10 Ways to Make the Cloud Work for You


Draw Pictures and Edit Photos

Capture that visual in the cloud. iStock/Thinkstock
Capture that visual in the cloud. iStock/Thinkstock

Photos and graphics can enhance just about any form of communication, right? Yet creating really good images is easier said than done. In recent years, cloud-based drawing and painting programs have made this process much less onerous. There are two basic types of services: those that allow you to create line art, such as flowcharts and wireframes, and those that allow you to edit photos from your camera or favorite stock imagery site.

Getting started usually entails a quick registration and perhaps a video tutorial or two. Almost all provide a free service that buys a small amount of storage and a limited number of images and export options. Upgrade to a premium service, and you can get the whole caboodle -- unlimited storage space and images, and more flexible export options, such as the ability to save in PNG, JPEG, SVG or PDF formats.

Most online drawing and painting sites provide the same basic features and tools as more powerful desktop applications. For example, Gliffy, an online diagramming service, echoes the experience of Microsoft Visio. You can draw basic shapes, order and align them, apply colors, add text and experiment with certain special effects. When you're done with a diagram, you can embed and share your work via social media or invite others to view and comment.

Online photo editors like Pixlr behave a lot like Adobe Photoshop. They allow you to crop images, adjust color characteristics and mask out backgrounds or foregrounds. And then they make sharing a snap. With Pixlr, you can save edited images to your desktop, to the company's servers or to Facebook, Flickr and Picasa.