If you’ve been hesitant to dive into the world of photo editing beyond applying simple filters in Instagram, you might want to check out Pixlr. It’s a truly powerful online photo editing software program with loads of options that never overwhelm you with their complexity. The result is that even those new to the world of photo editing can get started fast, greatly improve or change their photos, and have fun doing so. Oh, and the best part? The program is completely free.
Pick a Pixlr path
Getting started with Pixlr begins with choosing either Pixler X, which is a more basic and easy-to-use version of the software, or Pixler E, which provides more tools, but might be a bit much for those new to photo editing. Both versions are free.
Next, simply open a photo, which you can do by either navigating to one stored on your device, or by entering a URL for a web-based image. Alternatively, you can start from scratch by selecting from one of Pixlr’s many blank templates which include handy specs for items including Icon, Instagram, Facebook Cover, and more. As if that wasn’t enough, Pixlr also integrates with free photo site Unsplash, so you can import any of those images to work on with a simple search and click.
Once you’ve got a project to work on, navigating your options is as easy as selecting one of the icons on the left. Hovering over each button pulls up a handy box with an illustration to tell you exactly which tools the icon will open. You have all of the usual photo editing tools here including resizing the canvas and photo, creating and working with layers, cropping, adding effects, and applying an impressive number of filters, which are combinable and controlled with slide bars. This all adds up to lots of creative freedom to get exactly the look you want.
Of particular note is Pixlr’s “Liquify” tool that allows you to swirl, enlarge, or shrink small portions of a photo for an impressive degree of fine tuning. Other options include a cutout tool, that lets you extract elements from the photo into other layers or delete them altogether; a “Retouch” suite that lets you dodge/burn, clone and heal any area of a photo; text insertion; and doodle tools including a variety of brushes, pens, shapes and an eraser.
Down the right side of the screen you’ll find your layers arranged in an easy-to-navigate strip.
When you’re done working with an image, you have the option to save or download your file in a variety of formats including JPG, PNG, and WEBP. A particularly appealing component of Pixlr is that the images you download are completely watermark free – so you don’t get roped into having to shell out cash after you get your creation just the way you want it.
That being said, Pixlr does offer two upgraded versions of the software – both of which eliminate the banner ads you’ll have to put up with if you use the free version. The Premium level costs $3.99 per month when paid on an annual basis and adds additional editing tools, including what the company calls “AI CutOut,” the ability to use the software’s “eye” to instantly remove backgrounds. On top of that, you get 3,000 additional overlays, 7,000 more stickers and icons, 5,000 decorative fonts and video tutorials. Stepping up to the Professional version, which costs $14.99/year based on an annual membership, increases the number of overlays to 28,000, and provides access to Pixlr’s own “Stock Content” which is a repository of over 10 million images, graphics, fonts, video clips and 3D files.
Whether or not you’ll need to upgrade really depends on how deep you want to go with photo editing. But signing up for the free version is certainly a smart step, and you just might find that it has all you need to add professional flare to your images.