Fotor lets you get creative with your photos
It’s been said that the world would be a better place if everybody knew how to edit their photos. Okay, fine, I just made that up. But it’s true, though — images are so much a part of our digital lives that being able to post quality pictures has become a necessary skill. And with the wide range of easy-to-use imaging apps available for every platform, there’s really no excuse for using poor, boring images anymore.
Today we’re taking a look at a new player in the editing game, and it’s called Fotor. With its array of tools and effects, this app offers plenty of scope for adding a creative touch to your shots. And while it’s simple enough for novices to get into, Fotor is also a great option for those familiar with photography, to work quickly with images wherever they are. Let’s dive in!
Fotor is a photo editing app that’s suitable for users looking to spice up their pictures for use on the web or for creative craft projects. Whether you want to give your photos a vintage look, add fancy borders, create a collage or simply fix some tones, Fotor has you covered. It’s free to use online, works with most modern browsers that run Flash, supports JPG, GIF and PNG, and exports images as JPGs.
Fotor doesn’t require you to sign up to begin using it, so you can get started as quickly as you can find photos to edit. You can search for them on your computer or your Facebook or Flickr accounts, or simply paste a URL of any image on the web. You’ll then find that you’ll be spoilt for choice with the number of tools that Fotor puts at your disposal, and that’s when the fun begins.
The UI features a dual pane toolbar on the left, thumbnails of all the photos (you can upload many at once) for your session on the right and a workspace in the middle. From the toolbars above and below your current image, you can undo or redo your last action, compare your work to the original photo or revert to it to start over, and quickly resize images to appropriate dimensions depending on whether you want to share them online or print them out.
Shots from digital cameras most always need a few tweaks to look their best, and Fotor offers several ways to improve them. You can quickly adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness using the respective sliders, and similarly fix exposure, highlights, shadows, color temperature and tint as necessary. There’s also a curves panel to play around with for adjusting highlights, mids and shadows.
You can make basic fixes with Fotor too — crop, straighten, or resize (by specifying pixel dimensions, maintaining proportions or using percentages). Another useful feature in this section is the 1-Tap Enhance, which fixes your shot in an instant. I’ve found this to work well for most photos, so go ahead and try that if you’re working on multiple pictures and are in a hurry.
Fotor packs over 50 effects grouped into six sets: Classic, Lomo, Vintage, Cool, B&W and Funky. While many of the effects are similar to each other, there are subtle variations and I recommend that you experiment a bit to find your favorites. I particularly liked Virginia, Angel’s Kiss, Dusk, Toy (Lomo), Mildness, Pittsburgh, Nostalgic, Walden, Earlybird and Gray Popper. Each effect’s thumbnail shows a preview of the effect on your image, and the strength can be adjusted too.
If you’d like to dress up your shots, you can do so by adding a frame — Fotor has over 20 styles to choose from, including Film Edge-, Gallery- and Stamp-type borders. The range includes simple frames such as an Old TV-style rounded rectangle, and even elaborate borders like Cleopatra (with leather corners). And if you need consistent frames for website images, you can customize them in simpler styles to the pixel.
HDR (explained beautifully here) takes a lot of practice to get right, but isn’t actually only for pros. There are a number of situations where even amateurs could benefit from applying this technique and but Fotor makes it really easy to get good results — all you’ve to do is upload three shots of the same scene at different exposures and voila, instant HDR!
Overlays and text
As with most photo apps, Fotor too comes with a bunch of scalable clipart-style graphics to add to your photos, helpfully grouped into categories like Wedding, Family, Travel and even Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. They’re easy to add to your photos but they don’t look great (and this actually goes for overlays in general) and the selection could do with more usable designs like geometric shapes, text bubbles and support for uploadable watermark images.
The Text tool is competent enough and allows you to use any of the fonts installed on your computer to add captions or quotes to your pictures. It’d be great if this tool allowed users to add image descriptions/credits in various elegant styles, such as on a strip above or below the image.
Get creative with the Brush
Fotor has a few useful features that require you to paint over your image, including Color Splash, which selectively retains color; Mosaics, which pixelates areas to obscure details (like logos); and Big Aperture, which selectively retains sharpness, giving the effect of Depth of Field that wide-aperture lenses are capable of. These work well enough, but the Big Aperture tool is yet to allow users to choose from a range of apertures to simulate.
Create a collage
Collages are a fun way of sharing a bunch of photos, and make for great Twitter and Facebook cover images too. Fotor offers a number of ways to put together collages using your pictures, including a drag-and-drop Template mode, Photo Stitching mode which places your shots on a single canvas of a configurable size and a Free Collage which stacks your photos whimsically on any of Fotor’s 30-odd backgrounds.
There’s a lot to like about this app — it’s easy to learn and use, performs very well and has a ton of tools that come in handy when editing images for the web or to print. Its closest competitor would probably be PicMonkey (which we reviewed in August and loved), to whom Fotor would lose in a features battle. However, Fotor’s effects are really nice, and offer greater variety and quality than PicMonkey. The HDR tool works very well too, so much so that I’d consider using this instead of a desktop app once in a while. And it doesn’t hurt that you can export photos to your computer, Flickr, Twitter or Facebook (while saving to an existing album if you want to).
Fotor is a great photo editing suite that’s easy to recommend, especially at the price of free — but is missing a few features (such as touch-up brushes and batch functions) and flexibility, particularly with the Collage tools. Other than that, it’s a great app that’s perfect for budding photographers and craft project junkies who want great results but don’t want to mess with a full-blown app like Adobe Photoshop.
I rated Fotor just below PicMonkey because the former needs a little polish, but bear in mind that the app is still in beta and so will see improvements before it’s officially launched. If you’re looking to give your photos a new lease of life with creative filters or want to have some fun with your latest shots, give this a try.