Aviary Tools review

Aviary Tools follows the current trend for putting desktop image-processing applications online. We’ve already reviewed the Photoshop look-a-like Sumo Paint (September 2009) and we loved it. Aviary Tools has many of the same features, but this time there’s a full suite of applications aimed at web developers rather than online photo-editing fans. The result is very impressive.

There are five tools currently available in the suite, with Image Editor (Phoenix) and Vector Editor (Raven) at the core. Like Sumo Paint, Phoenix is a virtual Photoshop clone, with a toolbar on the left containing selection and drawing tools and a Layers palette on the right with blend modes built in. It’s not quite as fully featured as Sumo – but it looks the business with its slickly rendered icons and a choice selection of filters. It’s superb for basic photo-editing tasks and Flickr integration makes it even more useful.

Raven has a similar application layout to Phoenix. It’s one of the best attempts we’ve seen to translate a vector-drawing tool to the browser. In fact, it’s the only professional-standard implementation we currently know of. Compared to desktop tools – even freebies like Inkscape – it has a long slog ahead of it. Still, the simple tools on offer are ideal for button and icon creation.

Of the remaining three tools, two are geared towards web developers. Falcon is an Image Markup editor, allowing you to take screen grabs and add notations using a Firefox plug-in called Talon. You can also grab colour from pages using the same tool. Toucan is a Swatch Editor, very similar to Adobe’s online colour scheme manager Kuler (kuler.adobe.com). It does a great job and rounds out a brilliant tool set.

OUR VERDICT

Our favourite app is the last, Peacock. An image synthesiser, it’s the kind of creative, generative application you can lose days to if you’re not careful. It’s such a complete image-making suite that your old desktop tools may soon seem obsolete.

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