Creative Kit (Previously Picnik) a Free Online Photo Editing Tool on Google+

Adobe photoshop (commercial) and GIMP (free and open source) are a couple of powerful and popular desktop photo editing applications besides many other photo tools available in the market.

But not everyone is tech savvy and using these tools may require learning and special training. Most of the users look for a simple editing tool to make adjustments to a photo so that it looks better with minimal effort (may be just sharpen or light up the picture).

This is where many flash and web based editing tools started to appear and immediately gained popularity among casual users. These tools offered most commonly used photo editing functions and didn’t require much to learn and most of the time were self explanatory.

Picnik aka picnic was one such popular web based tool that offered a wide variety of tools and was quite popular. They offered free as well as premium (paid) with extra features.

What is creative kit?

Creative kit is a free online web based photo editing tool (personalize photo, apply composition, improve lighting, sharpen the picture, etc.,) that is built in into google+ photos. In 2010 Google bought picnik and announced that the service will be closed on April 19th 2012. This raised many eye brows and even angered many.

But Google had other plans for it and no one knew Google+ was coming. Later when Google+ was launched with photos feature they also introduced a stripped down version of picnik alternative called as creative kit.

Although this doesn’t have all the features that were originally present in picnik, we are pretty sure that they are working on bringing all the awesomeness of picnik in the future (atleast hope so).

How to launch creative kit?

Lightbox photo view to edit photos

Lighbox view and edit photo to launch creative kit

  • Goto photos by clicking on the photos icon on the left within Google+
  • Double click on any of your photos and launch photo in lightbox view (larger picture)
  • Look for Edit photo button on the top left
  • Click on it to launch
  • Creative kit tool dialog will be launched
  • That’s it, you’re inside the photo editing tool. (Please read below to learn more about each feature)

Basic Edits

Crop, Autofix

Basic Edits (crop, autofix,etc)

Auto Fix

The tool figures out fixes a photo requires and applies it automatically (for e.g lighting or sharpening a picture).


Improve your composition or make it fit a given space by cutting the edges off. Click and drag on the image to select the portion you would like to keep. You can also constrain the crop area to a specific shape or ratio by using the dropdown menu, or enter in an Actual size. Scale Photo will force your photo to be scaled to the dimensions shown in Actual size. For instance, if you type in 100×80, and then check Scale Photo, your final image will be squeezed or stretched to fit exactly 100×80, regardless of the size of your crop rectangle.


Crooked or sideways? Rotate your photo 90º left or right, or flip it horizontally or vertically. You can also Straighten a crooked photo by using the slider or drawing a line with your mouse along an edge or horizon that should be straight.


Too dark? Totally blown out? Let Picnik auto-fix your photo with Auto-Exposure, or manually adjust it yourself with our simple sliders. For a photo that’s too dark, increase the Exposure and Highlights, and decrease the Contrast to even things out. For a photo that’s too bright, decrease the Exposure, increase the Shadows, and raise the Contrast if you still need more definition to your photo.


Click Auto-Colors to let Picnik identify and remove an unwanted color cast from your photo. To add a color cast, use the Tint tool in the Effects section, where you’ll find a whole bunch of other color effects as well. For more precise results, click the Neutral Picker and select what in your photo should be white or grey, and the rest will adjust itself accordingly. Make those blue skies bluer or put some rose in your cheeks by further fine-tuning your photo’s white balance and overall look with Saturation and Temperature.


Feeling fuzzy? Sharpen it up with the Sharpness and Clarity sliders to apply added sharpness to your picture. Advanced: Click the Unsharp Mask button for finer control over your sharpening. To find definition within a set of pixels, use Radius to determine how wide you want the area affected, and Strength to control how much contrast you want within that space.


Bigger, smaller, fatter, taller – Make that photo fit by entering a new width and height for your image. Select Use Percentages if you want to make it, for instance, 150% bigger or 75% smaller. Select Keep Proportions to keep the height and width proportionally the same.


Google+ exclusives

Special effects tools


Mimicking the photographic process first developed in the 1840s, Daguerreotype gives you that old-timey feel without having to lug around any fragile silver-coated copper plates, or making your subject sit still for ten minutes at a time. Increase Fade to bring some newfangled color back into your photo.

Reala 400

Give your photo the look of this exceptional brand of film with better colors, better contrast, and a smoother film grain (if a digital photo had film grain, with Reala it would be smooth). Just adjust Fade to decrease the intensity of the Effect.

Green fade or Magenta fade

Being green is easier than you think. Just adjust Fade to bring your original colors through, or keep it low for the full effect.

Polaroid plus

Add instant cool to your photo, and save yourself the shaking. Polaroid Plus gives your photo the warm, muted colors of instant film, which you can then Fade to let your photo’s original colors through. Additionally, drop your new photo into a Polaroid Frame for an instant classic.

Sun aged

Just like that photo hanging on the wall all during your childhood, this effect gives your photo that Sun Aged look. Adjust Fade to bring the newness back, or keep it low for maximum aging.


