Chromebooks are fantastic machines. As the quality of the apps in the Chrome Web Store improves they’re becoming increasingly capable of doing everything that your primary PC or Mac can do, but for a fraction of the cost. Their security, ease of use, and portability is rapidly making them a popular choice for schools, businesses, and university students – all of whom are taking note of their advantages.
In the previous piece in this series we looked at how, contrary to some people’s opinions, Chromebooks can play Google Play movies and television shows when offline. The latest installment in our mini-series looks at the wide choice of high quality photo editors that are available to all Chrome users.
Sumo Paint is one of the most full-featured painting and image editing applications available to Chromebook users. It boasts an impressive repertoire of 570,000 registered members and over 2,000,000 images, meaning you’ll benefit from an exciting community which aims to “create, share, remix, explore, comment, and rate the artwork of its members“.
Sumo Paint is probably as close to Photoshop as you’ll be able to get on your Chromebook. It uses a menu bar that is similar to Photoshop’s, and offers typical editing features such as blur, smudge, gradient fill, line tools, clone and custom shapes. It comes with all the layering tools you need to create professional images, and has an array of cool filters.
If you’ve always found Photoshop a bit confusing, Sumo Paint once again proves to be a good choice. It offers an extensive community-curated help file, which provides in-depth information on what the tools are and how they work, and even includes simple graphics to illustrate points.
The only drawback? You’ll need to upgrade to the pro version to be able to work offline.
Pixlr Touch Up
Where Sumo Paint fails, Pixlr Touch Up succeeds – namely, it works offline.
This isn’t the full-featured, Photoshop-esque program that Sumo Paint is, but if you want to do some basic photo editing, it’s much better than the minimalist default editor that comes preinstalled on Chromebooks.
It underwent a major overhaul in early 2014, adding over 100 new features and effects, including much-requested tools such as sharpen and blur. These were added to existing editing tools such as resizing, adding effects, enhancing colour, adjusting brightness and contrast, and altering focus – thus making one of the most powerful offline editors for Chromebooks.
While Pixlr Touch Up and Sumo Paint are both for more seriously-minded people, PicMonkey takes a more light-hearted approach to photo editing.
There are three main functions to the program – edit, design, and collage. Editing will let you crop, resize, add text, and alter colours, as well as things like removing red-eye and whitening teeth. Design lets you start with a blank canvas and create a picture from scratch, while collage gives you the ability to stitch several photos together to make a single larger photo.
The collage feature is the most fun, and is extremely easy to use. There are lots of pre-made templates, meaning you don’t have to worry about spacing, and it works by using a simple drag-and-drop operation.
Its biggest let-down is its text options. It has no option for a stroke or any kind of gradient. It means if you want to create a drop shadow you’ll have to create a duplicate layer and offset it – it’s nowhere near as polished as Photoshop.
Pixlr Editor is Sumo Paint’s biggest rival and is the only other app that comes close to replicating a true Photoshop experience on a Chromebook. Like Sumo Paint, it cannot be used offline, but its vast range of features mean either this or its rival should constitute a ‘must-have’ in your app tray.
All the basic functions for control of colour, tonality, sharpening and resizing are provided, plus a set of useful filters. Like Photoshop, you can also merge layers, add masks or tweak opacity and amount. Although photos are edited using an online program, finished products can be saved locally for easy distribution.
Its biggest criticism has always been its treatment of RAW files – they must first be opened in a stand-alone converter and the converted file then imported into Pixlr. Other supported formats include JPEG, GIF, PSD, PNG and BMP.
As of summer 2014 Pixlr has had a desktop version available for Windows and Mac – so you can use the same program across all your machines to simplify your experience.
Polarr Photo Editor is probably the most complete offline photo editor available, possessing more options than the aforementioned Pixlr Touch Up.
Like the other professional-looking programs listed here, the app is feature-rich. It includes adjustments for colour temperature, exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, clarity, and HSL channels, as well as the possibility to add watermarks and signatures.
The developers have also promised that RAW support will be available in the next version which gives a big advantage over Pixlr, especially when considered alongside its ability to read JPEG files up to 30 megapixels.
What Do You Use?
Which photo editors do you use on your Chromebook? Are you an advocate of one of our selections, or do they fail to meet your needs?
What about other things that you can do on a Chromebook? Do you always find yourself correcting people who mistakenly believe a certain task is not possible to undertake on Google’s devices?
Let us know in the comments below!