Aviary is both an interactive artists' community and a powerful web-based editing suite for images and sound

aviary.pngAviary boasts a suite of online tools for editing and manipulating images and sound.

Free services include:

  • Phoenix
    • A versatile image editing program with many features familiar to users of Photoshop. It includes the ability to work with layers, cut and paste selections, and import images and palettes from other Aviary applications.
  • Toucan
    • A color picker tool with deep functionality. Toucan includes the typical color wheel swatch picker, but also allows users to set patterns in order to generate pleasing and consistent color palettes. Images can be imported from third party websites, and completed palettes can be exported. Includes a "color deficiency preview" which allows users to see how their work will appear to a viewer with color-impaired vision.

  • Peacock
    • Peacock is an effects editor which Aviary describes as its own "visual laboratory". Users manipulate "hubs" containing small swatches of images or patterns, which can be linked and remixed to create new and highly customizable designs. Peacock can be used to create backgrounds or filters for use alone or in other images.

  • Talon
    • A simple screen capture tool, available as an addon for Firefox.

  • Falcon

    • A screen capture utility which allows for instant markup and commenting on web content. An extension for Firefox enables instant capture and import into Falcon.
  • Roc
    • Allows users to create music using a library of instruments. Clips can be exported for use in larger projects in Myna.

  • Myna
    • A sound editor which allows users to record, import, alter and layer audio clips.

A vector editor called Raven is available as a part of their subscription service.

Web 2.0 Features

Although Aviary provides powerful web-based tools for creating and editing media for free, this alone would not make it a Web 2.0 tool. Aviary also hosts a community of people that comment on the art posted by Aviary's users, and allows users to share their work and make it available for re-mix or mash-up. Creative Commons conventions are built into the operation of the site. Artists can make their works available for use through any of the Creative Commons licenses, and derivative works automatically link to the original artist. Aviary integrates a variety of other Web 2.0 technologies, permitting users to connect directly with their Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Picasa accounts. Aviary also hosts its own blog and forums, and encourages user interaction.

  • Currently Aviary is beta-testing a setting that is for students and educators. Librarians can contact the creators to see if they qualify for an account.
  • Provides many tutorials so students have a chance to teach themselves how to use these tools.
  • Is a great tool for high school age students. Aviary is sufficiently sophisticated to give students a sense of accomplishment when a project is finished, and gives them authentic ownership over their creations.
  • Students have the chance to share their work with a larger community, and receive comments on their work.
  • Images can be imported from and shared in other social media applications such as Flickr and Facebook.
  • Aviary allows its users to copyright their creations, and also has settings for Creative Commons. This acts as an opportunity for librarians and teachers to review intellectual property and copyright.

  • Creators can set very specific privacy settings to allow only certain people to access or edit their work.
  • With the variety of what Aviary covers it's a great tool to integrate curricula. For example, using Aviary, students could create a visual project for their history class while learning topics covered in both art and computer science courses.

  • Aviary has quite a learning curve. Even when compared to the similar Photoshop it has differences that make it unintuitive.
  • Some features might be used and taught in a single class session, but to effectively use it as a whole would require a significant amount of time to train students and staff in its use.
  • While images and sounds can be shared and remixed, Aviary does not always act like a wiki and allow for simultaneous collaborative edits.
  • Its complexity makes it inappropriate for elementary school classrooms.
  • At least at first glance, the focus of Aviary is on the creation of art, rather than community. It may take a while for someone to establish themselves within the Aviary community.

Comparison to similar Web 2.0 tools

  • Pixlr
    • Like Aviary, Pixlr provides a web based image editing program, but without the community. There is no forum for users to share or receive comments on their creations, let alone re-mix them. While there are a couple tutorials, someone would probably already need to be proficient at photo editing before using this service.

  • Picnik

    • Picnik like Pixlr and Aviary provide a web based image editing program. However, Picnik is much more basic than Pixlr or Aviary and is more suited for the amateur. Users cannot create as sophisticated effects as they can with Pixlr or Aviary but it is much less difficult to use. Forums are available where users can get help from each other or ask questions. Picnik might be appropriate for elementary schools or for classes that want less complicated image editing. Picnik in the Classroom

  • Photoshop Online Editor
    • Photoshop's online tools provide a means for artists to share their photographs, and some simple utilities for improving the quality of shots. Users can alter color and lighting, apply filters, reduce red-eye and add text. Edits are limited to enhancements of the original photo; advanced cutting and pasting such as users of Photoshop are accustomed to are unsupported. The online editor's greatest strength is in its ease of use for artists seeking to perfect, organize and share their images.