Black and White

Use Black and White to convert your photo to black, white, and gray. Apply a color filter to emphasize a color in the original photo. Choose a bright red color to make reds a lighter gray. Choose blue to make blues lighter. A stronger color corresponds to a stronger filter.

Focal B&W

Click and drag on your photo to move the focal circle. Increase or decrease its size via the Focal Size slider and adjust the blurriness of the circle’s edges with Edge Hardness to control how smoothly it blends in with the rest of the image. Check Reverse effect to make the contents of the focal circle black and white and the rest of your image color.


Use Boost to bring out colors and increase contrast. Adjust Strength to adjust the amount of boosting applied.


Soften makes your photos soft and glowy. Adjust Softness to change the amount of glow. Adjust Fade to change the amount of detail retained. Tip: Use this with portraits (photo of faces) for added glamour. Combine with a Black and White effect with a red Color Filter for a more artistic look.



Lomo-ish imitates the look of the popular Lomo toy camera. Increase the Blur Edges slider for more dramatic vignetting, decrease it for less. Use Fade to bring the original picture through from behind. Tip: For best results, use Auto-Fix before applying this effect.


Plastic cam quality without the plastic cam! Holga-ish mimics the wondrous Holga camera when using the sublime combination of black and white film and a red filter. Tip: For an authentic Holga look, make sure to Crop your photo square before applying.


Adjust the Radius slider to change the halo size. Adjust the Strength slider to change the impact. Tip: Try this with shots of city lights or landscapes with clouds.

Cinema scope

Apply the CinemaScope effect to your picture to lend it a little classic movie magic. An extra-widescreen format used in the 50’s and 60’s using an anamorphic lens, CinemaScope pictures are known for being bright, slightly grainy, and having extended musical numbers in them.


Use our Orton-ish effect to mimic the usually-way-more-complicated effect named for Michael Orton. Unlike his method, though, this one requires no in-focus over-exposed-by-two-stops overlayed with an out-of-focus-over-exposed-by-one-stop technical mumbo-jumbo. Just a pretty, nicely saturated glowy look to your pictures. Use Bloom to control how glowy you want it, and Brightness to control how saturated you want it. Then use Fade to blend it into your original picture.


The Space Race, the Johnson administration, and your parents’ old photo album: an entire decade can be yours too, with just a single click. Rounded corners and a warm, aged glow, with Fade to control what quality color print paper you used, all those years ago. Go for a low number for low color stability, a high one for nearly archival-quality 60s film. Tip: Use in combination with Cross-Process for an extra-neato effect like the film makers use!



Use Tint to set a mood, convey a feeling, or show how incredibly hot it was on your trip to the Grand Canyon. First, choose a Tint Color (light colors decrease the tint strength), then use the Fade slider to regain some of your photo’s original color. To experiment further with the full range of color possibilities, click on the Advanced Modes drop-down menu.


Vibrance or smarter Saturation, use Vibrance for perfect skin tone, mid tones, and shadows. Vibrance affects skin differently than its surroundings, going just a bit flushed. Brightly colored clothing and backgrounds are the most affected, but the shadows and black areas of your photograph aren’t changed to keep the photo looking natural. So you look perfectly vibrant, without looking like a lobster. Tip: To paint Vibrance into only part of your photo, click the paint brush button.


To use Duo-Tone, choose two colors and Picnik will map them to your photo, from dark to light. Adjust Brightness and Contrast to get the proper mix of light and dark. Tip: Increase the contrast to 100% to use only the colors you selected and no values in between.

Heat map 2.0

Connect with your inner Hish-qu-Ten, put on a fishnet jumpsuit, and get ready to stalk Ahnuld through the jungle. Use Satellite for cable news view of your landscape, Combustion for a firefighter’s view. Go with Autotrophic for a single-celled organism look and Thermal or Infrared for more traditional heat mapping. Tip: Heat Map 2.0 works best on photos with a wide range of tones. Using Auto-Fix before applying will often net better results.

Cross Process

This effect mimics cross-processing, the technique wherein you would intentionally use incorrect chemicals to process film, for more interesting colors and contrast. Tip: Works great on naturally lit portraits with a wide range of lights and darks.

Touch Up

Blemish Fix

Click on your photo to remove an unsightly mark. For best results, select a brush size that surrounds the spot’s size. Adolescence begone! Tip: Works great on other, non-hormone-caused marks as well, like dust and hot pixels.


Forget your compact at home? Did those paparazzi flashes make you look not so much fresh as a daisy but like an anthurium on a hot day? Click on the shiny parts of your photo to return your complexion to an even tone. Adjust the Brush Size for larger or smaller areas.


Skip the greasy moisturizers and complexion-killing foundations with Airbrush! Select a Brush Size suitable for the size of the area you want to smooth and click and drag to paint in the instant flawless look. Increase Fade to bring more of the original photo through or decrease it for a more opaque look. Tip: Go for the 40s Screen Siren look by selecting Strong and be ready for your closeup!

