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Photoshop Alternatives

Mon May 5, 2014, 3:00 AM by nikkidoodlesx3:iconnikkidoodlesx3:

Photoshop Alternatives

Photoshop is one of the worlds most popular programs for editing images, but at $699.00 USD, it can put a huge dent in our wallets. So today I'm going to list off a few Photoshop alternatives, some that are free and some that are cheaper then what Adobe may offer. Now, these programs may not offer the exact same bells and whistles that Photoshop offers, but they still work extremely well. Some people actually prefer a free editing program to Photoshop. It's all about personal preference! 

Free Alternatives


Price: Free
Platform: Linux, Windows, Mac

An open-source alternative to Photoshop that's avaliable for Linux, Windows, and Mac. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program.  GIMP offers a wide a large variety in tools, very similar to Photoshop, and is a great alternative if you're looking for a no-cost image editor. The interface differs quite a bit from Photoshop, but there is a version of GIMP available that mimics Adobe's look and feel, making it easier to migrate over.


Price: Free
Platform: Windows is a Windows-based alternative to the Paint editor that Microsoft shipped with versions of Windows. Don't let that put you off, though, as it's a surprisingly capable and useful tool, available completely free of charge.


Price: Free for basic online version, $19 for pro version with offline app
Platform: Web browser (requires Adobe Flash Player)

Sumopaint is a browser-based image editor. All the standard features you'd expect from a desktop tool are present and correct (and by buying the Pro version for $19 you can install a desktop version of the app if you prefer). You need the Adobe Flash Player to use this tool. The standard range of tools and adjustments you'd expect are all included. There are many tools that are similar to tools you'd see in Photoshop.


Price: Free
Platform: Web browser (requires Adobe Flash Player)

Pixlr is a deeply impressive web-based image editor. Having three levels of editor - basic, intermediate and advanced, makes it very accessible to everyone. They have a wide range of tools to use.


Price: Free
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux

A decidedly power-user's tool. Its claim to fame is the use of vector graphics rather than bitmaps as the native format.


Price: Free
Platform: Mac

Seashore is a fairly basic image editor that's visually quite pleasing. Has a good amount of useable tools and feature, however no editable text layers is annoying though.

Cheaper Alternatives

Serif PhotoPlus X7

Price: $89.99/£79.99
Platform: Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP

PhotoPlus X6 is perhaps the most direct competitor to Photoshop. To be frank, the tool can be tricky for beginners to use, and lacks the slickness and reliability of its big-bucks competitor. But in the right hands it's possible to create quality work with PhotoPlus X6, and at under $90 it represents a huge saving on buying Photoshop CS6 or subscribing to Photoshop CC.


Price: $79.99/£54.99
Platform: Mac

Apple's Aperture is a brilliant alternative to Photoshop, in terms of photography and stock images. Aperture does lack features such as - animation, 3D, web, etc - but that makes it much simpler to use for photography. It's packed with innovative adjustment and enhancement tools to refine images.

Acorn 4

Price: $49.99/£34.99
Platform: Mac

Features of the software include layer styles, non-destructive filters, curves and levels, blending modes and much more. You can even save and modify your filters after you've closed and re-opened your Acorn image.

Paintshop Pro

Price: £59.99
Platform: Windows

Brought to you by the same software house that produces Painter, Paintshop Pro is a long-standing alternative to Photoshop that offers a huge range of photo-editing and graphics creation tools. Naturally there's support for layers here, and a complete suite of tools for editing, colour correcting, cloning and 'makeover' of photos, but you'll also find sophisticated art media tools with realistic brush effects and a range of vector options.


:bulletpink: What photo software do you use?
:bulletpink: Are there any tools in specific you think every software should have?
:bulletpink: What features of your image editing software do you absolutely love?
:bulletpink: Are there any image editors you would recommend?

