, so if you already know Photoshop, it makes using it a lot easier. It isn’t refined as you find Photoshop, but it does work and comes close to what you can do with Photoshop. It is limited to editing 8-bit images, though. If you want to edit images of a larger bit depth, Cinepaint is the product you want to use. It is a fork (read: split) in the design of GIMP. The bad news is if you have MS Windows, there isn’t a stable version available (and hasn’t been for over six years).

Getting into the Freeware catagory, one of the most highly recommended packages is . Some people have tried this package and told me is is very hard to use and difficult, yet there are so many more people who have stuck with it and swear by this package. I haven’t used it, so I can’t give you my two cents on it. Someone who I trust says it gives you all the features that you find in Picnik, except you do it on your local machine.

Finally, there is Pixia. This is a software package that was developed in Japan but is very easy to use and offers the minimal image editing capabilities.

I hope this gives you some idea of some options to Picnik, and that if you relied on it, there are some options for you.