Autodesk takes a break from being a CAD to make an image editor
Pixlr has existed as a browser-based image editor for a while, but Autodesk (of AutoCAD fame) has now made it free – initially – as a desktop app.
The Starter edition is free to download, and contains useful tools such as crop, straighten, red-eye removal and a handy healing brush to remove spots and blemishes from your photos. Sign up for a free account, and the app morphs into its Essentials edition, which adds a few more options and a clever double exposure mode that blends two images. Give Autodesk some money in a yearly subscription, however, and you receive the Pro edition, which brings the ability to apply effects within selections rather than to the whole image.
Any version will give you the Stylize and Overlay menus, which you can use to create some striking art. Their array of one-shot filters and images that blend with your original need to be downloaded before they’re available, which helps keep the app size down and doesn’t affect your workflow too much provided you’re connected to the internet, and can be previewed before they’re applied. There’s no Save option, only Save As, so your creations will always be exported as a new file.
It feels churlish to criticise free software for a lack of features, but such a criticism isn’t appropriate here. While not comparable to the featureset of say, GIMP, the ability to crop and straighten, then apply filters or otherwise jazz up images, is popular and, although Pixlr doesn’t have direct connections with social media, sharing on Facebook is just a few clicks away.
Pixlr won’t replace Photoshop Elements, but it’s powerful enough, has some interesting features and, importantly, is free. Ian Evenden
This is a competent desktop image editor. Pixlr is well worth a try in its basic form – and let’s not forget the fact that it’s free.