The workspace of Photopea is very similar to other image editors. It consists of the Toolbar on the left, the Sidebar on the right, the Working area in the middle and the Top menu at the top.
The toolbar contains all available tools. You can switch tools by clicking on their icons in the toolbar. Only one tool can be active at a time. Icons with a little arrow in the corner (e.g. Lasso tool) contain the whole group of related tools. Click on them to see the menu, then choose a specific tool from that menu.
Hold your mouse over the tool icon for a moment to see the name of that tool. Some tools have capital letters attached to them (e.g. B for Brush tool). You can also switch tools by pressing corresponding keys on your keyboard.
There is the foreground and the background color at the bottom of the toolbar. It is a simple palette of two colors, which are used by some tools. You can swap them with the X button, or reset to default values (black and white) with a D button.
The sidebar consists of two vertical columns. Each column can be folded and unfolded by clicking the thick line at the top of the column.
These columns contain panels (Layers, History, Paragraph …), that you may need during your work. When the column is unfolded, you can see multiple panels, that are inside. When the column is folded, you can show and hide a specific panel by clicking the corresponding button in the column.
If you don’t know where a specific panel is located, press Window – name of that panel.
Photopea allows you to open multiple documents (e.g. JPG images) at the same time. The list of opened documents is shown in the bar at the top of the main area.
Here you can switch between documents and choose the one that you want to work with. You can also close documents by pressing the cross next to the document name. Below that bar, in the middle of the workspace, is the actual content of your document. It is the active area, whree you can draw, move objects etc.
The top menu consists of two parts the first part (File, Edit, Image …) is the main menu of Photopea. It is always the same.
The second part (below the main menu) contains parameters of the current tool. It has a different content for each tool. For example, for the Brush tool, it contains the opacity of the brush, while for the Type tool, it contains the size of characters.
Opening and Saving files
Digital graphics is stored as a raster image, or a vector image. There are many formats for saving and distributing various types of graphics. Let’s mention PNG and JPG, which contain a single-layer rectangular raster image (a grid of pixels).
Image editors use their own file formats, that contain raster and vector graphics, and additional information, which can be useful for changing the image in the future. For example, when we add a text into an image and save it as a PNG, letters would become pixels and such text would be hard to change (we would have to guess the font name, character size, the original image behind the letters would be lost).
Photopea uses the PSD format as the main format for storing image documents with an additional information. It was designed for the use in Adobe Photoshop and became very popular since then. All files, that you open in Photopea (such as PNG, JPG, Sketch) are converted to PSD (when they are not PSDs already). When you finish editing, the result can be saved from the PSD to other formats.
Photopea also supports many kinds of resources, that can be used for editing the image. You can load your own brushes, gradients, fonts and more, the same way you open images.
There are several ways of opening files. The standard way is through the Open dialog (File – Open). You can also paste images (from the system clipboard) simply by pressing Ctrl + V. Another way is to open files by dragging them from your local system and dropping them into the Photopea environment inside a web browser.
When you have no documents opened, dropped files will be opened in a regular way. When some documents are already open in Photopea, you can drop new document into the main area of the current document. The new file will be inserted into the current document as a new layer (a Smart Object layer).
When some documents are opened, you can drop new files into the top bar of the main area (which contains the list of opened documents). Then, new files will be opened separately.
There is an experimental feature, which allows you take pictures using the camera of your device right inside Photopea. Press File – Take a picture to take a picture.
You can save your work as a PSD file (to preserve the whole structure of the document) using File – Save as PSD. You can also save your file for the distribution on the web (through JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF and other formats) using File – Export As – PNG, JPG etc.
The Save for Web window lets you choose the output format. You can also enter the resolution of the output image. Now, you can already use Photopea to resize images (File – Open, File – Export As – JPG, enter the new size and Save).
When a document was opened from your device, the File – Save option will not work (Photopea is just a website, and it can not rewrite files in your device). You have to use File – Save as PSD instead. But if you opened your file from Google Drive, or as a Smart Object, or from a server (using the API), File – Save will save your file to a correct destination.
We already know, how to open and save files in Photopea. The next step is viewing the image and its parts comfortably and moving between different areas of the image.
The Zoom tool allows you to zoom in and zoom out at different places of the image. Just select the tool (in the toolbar on the left) and click on the image. You can switch between zooming in and zooming out in the top panel, or by pressing the Alt key on the keyboard. You can also click and drag to the right to zoom in, or drag to the left to zoom out.
There is a quick mode for the Zoom tool. By pressing Ctrl + Spacebar, you will switch to the Zoom tool, which you can use in a regular way. E.g. you can add or release Alt to switch between zooming in and zooming out. After releasing the keyboard keys, you will return back to the previous tool. It is one of the fastest ways to zoom.
The Hand tool allows you to move the view to different parts of the image. Choose the Hand tool in the toolbar, then click and drag on the image to navigate to other places.
There is a quick mode for the Hand tool. Press the Spacebar to switch temporarily to the Hand tool. Then release the Spacebar to go back to the previous tool.
Rotate View tool
This tool allows you to rotate the view of a document. You can find it right under the Hand tool. Click and drag the document to rotate it around the center of the screen. Click Reset at the top to go back to 0°.
Zooming and scrolling is also possible with a mouse wheel. Turn the mouse wheel to scroll vertically, or add Ctrl to scroll horizontally. Hold the Alt key to zoom with the mouse wheel instead of scrolling.
You can enable Rulers in Photopea (View – Rulers, or Ctrl + R), which will help you navigate inside the document and to estimate the size of objects.
History of actions
Your work in Photopea is represented as a sequence of actions, that are applied to a document. Each action performs some change to the document, and creates a new state of the document. This list of actions is shown in the History panel. New actions will appear at the bottom of the list.
Photopea allows you to withdraw your editing and return to previous states. Clicking the name of an action in the History panel will get you back to the previous state. Also, you can move forward in the history by clicking last actions (at the bottom of the list).
Another way to return to previous or future states is by choosing Edit – Step Forward (Shift + Ctrl + Z) or Edit – Step Backward (Alt + Ctrl + Z). You can also use Edit – Undo / Redo (Ctrl + Z) to switch between last two states (it does not allow you to go “deeper” in the history).