Anyone who knows anything about digital art knows Photoshop. Photoshop has long been an industry standard for designers. So much so, in fact, that it just about has a monopoly on the graphic artist market.
Art teachers are well aware of this application’s abilities. There isn’t an art teacher out there who doesn’t want his or her students utilizing this great tool. However, technical roadblocks, as well as budget issues, can hinder an art teacher’s ability to procure this coveted technology. Before you abandon the vision, consider the free alternative.
Pixlr Editor is a free, online Photoshop alternative that can stand up to its competition. From the first click, Pixlr is full of options. It offers the user the choice of creating a new image, opening an image from the computer, or even opening an image from a URL.
If you have used Photoshop before, Pixlr will look very familiar. The tool bar on the left offers all the standard capabilities you would expect from a graphics application. Pencil, brush, eraser, paint bucket and gradients are all available along with some of the heavy hitters like the smudge tool, the clone stamp, and the spot heal tool.
The right side menus are a little lighter but do include the Navigator, History and most importantly, Layers. The layers palette has all the functionality you’d receive from Photoshop including opacity, modes, layer styles and even masks.
If you are accustomed to adjustments in Photoshop, again, you will not be disappointed. Hue & Saturation, Brightness & Contrast and Color Vibrance are available as well as Curves, Levels and even Threshold for those of you that enjoy making stencils.
While Pixlr can’t brag about surpassing Photoshop’s filters, it does offer a decent selection of the top filters like Gaussian blur, Sharpen and, my personal favorite, Glamour Glow.
When you’re done, Pixlr offers several saving formats including JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF and PXD, the Pixlr image format that allows you to return to editing layers. Over all this is an outstanding application to work with and considering the price tag (free), it’s definitely within an art teacher’s budget.
Do you have Photoshop available at your school? Do you wish you did?
Are there other free graphics programs out there worth mentioning? Let us know!