capsule review

Splashup Online Photo Editor

At a Glance
  • Faux Labs Splashup

    PCWorld Rating

    Mimics Photoshop with amazing fidelity, including layer support; but it's less usable than the best, and short on flashy effects.

If an award existed for "Web Image Editor Most Likely to Be Mistaken for Photoshop," Splashup (formerly known as Fauxto) would win in a cakewalk. Drop-down menus, floating tool palettes, and multiple features are located exactly as in Adobe's flagship product. That's not an inherent plus, though--after all, Photoshop is notorious for having a less-than-intuitive interface, and I found FotoFlexer and Picnik easier to navigate.

More impressive are features that are standard in traditional desktop image editors but still refreshing surprises on the Web. Splashup is the only editor in the present roundup that lets you select part of an image and apply an effect to it alone, and it implements layers in Photoshop-like fashion, letting you stack several images into one file and apply different effects to each layer. (It uses its own file format so that you can edit layers and elements when you open an image again later.) You can also open multiple photos at once; you don't have to save one before opening the next.

Too bad it has no documentation; the Launch Help item in the Help menu is permanently grayed out. And for all of the service's sophistication in some areas, it's short on tools for folks who want to add pizzazz to photos with a few clicks: It offers far fewer special effects than most competitors do, and you can't add borders or clip art. I also missed the dozens of jazzy fonts available in FotoFlexer and Picnik; Splashup has only 12 (all mundane), and they max out at 72 points, on the small side for high-resolution photos. Support for photo-sharing sites is relatively skimpy, too--it hooks into three, versus eight apiece for FotoFlexer and Picnik.

Splashup was less sprightly and more glitchy than some rivals. Images in a Flickr album appeared slowly, and sometimes didn't open at all.

Splashup's creators say a new version is in the works. But for now, unless you're a fanatical devotee of the Photoshop approach to things, FotoFlexer and Picnik have more to offer.

See our chart of the editors, and our slide show.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Mimics Photoshop with amazing fidelity, including layer support; but it's less usable than the best, and short on flashy effects.

    Pros

    • Photoshop-like layer and selection tools.

    Cons

    • Speed and reliability issues
    • Relatively few effects; no online help
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