FotoFlexer Raises The Bar On Online Photo Editing

Online photo editors keep getting better and better. For hardcore image manipulation, desktop software like Photoshop or Gimp will always have its place, but online editors are free, easy to use and a lot of fun. We covered most of the online editors back in February (Fauxto, Picnik, Picture2Life, Preloadr, PXN8 and Snipshot). But a relative newcomer on the scene, Berkeley-based FotoFlexer, is worth a look.

The site first launched in July with basic functionality and integration with Facebook. This last week they relaunched a new site with more tools, direct access to your desktop/laptop webcam, and they also now integrate with Flickr, Picasa and MySpace.

Upload a photo, or grab one from a supported service, and edit it by changing colors, adding effects, bulging or pinching areas (to make body parts look larger or smaller), etc. You can also turn any image into a sketch or cartoon. I spent about 10 minutes creating the different versions of the picture to the right (original is top left). The most fun is changing hair color, although the image third down on the left is my personal favorite.

Fotoflexer says they incorporate their own artificial intelligence algorithm to figure out the right way to alter images. And whatever it is they’re doing, it works. You simply point out a few areas of the site you want to remove or alter and it figures out the rest of the pixels pretty quickly. You can do all of this in Photoshop, but it takes a lot longer. And unlike most (but not all) of the online photo editing tools we’ve previously covered, FotoFlexer also supports layering for more complicated image editing.

FotoFlexer also now integrates directly to your webcam and to take a quick snapshot and edit it. Many of the effects are similar to the Photo Booth application that comes installed on all Macs.

The integration with third party services is a great feature as well. Pull down photos from Facebook or another service, alter them and re-upload in a few minutes.

The service runs in Flash and was built on the Flex platform with mostly custom tools. The company has not raised any capital and has 15 employees, all in the Silicon Valley/Bay area. About 50,000 people use their Facebook application and/or the website directly. I expect that number to grow as social networkers discover the joy of turning their pictures into cartoons, or turning their hair color to Fuchsia.