If you frequently use images on your WordPress website, you’ve likely realized one thing: editing images in WordPress sucks. Sure, there are a few basic tools like cropping and rotating. For anything beyond that, you need a more robust image editor.
The first solution that springs to mind for most people is Photoshop. While Photoshop is an excellent tool for the job, it has a steep learning curve and can be cost-prohibitive for some. Free tools like GIMP work just as well, but they also take a lot of time to learn. And with any standalone image editor, you’ll need to re-upload an image every time you make edits. It can be an organizational hassle.
The great news is that you don’t need to use an app outside of WordPress to manipulate images. There are plugins that allow you to make complex edits without leaving your WordPress admin. These plugins expand on the core editing tools, allowing you to add overlays, text, and shapes, adjust the gamma, and much more.
In this article, I’ll compare two leading image editing plugins and show you which I think is the best WordPress image editor.
Let’s get started!
The first image editor I tested was an HTML5-based image editing plugin called WP Paint.
Developed by the folks at ZetaMatic, WP Paint expands on the core WordPress image editor, offering you more editing features like:
- Image Effects
- Gradient Tool
- Tools Panel
- Clone Tool
- Color Corrections
- Lossless Photo Manipulation
You can also add shapes and text on top of images.
Using WP Paint
After installing and activating WP Paint, you navigate to your media library and click on an image. This opens the usual image window. In addition to the standard WordPress Edit Image button, you’ll notice a new button next to it: Edit Image using WP Paint. This will open the image in an editing window.
Similarly to an image editor such as Photoshop, you’ll see a tools panel on the left, plus a preview window and layers panel on the right. The first thing I tested was adding some text over my image. Using the eyedropper tool, I picked up a color from my image for the type. I then wrote some text using the text tool and styled it in the pop-up window.
The interface is relatively intuitive, and being familiar with most image editors, I didn’t have any trouble recognizing the various tool icons. One slight annoyance I noticed is that the pop-up windows partially hide the image, and there’s no way to move them.
The layers are movable, so you can easily place objects in front or behind one another.
After saving an image I had edited, I was relieved to learn that I could restore it to the original — even after exiting the editor. One thing that would be helpful is a “Save as” feature to allow for multiple versions of an image in the media library.
WP Paint Pricing
The WP Paint plugin is free to install and use. Some of the features listed above are only available in the Pro version, which you can purchase for a single site at $39.99/year. It’s also available for 2-5 sites for $99.99/year or unlimited sites for $399.99/year. They also provide a lifetime license for $699.99.
Photinia comes with a rich set of editing features, such as:
- Crop, Flip, and rotate
- Color adjustment
- Fine-tune brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure, gamma, and more
- Annotate using shapes and text
Photinia also allows you to edit multiple image sizes simultaneously, so you don’t have to repeat your work. The interface works as well on mobile as it does on desktop. Currently, Photinia supports editing .jpeg and .png image files.
You’ll need to purchase Photinia from their website, as it’s not currently available in the WordPress plugin repo. They also offer a free demo on their site if you want to try it out before purchasing.
Once you install and activate the plugin, you should head to Settings>Photinia. You can choose whether you prefer a dark or light theme and if you want to hide the default WordPress image editor button.
Additionally, you can select options for various image sizes you want to make available for editing. There’s another setting to Remove image versions. When activated, it will overwrite your image files each time you make an edit. You will deselect the checkbox if you prefer to save edits in separate files.
Photinia works the same way as WP Paint: you’ll head to the Media Library to edit images. After choosing an image, click the Edit Image button on the far left rather than the WordPress Edit Image button on the right. If you decide to make multiple sizes available, you’ll also see a carrot dropdown next to the button.
Once inside the editor, you’ll notice a clean, spare user interface where the focus is on the image itself. The tool selection menu is to the left, and the settings for each tool appear underneath the image when editing. The sliders for the Finetune tools are very smooth and easy to adjust.
The tools are super intuitive, and I had no trouble cropping, then adding text and a rectangle to make a header image in just a minute or two. Each object window has tools to edit, trash, or adjust the order of visibility.
For example, to add text to an image, click Annotate in the left side menu. Then, on the far right underneath the image, click the Text tool. You can adjust the font, color, sizing, and position.
There are undo and redo buttons at the top, and I noticed that the keyboard shortcut
Ctrl+z also worked. Users will want to be careful not to accidentally click the Revert button in the top left, as it will erase all edits you’ve made. However, this is a handy feature — just as in WP Paint, you can revert to the original image whenever you change your mind.
Click Done when you’re finished, and you’ll see your image update in the Media Library. If you edit one or more specific image sizes, you’ll see them appear alongside the original.
As I mentioned previously, Photinia is available for purchase from their website.
There are two pricing tiers, Pro ($149/One time) and Single ($49/One Time). The difference between the two is that with Single, you can use the plugin on one site, and with Pro, you get unlimited sites.
They have a no-questions-asked 14-day refund policy, so there’s no risk in purchasing and installing it on your site.
The Best WordPress Image Editor is Photinia
WP Paint is a solid plugin and has some nice editing features. However, my experience using Photinia was really fun. The UI is modern and distraction-free — it almost feels like I’m working in a high-end standalone image editor. While editing images, I felt at home right away.
Even though I use Photoshop for other design tasks, I can skip it and start editing my images without leaving WordPress — a huge boon to my productivity and, overall, a more enjoyable experience.