How to Use Adobe Photoshop Express to Edit Photos Online
Online Photo Editing
Many online programs are very helpful tools for accomplishing a task on a computer. They often have good functionality and are frequently free to use. The Adobe Photoshop Express Editor is one of these useful and free programs.
Photoshop Express is a tool for improving a photo and for altering it with special effects. It doesn't have the wide range of photo editing tools that some of the other versions of Photoshop have, but it's fine for basic jobs and is fun to use. It may be the only image editing program that many people need.
The online version of the editor lets a user import one of their own photos, correct flaws in the photo, and add a few special effects via filters if desired. Other possible additions to the photo include text, fancy shapes, clip art, and frames. The user can save their edited photo on their hard drive or portable device.
The Adobe Photoshop Express Editor (the full name of the online program) requires Flash in order to run. If a computer or device is unable to run Flash, the editor can't be used and won't open. A free Photoshop Express app is available for mobile devices and Windows computers, however. More information about this app is given below.
The editor must be accessed from the photoshop.com/tools web page. Once a person goes to the page and clicks on "Start the Editor", the "Select a Photo to Edit" screen appears. This screen enables a person to upload one of their own photos stored on their computer. The photo must be in the JPEG format and must be no more than 16 megapixels in resolution.
When the image loads, two tabs appear on the left of the image—"Edit" and "Decorate". The names of the tabs change from white to blue when they're clicked and the appropriate menu appears below the tab.
The Edit menu lists the names of the Basic, Adjustments, and Effects tools. To select a tool, its name needs to be clicked. The Decorate menu lists the names of Graphics tools. Once again, a tool is chosen by being clicked.
Using Photoshop Express Online
The online version of Photoshop Express has the tools that would be expected in an image editing program. It works well for people who want to improve a photo and for those who would like to play with special effects and create digital art.
The editing tools operate in two ways. Some show a series of mini-photos (thumbnails) representing the different effects of the tool. The user clicks on a photo to choose the effect. Other tools operate via a slider, which lets the user choose the strength of the chosen effect.
The image can be zoomed up to 800% as a person works. There are multiple levels of undo and redo. The undo tab lets the user work backwards through their changes one step at a time, canceling each change. The redo tab works in the opposite direction, redoing each undo. There is also a reset tab at the bottom of the screen that lets the user return to the version of the photo that was first uploaded. When the "View Original" tab is clicked after the image has been edited, the original photo is temporarily visible.
It's a good idea to practice using the program with an unimportant photo to begin with. Once you've discovered how to use the tools, you'll be able to work more efficiently with the photo that you actually want to modify.
Basic Editing Tools
The Basic tools allow the user to accomplish the following:
- crop an image (remove the outer portion)
- rotate an image
- resize the image
- tell the program to auto-correct the image
- alter the exposure by making the photo darker or lighter
- remove red-eye by clicking on the center of the affected eye
- remove a small blemish in the photo via the touchup tool (which lets someone copy part of the image and paste it over the blemish)
- increase the color saturation
Tips appear when the mouse is hovered over a tool. In most cases, instructions for using a tool appear at the top of the screen when the tool is chosen.
How to Crop and Resize a Photo in Photoshop Express Editor
The Touchup Tool in the Edit Menu
Using the touchup tool effectively requires a little practice. The steps in using the tool are as follows.
- Drag a circle over the area that needs to be retouched. This circle is green in color.
- A red circle appears next to the green circle.
- Drag the red circle to the image area that you want the program to copy.
- When the mouse is released, the copied section of the image is pasted over the area that needs to be retouched.
Adjustments Editing Tools
The Adjustments tools allow a person to make further changes to a photo and do the following jobs.
- Shift colors or remove a color cast with the white balance tool.
- Add light via the highlight or fill light tools.
- Make a section lighter by clicking and dragging over the section using the dodge tool.
- Make a section darker by clicking and dragging over the section using the burn tool.
- Sharpen the photo.
- Blur the photo by using the soft focus tool.
The dodge and burn tools have had the word "Beta" beside them for a very long time. This seems to be a clue that not much work is being put into the program. Fortunately, it works well in its current state.
Creating Special Effects
The special effects filters in the online editor are somewhat limited, but it's fun to experiment with the ones that are included. It's also fun to combine different filters.
The Crystallize and Pixelate filters provide texture by giving the photo a blocky or a speckled appearance. Pop Color, Hue, Black and White, and Tint change the colors. The Sketch filter doesn't really make the photo look like a sketch but can produce an interesting effect. The Distort filter stretches and swirls the area that is chosen.
The Decorate Menu
I find the text tool the most useful part of the Decorate section of the image editor, although it's not very versatile. There are only nine fonts to choose from. The text color, opacity, and alignment can be altered. The angle and size of the text can be changed with controls on the text box. A drop shadow can be chosen to make the text stand out slightly, but the amount of shadow can't be increased. Text can also be added to a photo in a bubble or on a sticky.
The other Decorate tools are fun to play with but may not be necessary, unless someone wants to create an entertaining image for a special event. The decorations aren't suitable for business or professional use and are mostly clip art and cartoon-type images. There are a few picture frames that may be useful, however.
Once the user is satisfied with the look of their photo, they need to click the "Done" tab. The user is then prompted to save the edited photo. The photo can be saved on the user's computer or on a device recognized by the computer.
Advantages of the Online Photo Editor
The online editor is a useful program and is fun and easy to use. It's helpful for someone who doesn't have much disk space to store image editing software. It's also helpful for someone who needs an image editor and can't afford one or doesn't want to buy one. A person who doesn't own their own camera and would like to edit the copyright-free photos that are available at various websites should also find the program useful.
Yet another advantage of the online editor is it can be used when a person needs to edit a photo while they are away from their home or office. If the computer that they're using doesn't have an image editor installed, they can use the free online version of Photoshop Express (as long as the computer has Internet access).
An App for Computers, Tablets, and Phones
Photoshop Express Editor won't run on mobile devices unless they have a browser that incorporates a Flash player. I've found that even then the program may not work properly. One solution for this problem is to download the free Photoshop Express App. The app is available for the iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems.
For a long time, I was able to use the iOS version of the Photoshop Express app like any other application on my iPad. Currently, however, a user must sign into a free Adobe account or sign in with Facebook or Google if they want to use the app. The same condition applies on a Windows computer and probably on an Android device, too, which I haven't tried.
The app provides more features than the online image editior, including utilitarian and artistic filters, frames, and borders. It also provides cropping, resizing, rotating, blemish removal, and red-eye and pet-eye correction tools.
Some people may not want to share personal data with Adobe in order to create an account. The online editor provides fewer features but more anonymity.
Purchased Versus Free Programs
Adobe sells other image editors that are much more capable than their online program or their downloadable app. These are suitable for professionals, semi-professionals, and advanced amateurs. Another advantage of the programs besides their capabilities is that software that is paid for tends to be updated more often than free software. As far as I can tell, the online photo editor hasn't been updated for several years. Nevertheless, the free programs are all that many people need. They're fun to play with and do useful jobs as well. It's certainly worth experimenting with free software before purchasing an image editing program.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Does the Adobe Photoshop app create cartoon pictures?
No, it doesn't at the moment. It's meant for photo editing and can create some interesting effects, but it doesn't create cartoon pictures. I don't know whether there are plans to eventually integrate this ability into the online app. I doubt it, because the app is free. I expect it will stick to some useful but relatively basic features.
© 2013 Linda Crampton