LunaPic: Why Is This Retro Photo Editor a Thing?
What is LunaPic and what does it do?
The internet has become pretty slick over the last decade or so. And “good taste” in graphic design has never been more accessible.
But not everyone wants everything to look perfect. And not everyone wants to use professional photo editing tools like Adobe Photoshop.
There’s clearly a lot of affection out there for the home-made graphics of the earlier Internet. For cheesy photo effects and silly maximalist compositions.
And after all, sometimes being anachronistic is good. A breath of fresh air. This is why LunaPic exists, seemingly against all odds. And why it’s popular.
LunaPic is an online image editor that screams kitsch. It allows users to upload pictures, edit them, and share them.
Create .GIF animations. Add effects and do image manipulation. Use the text tool to add words.
It’s all about creating free images that are funny, strange, or folksy. Then sharing them on social media, like Facebook and Tumblr.
The app has a cult following. Its audience skews in two very different directions.
On the one hand, towards older people who didn’t grow up with the internet. People who don’t have the same discerning millennial Tumblr tastes. For them it’s just a fun thing to tool around with.
Then there’s the younger crowd. For one, because the platform’s easy to use and has an approachable look. It is, dare I say, “anti-aesthetic.” As a result it’s approachable for kids.
Then there’s the sheer messiness of what you can do. The type of kid who refuses to color inside the lines will have a field day. And it’s excellent training wheels for using a more “grown-up” photo editor later on.
LunaPic Photo Editor
LunaPic’s free online photo editor is simple and straightforward. It’s web-based, so no need to install anything. Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or whatever other browser you use is a-okay.
There’s a big “Upload” button on the home page. Use this to upload your image. A wide range of file types can be uploaded, from .BMP to .AVI.
Then you can get to work.
If you don’t like going to the homepage every time to start editing, there’s also a Google Chrome Extension. It adds “Edit image with LunaPic” to your right-click menu. That way you can automate the process of uploading and skip a step.
You can add text. There’s a ton of fonts. Colors can be changed and text rotated.
Add art effects too. These are all over the place, from pen and sketch filters, to Picasso and watercolor.
Not to mention “Dream.” This filter that mimics how some people may or may not see shapes and colors while unconscious. Wild stuff.
You can turn .AVI files into .GIFs as well. Just be sure to trim and compress the video. LunaPic can’t handle really big video files.
You can do resizing of pictures on command. Then export images as .PNG, .JPG, or .GIF.
Host them on Imgur for free. Save them to your computer. Or post them to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Photos.
Transparent Background Tool
LunaPic lets you change image opacity and transparency.
You just click on the background or color you want to remove. The selected part will be changed into transparency. Then you can replace it with something else.
Once you have a transparent background, you can add something in.
You can add an image to your clipboard. Then use the Paint Bucket tool and set the fill pattern to “your clipboard.”
You can also use the Paint Bucket tool to add in a color or pattern. Or cut out the item and place it on a different background with the Scissors tool.
LunaPic Magic Wand
The Magic Wand tool works just like PhotoShop. It detects shapes based on tone and color. That way you can quickly isolate figures and cut, copy, or otherwise modify them.
There’s a simple crop tool. Just select the area to crop, and then hit “Crop Image.” Four shapes are available: rectangle, square, oval, and circle.
A pixel counter will let you know the width and height of the selected area.
There’s a simple collage maker too. You can select up to 9 photos for your collage. And choose the image resolution.
You can also make collages with image effects. Select from a long, long list including motion blur, thermal, negative image, and cartoon.
Check off the image effects you want in your collage. One frame in the composition will have this effect.
The vendor recommends you keep your settings to 4 effects max per collage. But of course you can go as wild if you like.
Canva is kind of the antithesis of Lunapic. It’s an online SaaS tool for doing clean, contemporary design fast and cheap. It helps you unify your brand aesthetic across channels.
Canva has intuitive features and a vast archive of templates and images. This makes it easy to design websites, logos, calendars, and media kits. Or presentation decks, social media posts, business cards—whatever the occasion calls for, really.
InVision is a digital product design platform. It’s designed to handle the entire product design workflow. It’s also used for prototyping websites through online collaboration.
It also does photo editing, sort of. You need to touch up your images in an external editor.
But once imported into InVision, you can work them into screens, wireframes, mockups, and hotspots. And add effects.
The tool meets the growing demand for simple, easy-to-use design software. Times are forcing companies to modernize the way they work. And to equip their employees with more user-friendly tools.
Pixlr is an online photo editing app, just like LunaPic. They share a similar audience. Indeed, LunaPic got a boost in users when Pixlr discontinued their desktop app in 2017.
Now Pixlr has two apps. One is called Pixlr X and it’s targeted at beginners and casual users (the LunaPic crowd). Pixlr E is intended for intermediate users and “pros.”
The app uses AI and machine learning for figuring out figures and backgrounds. This helps you get cleaner separation between image elements. Remove imperfections and change backgrounds without the need for grunt work.
Pixlr X sticks a foot in the graphic design game as well. It comes with a big library of stickers, overlays, and borders. This helps you knock out multifaceted graphics in no time.
Snapseed is a photo editor app designed by Google. It has a very low learning curve.
Crop, rotate, and retouch photos. Darken, lighten. Add contrast, change saturation. Do all those classic photo editing things.
You can select from 29 filters to add as well.
Unique Control Point technology lets you focus on editing certain areas. Pick up to 8 points on an image, then add enhancements to them one by one. This gives you a lot of minute control over image editing without adding complexity.
Is LunaPic safe?
Maybe you’re wondering if LunaPic has some security issues, because of its out-of-time aesthetic. Like the old house on the end of the street, its shopworn appearance does give rise to some trepidation.
No worries though, you can relax.
LunaPic holds a 4.5 star rating on World of Trust. So yes, the app’s safe. Users have not reported any adware or spyware.
If you use an ad blocker, you’ll also see the app website isn’t full of ad trackers. That’s good news too.
And you don’t have to download any software to use the platform, so there’s none of the risk that comes with porting files to your device. The “LunaPic Right Click Edit” Chrome Extension also has no privacy issues reported.
Graphic design is a booming field. We have so many minimalist design apps and tools. Surrounded by so much quality, it makes sense to want something that looks homemade.
LunaPic is popular because it bucks contemporary trends.
It’s a bit like a modern day Blingee. For those who weren’t in the mix back then, Blingee was a fixture of the MySpace era in the mid-2000s.
Or going even farther back to the 90s, one could compare LunaPic to GIMP.
The bottom line is editing photos is an art. And not everyone wants their art to be high-brow or clean.
Sometimes people want sparkles and sunsets. Giant, diagonally rotated captions in Comic Sans font. Messy image collages with red, green, and blue color blocking.
For those who have graduated from the school of good taste, it’s easy to find all this super funny. And yes, it is. But the human need for kitsch and chaos is pretty deep—it goes well beyond surface irony.
It’s why we send wacky stickers on Facebook Messenger. It’s why memes exist and exert a strong influence on political culture.
Not everything can be super neat. We need a little chaos now and then. We need a little dab... of LunaPic.