Sunless Tan

Achieve that perfect sunny look without the sun damage or turning the palms of your hands orange with Sunless Tan! This UV-Free alternative adds a healthy touch of color without the risk of burning. Choose one of the preset colors, adjust to an appropriate Brush Size, then click and drag over skin to paint in that healthy glow. Before hitting Apply, try the other colors to compare looks, no embarrassing week-long wait or painful frantic exfoliation.


Photo decoration tools


Try different brush colors and sizes and use Hardness to soften the edges of your doodles and Strength to let the photo show. Select one of the Advanced Modes for neat doodled effects! Made a mistake? Use the Eraser to clean up stray doodles and hit Apply when you’re done, but note: Undo works one brush stroke at a time until you hit Apply, after which it undoes the whole doodle. Tip: Looking for Fade? Doodle is all new and more powerful and Fade has been replaced with Strength.

Face paint

Clowns, witches, geishas, mimes, marionettes, ballerinas, they all need a little Face Paint to perfect the costume! Choose a Color, adjust your Brush Size and click and drag to paint it on! Fade for a more natural look, and remember to hit Apply before switching colors. Made a mistake? Use the Eraser to clean up any stray marks!

Speech bubbles

Large collection of speech bubbles in various shapes, just drag and fill in your message

Focal pixelate

To emphasize a point inside your picture, or even just discretely de-emphasize everything else, use Focal Pixelate, and click and drag inside your photo to move the focal circle around. Use the Pixel Size slider to make the pixels little and detailed or big and block like. To control the size and and blending of the focal circle, use the Focal Size and Edge Hardness sliders. For that censored cop show look, check the Reverse effect box.

Fake beard

Select a color first and adjust Dapperness up for a neater appearance. Select a Brush Size depending on the length of the stubble and size of the area of the face: larger for beards and chins, shorter for mustaches and the upper lip, shortest for a little soul patch. Werewolves: Remember beards are often lighter than mustaches but cheekbones and temples are lightest of all.


Collection of beards in various shapes and size. Just drag and apply to your face photo.

Crowns & tiaras

King, Queen or other related crown. Ideal for decoration and to give that royal look.


Various masks in different colors.

Christmas hats

Other decorate features you’ll find are Pink birthday, Blue birthday, sports, etc.,

Heart’s desire

Show everyone how you really see your Valentine with this romantic effect. Click and drag to select a focal point and watch the air turn misty pink and fuzzy with the eye led irresistibly to your sweetheart’s face. Adjust the Focal Size depending on the size of your subject and Fade for a more subtle – or subliminal! – look.


Set your sights on your Valentine with these high-powered Heartnoculars. Adjust the Size to fit your target, and the Rotation and Separation to focus on your love.


Click and drag in your photo to Gooify with it. Push and pull areas around like Silly Putty. Increase or decrease the effect by adjusting Strength. Eyes, mouths and ears are great places to start gooifying.

Vampire eyes

Let your eyes reflect your thirst with Vampire Eyes! Choose your color and click and drag over eyes to change their color, and adjust the Brush Size depending on how large or small the eyes are. Before hitting apply, select other colors to try for the most penetrating, terrifying, heart-stopping gaze. Use Fade for a natural or supernatural look, and Contrast to control how strongly you pierce the soul. Made a mistake? Use the Eraser to clean up your paint job.

Other tools you’ll find are Hand drawn hearts, fangs, wounds, eye balls, etc.,

Text / Fonts / Meme’s

Text or font tools

Basic Fonts

Global, Arial, Courier New, Times new roman, impact, daniel, Sue Ellen Francis

Holiday Fonts

Henry morgan hand, Jandles, Jules-te-reo, Wenceslas, budmoji, budmojig, home, geosanslight, pupcat

Kimberly Geswein

Burst my bubble, Joyful Juliana, Just Me again Down here, King Cool kc, love ya like a, Tuna and Hot dogs, You are loved

Douglas Vitkauskas

Animal, Bandana, Dear Love, Focus, Rascunho Errado, Relaxing blaze, Revolt, Rock garage band, Sabonete, Vtks Sonho

Billy Argel

Gas mask, Ginga, Green piloww, Monbijoux, Olho De boi, PanHead, Santo Dumont

System Fonts

Fonts loaded from you computer

Disclosure: Features and some of the descriptions were retrieved from the tool itself.

Although creative kit doesn’t have all the features that were originally in picnik, still it has a pretty good collection of editing tools that would help your day to day editing needs.

Mix all your photos and create a collage album was one of the widely used and most sought after feature in picnik. Unfortunately creative kit is missing that important feature and users are looking forward for it.

Missing features

  • Create a collage album
  • Launch creative kit at the album level so that a user could edit multiple photos at the same time (right now requires to view each photo in lightbox view to launch the tool)

Hope Google+ team adds that important collage feature which would make picnik users feel at home.

We’ve identified few missing features and added to the list above. Please let us know through comments if we have missed any other key features so that we could add to the above list. And as always please share your thoughts through comments below.

1 comment

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  1. linda chai

    I am losing my mind trying to find a website or tool that I can use to easily make simple 2 or 3 photo collages. Picnik’s collage tools were perfect, please please integrate them into Google+
    Thank you,
    Linda Chai

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