The Rapid Elearning Blog

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - 5 free online image editors for elearning

In a previous post, we looked at five free desktop image editors.  Here are a couple of additional free desktop applications shared by some blog readers. They both look very capable.

A challenge with free software is that sometimes your organization isn’t comfortable with you downloading and installing applications that aren’t approved. This is where the online graphics applications come in handy. Of course, you’ll need an internet connection and hope that your organization isn’t blocking its use.

If you do a search, you’ll find that there are a lot of online image editing products. The problem is that many are spammy or full of ads that they’re useless for real work.

In today’s post we’ll look at five very capable online image editors. I tried to stay clear of the ones that were too ad heavy or seemed kind of spammy. I only added the apps I’d be comfortable using for my own work. 


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Aviary applications for elearning

Aviary has a few image editing tools and offers a pretty complete solution for most of what you need to do. They also have a very active user community which is a plus and lots of tutorials.

  • Aviary Feather is a basic image editing tool. You can crop, adjust the image, add some text, and apply filters.
  • Aviary Phoenix is a more robust application and close to something like Photoshop with the layering and more complex editing capabilities.
  • Aviary Raven is a vector editor similar to the free Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator.


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - pixlr for elearning

Pixlr has all of the standard features you’d need. I like some of the pencil drawing effects and it can output to Flickr and Picasa. I find it really easy to use and one of my favorites of the online tools. They also offer Pixlr Express, a streamlined editing tool.


The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Splashup image editor for elearning

Splashup is an image editing tool and photo manager. I like that I can bring in images from sites like Flickr and Picasa, which I already use. It has all of the core features you’d expect in an image editing application. They also offer Splashup Light for download.

Sumo Paint

The Rapid E-Learning Blog - Sumo Paint image editor for elearning

Sumo Paint is a very capable tool and comes with all of the core editing features. They also offer a Pro upgrade that gives you a desktop version with additional features.

Simpler Tools

The following tools are honorable mentions. They do a decent job with simple edits but don’t have all of the features of the applications above.

  • offers simple image editing, but not the layering that you get with its desktop cousins. 
  • Picnik is already integrated into a number of sites. You’ll find it in Flickr and Picasa.  It’s easy to use and has a lot of filters. Of course, I just found out that Picnik is being shut down. I believe that it will make its way back in Google+.
  • Dr.Pic seems to have all of the basic features. I like the framing feature. My guess is the Polaroid frame would work well with some elearning screens.

As you can see, there are plenty of options for free graphics editing. And you have a good choice between desktop applications like I mentioned in the previous post, or go with an online solution.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

18 responses to “5 Free Online Image Editors for Rapid E-Learning”

Thanks for this alternative list of editors that remain ungated!

FYI, Picnik is already integrated into Google+ in the Creative Kit (in your Google+ Images tools). Nearly the same interface… In April it is official, however, and perhaps more features will be enabled.

January 31st, 2012

Great post as always. Have you checked out for turning photos inot polaroid pictures?

Also when are you going to visit New England and share your knowledge with us?

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Off topic a tad but we use Aviary all the time for their audio editing tool Myna and sample track generator.

@Shawn: I’ve mentioned Poladorid in a previous post. I’m also working on a trip to Boston later in the year.

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Another useful alternative is portable software. While they do require a download, no registry keys or other settings should be left behind because they are never actually installed onto your computer. And you can take them with you on a thumb drive.

Gimp and Inkscape are both available as portables, and Dia, for diagramming, among a bunch of others, and not just photo editing either.

My favorite source for portable software is John Haller and the other voluteers do a great job; I’ve never had a security issue with any of their apps.


@Allen W: great tip. A few of the previously mentioned desktop apps allow that.

Hi Tom,
I can’t seem to find many articles / information online about designing elearning for kids. Would it be possible for you to tackle this subject sometime?
Thanks for all the priceless information on this blog .
Yvonne Mbanefo

February 7th, 2012

Hey thnx for sharing this. Actually manytimes when i used to write blog or while i am preparing some presentation they are quite useful. Earlier i used to do it with basic operating system apps but now i will use one of them.

You’ve got a wonderful list of suggestions for image editor that can be used. I’ve been using Pixlr for quite sometime now, but thank for bringing to notice Pixlr Express.

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