  • SUMO Paint
    • SUMO Paint is similar to Aviary's Phoenix Image Editor. Like Aviary there are a community of users that can comment on and critique each others work. However, unlike Aviary there is no way for educators to set up a school account at this time. Additionally, although users can remix each others' art there is no way to set up a Creative Commons license and all derivative art is owned by the original creator.

  • SplashUp
    • SplashUp looks and operates similarly to Photoshop. It supports advanced features such as simultaneous editing of multiple images, layers and filters. For users familiar with Photoshop, there is almost no learning curve, and requires no download or login - users can import images from a number of social networking and photo storage sites and be involved in editing within seconds. Although SplashUp permits sharing to Web 2.0 sites, it lacks in-site sharing and commenting features.

  • Soundcloud
    • While Roc and Myna provide tools for creating, mixing and sharing sounds, Soundcloud focuses on the sharing aspect. Users must upload preexisting audio or record with a microphone to get started. Once a clip is uploaded, users can associate it with an image, tag it, set Creative Commons licenses and forward it to friends. Soundcloud's most interesting feature is its users' ability to attach comments to particular moments of a clip which pop up as the clip is played. While Myna allows comments, Soundcloud would be far more useful for students or musicians seeking specific feedback on their work, and may be an excellent place to post works created in Aviary.

Learning Connections

Click on this document to learn more about creating a lesson for elementary school students writing art criticism in Aviary.

Click on this document to learn more about using Aviary in a high school social studies lesson.


Click here to see Aviary in action!

References, Articles, etc.

Aviary Educator
The link to use for those educators considering using Aviary. This will allow you to set up a private account to use with your students.

Tutorial on Aviary Education
This is a video tutorial for Aviary Education, a useful introduction for reluctant teachers and administrators.

Aviary for Education Gives Students a Safer Way to Get Creative
Kincaid, J. (2010, June 25). Aviary for education gives students a safer way to get creative. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/25/aviary-education/.
- This article gives a basic overview of the features of Aviary for education, and what basic features are available with the account.

Blog Post on Using Aviary for Podcasting
Conklin J. (2010, February 8). Podcasting Daily Lessons - Web 2.0. Retrieved from http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topics/podcasting-daily-lessons?commentId=649749%3AComment%3A434248
- This is a brief account of how one educator uses Aviary's Myrna sound editing feature for podcasting in the classroom.

Aviary for Education Launches in Beta
Byrne, R. (2010, June 26). Aviary for education launches in beta. Free Technology for Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2010/06/aviary-for-education-launches-in-beta.html
- While not particularly detailed this blog post mentions some specific ways that Aviary has been used in the classroom. It also has a useful slideshow on using Aviary's Roc feature.

2 Free Online Image Editors that Will Make you Toss Photoshop
Edudemic. (2010, November 24). 2 Free online image editors that will make you toss photoshop. Edudemic. Retrieved from http://edudemic.com/2010/11/2-free-online-image-editors-that-will-make-you-toss-photoshop/
- Detailed summary on what Aviary is good for. As a bonus there is another free image editor that educators may also be interested in.

Making Videos on the Web
- While not exclusively about Aviary. This very interesting "web book" may be useful to teacher looking to make videos using Web 2.0 tools. It includes a lot of information about Aviary's Myrna sound editor.

Aviary Encroaches On Adobe Illustrator
Hendrickson, H. (2009, February 9). Aviary encroaches on adobe illustrator with raven, The first vector graphics editors for the web. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2009/02/06/aviary-encroaches-on-adobe-illustrator-with-raven-the-first-vector-graphics-editor-for-the-web/.
- This article, although slightly outdated, can give educators (especially those in the arts) and idea if they would like to use Aviary instead of Adobe Illustrator. This may be especially appealing because Aviary is web based and entirely free.