February 6, 2009

Aviary – Image Manipulation on the Fly


What exactly does Aviary offer that other design programs like PhotoShop & Illustrator do not? While it’s true that Aviary’s main competition is with current mainstream design programs already on the market, the application is web-based so it offers some features that cannot be found on traditional desktop software. The best of these is the ability to use Aviary’s design tools anywhere and via virtually any computer, but the community on the Aviary site adds even more power. Aviary is not only a design program site, but a community and marketplace for all types of designers.

Aviary consists of several very powerful design tools, such as the image editor, called Phoenix, the Peacock pattern generator, which allows you to create sophisticated backgrounds, and Hummingbird, a 3D generator, which is surprisingly powerful. Additionally, users can scroll through past Aviary projects and offer comments and feedback just like any traditional social network.

Aviary has the ability to inspire creativity because you have an instant audience for design work, much like Flickr provides an audience for amateur photographers. The more time you put in the more you’ll be able to spread the word about your own work.

Practical Uses:

  • Obtain candid feedback about your design work from industry peers
  • Save several hundred dollars by eliminating the purchase of expensive design software
  • Access your designs and create new work while traveling
  • Learn advanced image design techniques by dissecting other artists’ work

Insider Tips:

  • To get a feel for the applications, create derivatives of other people’s work – just by opening their file, you can make changes to it. This is a great way to learn from experienced creators
  • Go to the “Hall of Fame” and comment on the most popular work – this can get people to check out your Aviary profile
  • Add contacts, join groups, and add favorites to get engaged within the community

What we liked:

  • Basic site usage is free
  • Intuitive tools and user-friendly site
  • The community is vibrant with a lot of participation
  • It’s good for an amateur – Photoshop has a steep learning curve, but Aviary is easier to learn while still having adequate tools for pro designers
  • The ability to make derivatives of another person’s work is a great feature for learning design and being a part of the community

What we didn’t like:

  • No chat or phone-based support
  • Audio editing tools are mentioned but are not yet available
  • Requires a high speed connection – and even with this the application can be slow at times


Company Info:

  • Launched: March 2007
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Founded by: Avi Muchnick
  • Web site:


  • Free for basic usage
  • Pro plans are currently priced at $10/month (normally $15/month)


  1. Thanks for the awesome post! I just wanted to correct a couple of items:

    There is Chat-based support. It’s available in the forums drop down for logged in users.

    * Audio editing tools are mentioned but are not yet available

    They are available to subscribers (as they get early access to alpha releases).


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