Do you how much the full package of programs for digital artists and designers cost? Well, we’re not going to dig into numbers, especially since many professionals use different apps and tools. But there is one program that has become a “must-have” almost for everyone. Of course, we’re talking about Adobe Photoshop, which is without any doubts a powerful tool that covers all your needs regarding image editing. It is great when your company is paying for the product, but what to do if you are a freelancer and don’t have an unlimited budget to get this software?
Some would go for the pirated (or “cracked”) version of the product without a twinge of conscience. But we are living in the 21st century, and piracy is illegal today in any form. That is why the smartest solution to it would be to look for alternative products available for free download and use. In this article, we have collected the best Adobe Photoshop alternatives – some of them are absolutely free, some are very cheap, and some combine the first two models offering a different version of the same app. You can check all the programs on the list and decide which one suits your needs.
GIMP (which is an abbreviation for “GNU image manipulation program”) — is a well-known and community-drive analog of Photoshop with enthusiastic developers and a great community. Since the release of the first version of GIMP, the unofficial label of “Photoshop killer” firmly sticks on the program. This might be a big exaggeration that sounds too good to be true (taking into account, you are not paying a cent for GIMP), but this app has many basic and advanced features from the Adobe’s product.
Former Photoshop users may find this app a bit weird and inconvenient due to the multi-window interface at first. To make GIMP more Photoshop-like, you need to switch to the Single window mode (can be found in the “Windows” section). Another significant advantage of GIMP – it knows how to work with plugins. The program might not be the best when it comes to operation with multiple layers but still allows users to open and edit images in all popular formats. GIMP is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
It is a professional editor also available free of charge just like the previous one. Krita, however, is a more artist-oriented app. We would recommend to concept designers and digital artists in the first place.
Krita comes with good documentation that describes every little detail you should know about the program and its functions. You should not have any difficulties with learning it. Among available features, you will find things such as smart selection, layer tools, and other instruments that will cover your everyday needs (unless you are a professional architect, of course). In the gallery on the official website, you can find impressive work created with this wonderful editor.
Artists will be happy to know that Krita is compatible with graphics tablets such as Wacom, Huion, and Yiynova. Krita is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.
The first version of Paint.NET was created for the project by a student at the University of Washington. Originally, it had the open-source code and was shared among community members as an alternative to Microsoft Paint. Eventually, this small project evolved into a powerful yet simple instrument for image editing. It is more than enough for basing and semi-professional use.
In terms of features, Paint.NET falls behind Photoshop and GIMP, but it is much lighter and faster, so it covers another niche. Why would you ever use a space shuttle to go from one city to another – and why use Photoshop, when you just need to crop or resize one picture? If you need more than standard package offers, you can install additional plugins that expand the functionality of Paint.NET. For example, you can work with layers right away, but if you want masking – please install an appropriate plugin. This program has a big collection of filters and tools (not as much as GIMP does but still). We like simplicity and cleanliness of the Paint.NET interface as much as the fact it runs blazing fast on all devices, even old ones.
The biggest minus of this tool in our opinion is its limited compatibility – Paint.NET works only with Windows. If you need a similar app for other operating systems, you should check Pinta. It is a clone of Paint.NET with open-source code available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
Pixlr is a program by Autodesk. You know, those guys responsible for AutoCAD, 3DS Max, and Maya. Pixlr is compatible with Windows 10, and you can use it in your web browser or mobile app. All versions of the program (including the mobile one) are free. However, if you feel like you could use more features and options, you can always buy a subscription for the Windows 10 version that costs 15 bucks.
Check Pixlr: https://pixlr.com/
Photo Pos Pro 3
Photo Pos Pro 3 surely is not a very memorable name for an image editor, but we are talking about saving money of freeware alternatives for Adobe Photoshop here, right? Photo Pos Pro is equally good for beginners and more advanced users thanks to an intuitive and clean interface.
Out of the box, you have access to layers and masking, cloning, and different brushes. Standard color grading instruments, curves, scripts, frames, and collages are here as well. In case, you want more – Photo Pos Pro can be enhanced with multiple plugins that add some really cool feature to the already good product.
You have easily work with images that have a resolution up to 1024x2014, however, if you want to work with bigger shots and picture, you will have to buy premium for $35.
Check Photo Pos Pro 3: http://www.photopos.com/PPP3_BS/Default.aspx
SumoPaint is a multifunctional freeware image editor available in your web browser. It has all standard functions you would expect from a semi-pro Adobe Photoshop analog. You can use the web version of SumoPaint as much as you want without spending your money. There is also a Pro version and an app for iPad. Pro version of the program costs just $4 per month.
