Ever since it was first created in 1988, Adobe Photoshop has set the standard for all other graphics editors. Adobe Photoshop offers tons of great features which explain why this software giant is still so popular today; you can use Photoshop to retouch photos using professional tools, you can combine images and remove parts of an image to create a better picture, it comes with Lab color space, it offers duotone and spot color, and you can use it to edit 3D graphics and videos. Photoshop also offers tons of plug-ins and with the creative cloud package you can incorporate Photoshop with other software options including Lightroom, Illustrator and InDesign.
Adobe Photoshop recently turned 25 and it is still going strong, but despite all its snazzy features it just isn’t the best choice for everyone. Photoshop is not free and it’s not something every individual photo editor is willing to or able to afford, and whilst Photoshop advertises itself as ‘easy to use’ the tools can actually be quite complicated and hard to teach yourself. Photoshop skills are actually taught in Photography courses and degrees and they aren’t easy to learn, so if you just want to do some simple editing and improve your images for social media purposes Photoshop is likely to be too complicated and costly to suit your needs.
Even though Photoshop is probably the most well-known piece of photo editing software, it is not the only option. If you’re looking for a simple, free and no nonsense piece of photo editing software which will help you edit our photos quickly and easily then read on for our list of the 12 best free alternatives to Photoshop!
This is a free cross-platform photo editor which works with most operating systems. GIMP has all the tools you’ll need if you want to make sure your photos are social media ready, but it also has more advanced options for graphic designers, scientists and illustrators. You can use GIMP to edit high quality images and retouch or restore them to your hearts content. You can also create original artwork, utilize the graphic design options for mock ups and interfaces and more. It doesn’t offer quite as many options as Photoshop but it can offer your images a professional, polished touch without breaking the bank!
Paint.NET was originally designed as a free replacement for the well-known Microsoft Paint software, but it has now taken on a life of its own and morphed into an easy to use yet effective photo editing tool. It is entirely free and it offers a user friendly interface which gives you tons of options including tutorials, plug-ins, special effects, layers, and a friendly online community which can answer any questions you may have.
Paint.NET may not be as powerful as Photoshop, but it does offer all the basic features you need to successfully edit your photos. You also have the options of installing additional plug-ins for extra features. If you’re looking for an easy, human photo editing software then Paint.NET may be right for you.
So far it hasn’t been looking good for MAC users, but if you’re feeling left out of the Windows club then Seashore should cheer you up. Seashore is a free open source photo editor which was made specifically for the Mac OS X’s Cocoa framework. This application is based on GIMP’s technology and so it offers a lot of the same features such as multiple layers, anti-aliasing, gradients and textures.
Seashore was created for regular people who want to edit their photos quickly and easily rather than for professionals who want a complicated, detailed work tool. If you are looking to enhance your personal photos, then Seashore is for you.
This web based photo editor is ideal for browsing fanatics. Pixlr lets you edit on the web so you never have to leave your internet browser, and that’s just the start because you can also use Pixlr on your mobile so you can edit from anywhere. This editor is quite similar to Photoshop in terms of its features and layout, but it has the upside of being completely free. Pixlr is a little less powerful than Photoshop and if you over do the layering you can end up with some unattractive results, but all in all this is a great alternative for busy people everywhere.
PicMonkey is an Instagram style photo editor which is available in both free and premium versions. This tool is also available as a mobile app and it can be used from your internet browser in a similar way to Pixlr. This editor has some great features such as wrinkle removal, sticky overlays, tons of filters, collage tools and touch up options which can help you get the most out of your pictures for free.
SumoPaint is a web based photo editing tool which is very easy to set up because you don’t need to download anything in order to use it. This editor is available in free and premium versions and offers loads of fun tools such as brushes, gradients, moustaches, party hats and other options to play around with. SumoPaint isn’t designed to be a professional tool and it’s not as powerful or impressive as Photoshop or GIMP, but it is a fun little tool which is great for combating boredom and giving all your family and friends facial hair.
This is a free open source editing and painting tool which is specially designed for artists, illustrators, concept artists and the VFX industry. It has loads of options to make your life easier including a brush stabilizer tool which helps ensure your brush strokes are stable and smooth, a pop-up palette to help you choose and change colors, wrap-around mode to create smooth patterns which fit together easily, custom brush engines and more. This editor is supported by Linux, Windows, Unix and BSD.
CinePaint is a powerful open source editing and painting program which has been used by professional studios to help them design animated films. This free program can be used to retouch and editor your videos as well as retouch images and photos and it is a great choice for budding film makers everywhere. The one problem is that it is supported on all major UNIX systems but sadly not for Windows operating systems.
GrafX2 is a free bitmap paint program which specializes in 256-colour drawing. It offers a large number of features and tools which you can use to create graphics, pixel art, games and basically anything that can be painted with a mouse. This platform offers transparency effects, a palette editor, regular brush and more.
It is supported by Linux, Haiku, Mac OS X and most platforms excluding Windows.
That’s it for the free alternatives to Photoshop; we hope that if that is what you were looking for you found a program or two that tickled your interest. The following photo editing tools have to be purchased and may well offer more features and perks as a result
10. Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo is relatively new to the photo editing scene but it has already achieved rave reviews since its launch five years ago; Affinity Photo has received tons of 5-star ratings from customers and it was chosen as the best Mac app of 2015. This photo editor is a great choice for professionals. It allows for RAW editing, it is compatible with basically all file types, it lets you choose between any range of color spaces and it guarantees cross platform performance.
Among the list photo editing options, you can use there is a gradient, sharpener, red eye removal, blemish removal, perspective options and much more. It also lets you view any changes before you have to apply them to stop easy mistakes. This impressive piece of photo editing software is only £39.99.
11. Paintshop Pro X7
This photo editing tool from Corel is easy to use, extra responsive and it offers lots of project templates, text Presets and gradient tools which you can use to transform and enhance your photos at work or at home. Whether you want to professionally edit a photo for work purposes or you just want to quickly fix a photo for social media, this piece of software can help. It is available from £53.99 and includes a 30-day money back guarantee.
Pixelmator is a great alternative for everyone who uses Mac OS and/or the iPad. This photo editing tool is packed full of features including color adjustments, effects, shapes, sketching, retouching and more. Pixelmator is suitable for pro designers and professionals, and it is significantly cheaper than Adobe Photoshop at just $29.99.
That’s it for our guide to the 12 best alternatives to Photoshop, we hope you found what you were looking for. Do you have any comments? Did we leave your favorite alternative to Photoshop out? Let us know in the comment section below.