Aviary Design Suite

This isn't bird flu, but it is viral.  If you have ever wanted to learn how to use Photoshop, Illustrator or Soundbooth and not pay thousands of dollars then you might want to check out the great suite of tools available at Aviary.com.  Did I mention all these tools work online without downloads right in your web browser?!

They have about five to seven useful tools on this site.  An image editor much like earlier versions of Photoshop.  A vector editor, again much like Adobe's Illustrator.  And finally a new audio editor that kind of reminds me of the old FruityLoops meets Soundforge with a similar feel of a basic Nuendo.  Each tool is in beta form, but all work very well without hiccups on a decent computer on a broadband internet connection.  I'm not sure how much a slower internet connection would effect these programs performance, but I would imagine it would cause some frustration.  You could always try it, but be prepared to make a sandwich if load times are slow.

Phoenix Image Editor

aviary_phoenixI am really impressed on two levels with this online application.  The first being that some people have given so much to create an application that runs online with so much power for image editing.  The second is that it even works.  It truly gave me that new discovery feeling when I tried it for the first time.  My mind quickly raced to new heights imagining editing from anywhere even on vacation and also the thought of the world throwing away computers and using all applications from online terminals while dancing to the sound of Daft Punk.  While all that is theoretically possible the work flow is still lacking that quick desktop feel and some features I have grown to love from Photoshop. Even though some things are missing the developers of the Phoenix Image Editor have managed to place some of the revolutionary features Photoshop included over the years in their photo editing application.  I would gauge the Image Editor to be somewhere between Photoshop 3 and 5 overall with at least one thing that was only about after 7 unless I am mistaken.  It will not be as fast as Photoshop and not nearly as powerful as the latest versions of CS, but I think that a budding photo editor could learn the basics while creating some very powerful art with this tool.  The fact that it has functional layers is simply amazing, but it also has something similar to Photoshop's Smart Layers that that makes this suite even more powerful.  It is much more than novelty in the hands of the right designers.

Raven Vector Editor

aviary_ravenRaven is very similar in quality to Phoenix.  It has all the makings of a great vector editing application and it also works completely online.  For me vector editing is about fluid lines and being able to manipulate curves as easy as possible.  This is where I think Raven is lacking because the basic shortcut keys that are used in illustrator to manipulate curves while creating new vectors are simply not there.  So you will have to create the base vector and then go back and refine your lines for more advanced shapes.  This is only a minor inconvenience.  The budding designer can still learn a lot from this application and in doing that I think Raven has accomplished its goal.

Toucan Color Editor

I simply love the name given to this color editor.  It reminds me of Froot Loops in the morning before school accept without getting crunched gums from abrasive action.  The truth is this is probably one of the most useful tools for designers both advanced and budding.  Although there are other tools out there like Kuler that do this I haven't seen one that gives the user an easy way to visualize what an audience of color difficent subjects would see.  I have friends with color vision difficencies and this is pretty cool to view what they would see.

Peacock Visual Laboritory

Aviary CreationThis is a neat tool to have online.  Almost anyone can start with a photo or group of photos and input them into this nifty machine and get results.  It's a filter based effects generator with an almost infinate number of effects that can be used to create a single output file. This is a quick example of what you can create.  Obviously I didn't spend more than a minute or two doing this, so you can imagine that with some fooling around you can create some pretty cool stuff with little effort.  Aviary almost always includes example files so you can get an idea of how to use their software by example.

Falcon Image Markup

aviary_markupIt's worth mentioning that Falcon makes image markup fun and surprisingly refined with almost no effort.  I added a file into it and within seconds had a bunch of fancy looking arrows pointing at nothing and some good looking text.  If you had to send a file to someone that pointed at the obvious then this tool would really help you.  I think the arrows really sell me.

Myna Audio Editor

As if image editing wasn't enough Aviary is expanding to audible birds now.  Myna is a fairly advanced audio editor in your web browser.  I am not an avid user of advanced audio applications, but I would say that myna has just about all you would need to create a mixed track or even a pretty cool song with some loops.  I had no idea what a myna was until i looked it up and i spent more time amazed by an actual myna bird then playing with tracks in the Audio Editor.  Anyone with a little talent and a good ear could probably create some pretty awesome stuff with this.  Don't forget Daft Punk created their first album on a home computer.  Just had to throw that in here.  Daft Punk. Daft Punk.♦


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Cliffclof, an independent designer and web developer of many years.  He has worked in all aspects of production.  His experience includes shooting film and video, special camera development, video editing, post production graphics, 3D compositing, DVD authoring/mastering, marketing design, website design, and more.

Website: jtgoodies.com E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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