Standard editing tools in SumoPaint include brushes, forms, text, cloning, gradients, and so on. Opening and saving images can be done using a local PC. In order to use the web version of SumoPaint, you need to have Adobe Flash on your computer. Moreover, it is highly likely you will be asked to allow running Adobe Flash each time.
Check SumoPaint: https://www.sumopaint.com/
Originally available only for Macs, today Affinity Photo prospers on both main platforms – Windows and Mac OS. The program offers a wide range of various modules that substantially change working spaces according to the task you have chosen. Those modules are called “personas” in Affinity Photo. Main personas are:
- Photo Persona: default photo editing mode with things like cropping, brushes, erasing, warping, selections, and others.
- Liquify Persona: a designing a module with special warping effects. Great for creating stylish distortion of image areas.
- Develop Persona: for advanced editing of raw images – delicate color grading and tone managing. For the in-app development of raw images, giving you full control of image color and tone.
- Tone Mapping Persona: a dedicated module for tone mapping images.
- Export Persona: slice your project and easily export it in different formats selecting the needed resolution and pixel density with this one.
- Panorama Persona: create panoramic compositions by stitching small individual images into one big picture.
Each persona comes with its own set of tools, so take your time to learn them. You might even want to check some lessons on YouTube or other web sources. This program supports Photoshop formats, which is great in case you have just canceled your Photoshop subscription and now looking for a good alternative. Affinity Photo might be the one. However, this advanced alternative to Adobe Photoshop is not free – the cost is $50 (one-time payment, no subscriptions).
Check Affinity Photo: https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/
Photopea is a simple and convenient online image editing service. It has outstanding functionality for its niche and will be useful not only for beginners but also for experienced users that have used professional editing software before. This website will be your timesaver when you don’t feel like (or just don’t need to) working in heavy programs. Photopea lets you edit PSD (Photoshop) and XCF (GIMP) files in your web browser. And what is even more interesting – it allows you to save images in any format that can be opened by any standard editing tool.
Other notable features of Photopea:
- Create new PDS files.
- Edit layers easily.
- Change colors, opacity, size.
- Create masks like in Photoshop.
- Apply filters and change the amount of noise, blur, and sharpness.
Check Photopea: https://www.photopea.com/
The number of options and cool features for photo editing in this one is truly impressive. Well, it is not like second Photoshop, no, but it is definitely not Paint. Plus it is super-fast. If you are looking for a lightweight editing tool that won’t affect your system load – try Photoscape. Even ancient laptops with old microprocessors and 2Gbs of RAM will make friend with Photoscape.
The program has some very cool things added to the mix such as RAW-to-JPG converter, collage-making instruments, GIF generator, and batch image editing. All of this is available in the ‘free-for-all’ mode. The only moment we find a bit off in this program is its weird “outdated” interface. That’s all, nothing more to complain about.
The developers of this service made their bat on a huge collection of stickers, filters, frames, and effects that can be applied to any image in one click. Many standard features from professional photo editing software are also available in BeFunky. Alas, most features of the service require a subscription but each section has a couple of filters and effects available for everyone without paying. Mobile users will find the interface of BeFunky very familiar and convenient. For desktop users with Photoshop experience, it will take some time to adapt and be able to find all the needed instruments quickly.
All in all, we liked the functionality of this instrument, especially its colossal collection of effects and pre-made templates. On the downside: locked features and debatable interface. But if you can edit your images in the browser, why even use Photoshop? When you don’t need all those professional features, BeFunky is a good Adobe Photoshop alternative.
Check BeFunky: https://www.befunky.com/create/
Adobe Photoshop Express
Well, it is not a big surprise that developers at Adobe understand this simple fact: not everyone needs an ultimate photo and image editing software that costs like a spaceship. That is why they created a free version of their program, a very feature-light free version, to be precise. Still, Adobe Photoshop Express is an alternative. Simple, reliable, browser-based.
Adobe Photoshop Express is available for Windows, Android, iOS and in your web browser as well. You can perform simple editing such as cropping, rotating, etc. Besides those functions, you also have access to masking stains and dirt on your photos in one click. Or you can activate an automatic fix to adjust contrast, exposure, and white balance. Some filters and frames are also added in Adobe Photoshop Express, but most users prefer to make manual editing instead of using those.
Adobe Photoshop Express is not only for desktop and laptops – it can be used on your smartphone or tablet as well. We would say that this app rather reminds us of Instagram, not the original version of Photoshop. All integrated tools and instruments work as good as in the desktop version. In order to use some advanced features, however, you need to invest a bit.
Check Adobe Photoshop Express: https://www.photoshop.com/products/photoshopexpress