Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard, tried and true image manipulation and photo editing application. But the powerhouse comes at a hefty price -- one that many people are unable to afford. Thankfully, many free alternatives can get the job done.
This article takes a look at the best free Photoshop alternatives.
Easily the most well known alternative on the list, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is probably the most powerful as well. The program matches Photoshop’s level of sophistication, and is a completely capable image manipulation program in its own right. GIMP is the go-to Photoshop alternative.
Photoshop meets browser based editing on Pixlr. The online image editor’s interface is similar to that of Photoshop, making transitions easier between the two. Advanced users are able to fine tune its tools, and because it’s a web based application, it can be accessed from any computer. Pixlr is hands down the best web based image editor.
PicMonkey is a powerful graphics editor that features an array of tools that are tailored to the specific needs of the user. It has separate functions for photo editing, photo retouching, collages, and graphic design.
Canva is a browser based Photoshop alternative that boasts powerful graphic design capabilities. While it is geared towards graphic design, it has adequate photo editing features as well. The application’s drag and drop, point and click interface makes it very user friendly. Beginning designers may find Canva to be a good starting place.
Originally created as an improved version of Microsoft Paint, Paint.NET is now a powerful image editor. Various plugins for the application made by its user community can be installed to extend its functionality.
Currently in beta and available for a free trial, Affinity Photo is not another less powerful Photoshop alternative. It rivals Photoshop with its high level of performance and clean interface. It won’t be in beta forever, so enjoy the free trial while you can.
CinePaint allows users to edit videos in addition to images. The program is a powerful image retouching tool that has even been used in Hollywood to produce animated films. Its only disadvantage is that CinePaint is not available on Windows.
Free and open-source, Pinta is a versatile image manipulation program. It has basic paint tools and advanced features such as full work history and multiple layers.
Krita is a trusted alternative to Photoshop’s illustration features. It is an open source sketching and painting program that rivals commercial illustration applications, with brush stabilizers, brush engines, and layer management tools.
Pixelmator is a commercial product that has a 30 day free trial. It is a fast image editor that allows users to enhance photos, apply effects, and add text, shapes, and drawings to photos.
A powerful photo editor, PhotoScape has a great toolbox with features such as a batch editor, RAW converter, and photo merger. The application is best suited for bulk image editing rather than graphic design.
Dubbed “Photoshopping in your browser,” SumoPaint is a versatile web based graphic design application. It combines a laidback interface with powerful image editing. A list of Photoshop alternatives would be incomplete without it.
Polarr is a professional photo editor with both a free and paid version. It is a very powerful and precise image editor, and it comes with in depth tutorials for the application’s basic and advanced features.
Although the application was discontinued and no longer receives updates, Seashore is still available on its website through previous versions. The application is somewhat basic but still supports multiple layers, anti-aliasing of text and brushes, alpha channel editing, and transparency.
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About the Author
Ben is a third-year university student from Stafford, Connecticut who attends McGill University in Montreal. He enjoys Halloween, writing, and going on adventures with friends. Ben’s interests lie in the fields of linguistics and gender studies, and he currently aspires to stay in Montreal post-graduation to work with gender advocacy organizations.