When it comes to image editing, there’s pretty much only one tool for the job: Adobe Photoshop. Adobe has been developing a technology called Flex, which allows software to run in your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser, and look just like software installed on your desktop or laptop machine. This very technology is allowing small startup firms to offer free software over the Internet, bypassing all the usual steps in the middle (publishing, distributing, etc.). It’s one of life’s little ironies, therefore, that software developed by the giant Adobe is now being used by tiny Davids attempting to bring the giant down…or, at least give him a bloody nose.
We’ve looked at a couple of these applications before (Sumo Paint and Aviary). Aviary came out with a good start in Phoenix, their image editor. Unfortunately, Phoenix is still little more than a bare-bones toy at this point, and Aviary is now charging a subscription fee while continuing to develop a dozen other applications. It may be awhile before Aviary turns its attention back to Phoenix and finishes developing it. Meanwhile, Sumo Paint, from Finland’s Snap Group, Ltd., has been making great strides at creating a free online Photoshop killer. Version 1.0 was recently released, and it looks very impressive.
While Adobe’s own online version of Photoshop, called Photoshop Express, is strictly in the “red-eye removal” category, Sumo is a full-fledged image editor. It has many of the tools familiar to Photoshop users: layers, clone stamp, brushes, pens, lasso, magic wand, and an image transformation tool for resizing. There is also a smudge tool, but unfortunately, as we reported back in August, it doesn’t work very well. On photographic portraits, it turns pixels brown while smearing. The “lighten” blend mode seems to work quite well, but only on light areas. Perhaps they’ll correct this in a new release. If Sumo had more advanced brush handling (and it does seem to be getting better), it might offer some serious competition for Corel Painter. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Sumo Paint.