Aviary: Online Design Tools

on Thursday, April 8, 2010

Aviary (http://aviary.com/)is a suite of seven free browser-based design tools: Phoenix (a Photoshop-like image editor), Toucan (a color picker and color palette generator), Peacock (a very fun visual effects editor), Raven (a vector graphics editor), Talon (a screen capture tool), Falcon (an image markup tool) and Myna (a multi-track audio editor).

While the bird related names for the various tolls might be a little overly cute, the tools are for the most part easy to use and well designed (my seven year old daughter figured out how to use the image editor in minutes). Each tool has an introductory video and many video tutorials. Talon, the screen capture tool, can be incorporated into Firefox with an add-on. You can store your work either on the Aviary "cloud" or save it back to your own computer when you are done (recommended; see the last paragraph).

While all the tools are free, registration is required for some features (username, password, email address). There used to be a $25/yr pro version, but now everything is free.

Two drawbacks that I found: any work you do can be used for display by Aviary, although you will be listed as the creator. For example, your art could be used as an image for a third-party news article about Aviary. Also, if you store your work online with Aviary, they will place a watermark in the lower left hand corner. This watermark can be avoided, however, if you download your work directly to your desktop, rather than storing it with Aviary.

Other than those drawbacks, it's a wonderful design suite. Aviary does most of the chores performed by the costly Adobe Creative Suite, does them online, and for free!

Thanks to Darrin Goodman for the tip.


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