In this follow-up to my initial article about browser-based Photopea, a free Photoshop alternative, I used the online tool to bash together a quick Halloween poster. It seems rather odd to be doing one this late. For years the work schedule had me doing holidays at least three months in advance. For Christmas maybe even four or five months. It really was Christmas in July back then.
I was basically marooned in the backyard studio because things were going on in the house that did not require my presence. Also known as staying out of the way. Besides… I could hear those evil beasts… vacuum cleaners… running rampant inside. Best I take heed and comfort in the little shed out back whilst Beowulf slays Grendel inside the longhouse.
I had Photoshop available but instead, I went to Photopea because I’m getting more familiar with it, and I admit I was a bit harsh in the first installment. This application IS like Photoshop in more ways than it isn’t. What is most impressive to me. What gets my attention as a user is one huge fact:
I forget I’m using an online editor.
For my workflow, that is a big compliment to the user experience. I’ve got a lot of years under my belt, and I don’t want to screw around so the more accustomed to my current workflow a program is… the more apt I am to embrace it.
I’m also not a lover of online applications as I live in an underserved area in regard to internet broadband. Applications like MetaHuman may or may not load completely. Even when apps do load the lag can drive you mad… or make you mad… take your pick.
Created with Photopea by the Author
I hopped over to Digital Juice (yes… I still keep an account there from the old video editing days) and downloaded some holiday elements in poster format. A great head start as some elements are already composited and I can choose or mix and match what to use.
First I dragged and dropped a background in just as I would in desktop-based Photoshop. It was ready to go almost immediately. Just a slightly slower experience than working on the desktop versus browser-based.
After this, I started adding elements from other posters. The background was a dull brown, earth-tone color that suited the mood. Many of the elements I brought in were full color and in some cases a bright orangish-red.
I was able to composite and blend these elements just as I would in Photoshop and soon forgot that I was not only working online but I was using something other than Photoshop. And… it’s free!
I dragged, dropped, blended, erased, and positioned items and effects just as I would working in Photoshop. There was a noticeable shortcut annoyance in one area. Resizing, which is a common tool. The shortcut (Alt-T) I’ve used all these years invokes a new browser window in Brave instead of resizing, scaling, or warping. I still end up invoking new browser windows each time I use it but I’m getting better. That rote memory is hardheaded.
Everything from desaturating to black & white filters were in familiar places and again… I started to forget that I was working in a browser and not on a desktop let alone forget I wasn’t in Photoshop. It still isn’t an exact experience of Photoshop but that is to be expected being browser-based such as the upload, download lags but that very little of the time spent using the program.
Considering the budget crunch of the pandemic and the image editor being online it has two strengths that check a lot of people’s boxes: it’s free and convenient. Two words that go together as well as any in the English language.
Another big plus for me. I’ve downloaded my work as PSD files and have yet to create an account. I’m not exactly burning up the hours using it, but it is, just as I suspected, working its way into my workflow.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.