Photopea is free Photoshop on the web

the Photopea logo

Photopea is a web-based image editor that some claim is the equivalent of Photoshop. While I’m sure this is not 100% true, it comes awfully close to what I remember Photoshop being like. Let’s see how it holds up. 

Background Info on Photopea 

Ivan Kutskir's profile photo from Twitter

Photopea began development in 2012 by programmer Ivan Kutskir based in the Czech Republic. He has continued to add features and promote Photopea on social media. The developer stated that he wanted a photo editor that had creative tools similar to Photoshop but available in the web browser. This way, Photopea could run on any operating system, unlike Adobe’s software which is restricted to Windows and macOS. It also supports the .PSD file format as well as RAW and many others. 

First Impressions 

The interface 

I threw three random photos into Photopea and decided to mess around with them seeing if I could become familiar with the interface and tools. I had a screenshot of the old AIM software, a high-resolution version of the Windows XP wallpaper, and a random photo of Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara. The setup closely resembles Photoshop, or at least what I remember it looking like. If anyone has used Paint.net, Affinity Photo, or any other photo editor, they probably won’t have any trouble.  

Screenshot of the main Photopea interface
Can you believe it? This is in a browser!

One minor thing that slowed me down was the font selector. I don’t know what the current font selector in Photoshop is like these days, but Photopea allows you to choose from so many. I would say it’s really overwhelming to the point where I was spending too much time looking for usual fonts. Yes, there is an option to deselect all and choose categories of fonts such as serif and sans serif. Even doing this, I found the lists way too long to scroll through. There is an option to star fonts you like so it’s easier to bring them up next time, so that helps mitigate the problem.

Screenshot demonstrating the font selector
The list is overwhelmingly long

When going through some of the menus adjusting effects, I kept having trouble choosing a color and then clicking OK. What had happened was there is no outline between windows, so I kept clicking a window in the foreground. 

Screenshot demonstrating how the windows are difficult to discern
As you can see here, it’s really difficult to differentiate between what is in the foreground and background. Perhaps a more vivid window outline would help.

Performance 

Well, this app runs in the web browser, which means it’s not going to have the same speed and responsiveness as a native program on your machine. Adding effects didn’t seem to take long enough, surprisingly. I think the only time I was annoyed with the lag was a short wait when changing fonts for text. If dealing with super large image sizes, I could see things slowing down even more.  

Features 

I went in expecting to be disappointed, but I was gladly surprised by how much Photopea supported right in the browser. I was able to take the photo of Satomi Ishihara and erase the background using the smart background eraser. I didn’t expect a web app to be that sophisticated. I then applied a Gaussian blur to the background and added some text with effects. 

Test image created in Photopea
Nostalgic to see the old AOL Instant Messenger coupled with the Windows XP wallpaper

Text Handling 

One feature I always check for in photo editors is how they handle text. Many of the editors I’ve tried let you add some basic text with color and that’s about it. What I loved about Photoshop back in the day was the ability to add stroke color and things like drop shadows. Photopea came through on this one. I was able to add a white stroke to the font as well as a drop shadow.  

I went to make a new project and wouldn’t you know it, there were TEMPLATES! Being able to start from one of the offered templates is great for people like me who prefer working from a base rather than from scratch. 

templates offered by photopea

Final Thoughts on Photopea 

I started out thinking I was going to walk away disappointed, but overall, I was very impressed by Photopea. It’s not something that I would use on a daily basis, but having access to the equivalent of Photoshop from any device on any operating system is extremely useful. After looking at the developer’s Twitter feed, I can also see that it is in constant development and always improving. 

There is the free version which is ad supported and supports up to 30 undo actions. If you go for the paid option, it removes the ads and the undo limit is increased to 60.

paid and free options

If you’re at all familiar with Photoshop or something similar, give this a try. It might take a little bit to adjust to the layout or controls, but once you do, you have a pretty powerful photo editor right in your browser.  

Link: Go try it!

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