Tool Review: Picnik

Friday, December 03, 2010 at 10:06 am
Jennifer Dick's picture

With digital cameras quickly becoming a standard feature on cell phones (and therefore available almost everywhere) and photo integration being used by more types of websites, photo editing is no longer limited to professional photographers. Most of us don’t need a full-featured photo editor like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, though — simple exposure or color adjustments, red-eye reduction, and maybe a few fancy filter effects are sufficient for the average person. Enter Picnik, a free web-based photo editing application that can be used as a standalone or integrated with a fleet of photo hosting sites such as Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, and Photobucket.


Picnik offers basic editing functions (auto-fix, rotate, crop, exposure, colors, etc.), which are helpful for adjusting underexposed or poorly composed photographs. Where Picnik really shines,though, is in its set of creative tools. You can add text to your images and impose shapes (which they call “stickers”) that are updated regularly to include seasonally appropriate imagery like snowflakes and Santa hats. There is also a good selection of special effect filters (“effects”) which you can apply to your pictures for dramatic results. Like stickers, there’s a core library of choices with a handful of seasonally appropriate filters (in early November, they still had their Halloween effects with names like vampire eyes, zombify, and scary movies).

Sample Classroom & Youth Program Applications


  • All subjects: Have students document their process completing a project with photographs, and then adjust and crop to maximize visual impact.
  • English language arts: Youth take a picture that illustrates or symbolizes a key issue or theme related to the text they’re currently reading. They use Picnik’s tools and effects to heighten the visual impact of the photograph and further support the issue or theme depicted.
  • Math: Youth arrange objects to illustrate a word problem, take a picture, and use Picnik’s stickers to illustrate how to solve the problem.
  • Science: Have students create a photo album of examples of a concept being studied. For example, if they are learning about the water cycle, students could take pictures of rain, a puddle, and a cloud. Then, using the text and sticker tools in Picnik, they would label which stages and necessary elements of the water cycle are being shown.




  • Price Structure: Free and Premium (Premium subscriptions provide more tools, effects, stickers, fonts, batch loading, and unlimited photo history)
  • Pros:
    • Integrates with popular photo hosting and sharing sites
    • Free
    • Requires no registration
    • Available wherever you have an Internet connection
  • Cons:
    • Can’t be used offline

Do you use Picnik with your youth? Do you have any activity suggestions, tips, or tricks to share? Comment below or contact us!


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Type the characters you see in this picture. (verify using audio)
Type the characters you see in the picture above; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.