Skin by SimplySilent
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DandiBambi Featured By Owner Edited Jun 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Eceveellent list, I will take a look at these when I get the chance. Surprised I don't see Krita on here for free software, it's interface is very similar to photoshop and it's one of my favorites.
rustymermaid Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
I still use Photoshop Elements 6 as long as its got layers and brushes I can do anything I need.
esalazioneHg Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
i think The GIMP could be more powerful then Adobe Photoshop in certain situation, for example it has the possibility of scripting, a plugin to work on raw (UFRaw plugin), fractal manipulation, etc.. and it's Free (as in Freedom), so you can ask for/work on new plugin, interact with the development community, ask for bug fix...
another great Free (both no-money and free as in freedom) software is Darktable. it's more like Adobe Lightroom then Adobe Photoshop, and it's my main choice for post-processing. it's multiplatform (GNU/Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, Microsoft Windows, MacOSX, source-code).
there is a lot of Free software for photomanipulation and post-processing out there, like Photivo, RawStudio, RawTherapee, UFRaw, etc.
BlacksmithofAngels Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
downloaded gimp.... honestly im scared to try it (actually making art) the concept is so new to me (from poetry and photography to actually making the art) is very intimidating, so im going to look for some tutorials so i can finally start
nikkidoodlesx3 Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I know the feeling! It was hard to start making art when all I used to do was edit a portrait! Tutorials were my art savior! XD
pearwood Featured By Owner May 6, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I use the Gimp for all my photo editing.  When I need something online or on my phone I use Pixlr.  "Beginning Gimp" is a good intro.
Kenseiden Featured By Owner May 5, 2014
good job!
Warriorartist0103 Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
MS Paint isn't that bad, I use it and many others do. You can change colors, use tools and it's free if you have windows. I may not be a good example of good art made from MS Paint but many people can make great work using it.
CrystalClear-Art Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I use my iPad and apps for all of my work. You can get various apps for layering, masking, applying filters and gradients, color detail adjustments, lighting effects, apply different finishes, and painting too.
RmacDhai Featured By Owner May 5, 2014
Thank you!
akio-stock Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Bullet; Pink What photo software do you use?
   GIMP, darktable

Bullet; Pink Are there any tools in specific you think every software should have?
   Layers, and the ability to move them up/down, merge and change opacity. Minimizing interface to only the painting space, like someone before me said. I have a small screen, so if I were to keep all the windows and all the tools visible, I'd have no space to draw on.

Bullet; Pink What features of your image editing software do you absolutely love?
   Oh, I loved Photoshop's Adjustment Layers... I wish GIMP had them.

Bullet; Pink Are there any image editors you would recommend?
   GIMP, definitely.
ADamselinDesign Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
There are a couple of features that I still use Paintshop Pro for as it handles certain tasks better and faster than Photoshop (faster meaning fewer steps). I prefer PSP's warp brush over the PS warp tool as with it being a brush you have much more precision. Removing Chromatic Aberration is easier/faster in PSP as well as there are 2 distinct tools to do it, one where you can use an eyedropper to select the exact color to be removed, as apposed to having to use the Hue/Saturation tool on the Magentas channel. 

Photoshop will always be the "industry standard" in terms of manipulation but my mantra is that if you are a truly talented artist then you can create art in any of these programs because a piece of software doesn't make the art, you do.
Ferrypras666 Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
But still, Adobe Photoshop is the most sought after software, used, and disseminated hijacked: D
Ferrypras666 Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I used Gimp, Inkscape, and Paint net :D :D :D
LuckyMcSmudgington Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lovely little list of suggestions here! I thought I may as well answer the questions at the bottom too just incase I end up helping someone out :)

What photo software do you use?
Personally I use Sketchbook pro, which only cost 20 and does more than what I need it for.

Are there any tools in specific you think every software should have?
The ability to minimise UI elements. From what I've seen, programs like Photoshop litter the screenspace with buttons and buttons and buttons, which I see as kinda wasted space. Then again I've never really liked Photoshop (price too high, and I don't pirate anything). If not that, when the program crashes it needs to let me save what the work was before loosing it all but I imagine most modern art programs have this in.

What features of your image editing software do you absolutely love?
I've used Paint because I've had no choice, and DAMuro because it was better than paint, but I love Sketchbook Pro to bits. It might not have all the tools people used to Photoshop want, but it's fine for someone like me and it's great for the price. Runs great on my budget computer too, which makes SKP even better in my eyes.

Are there any image editors you would recommend?
Sketchbook Pro because that's all I've used! If you visit the Autodesk website, they provide a 30 day trial for it, and there's even a free version of it called Sketchbook Copic if you're tight on budget and don't want to pirate. I can't recomend SKP enough, especially with the low price.

Hopefully having a nice list of great art programs that aren't in the 999 price range will be helpful to those on lower budgets :)
nikkidoodlesx3 Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for your input! I'm positive someone will find it very helpful! :D
msfowle Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
Photoshop Elements would be a good editing program for beginners or anyone on a tight budget. It certainly doesn't do everything the full Photoshop program does, but it's a fraction of the price and I've seen people do some pretty awesome things with it.
debzdezigns-lamb68 Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I use Elements. ;) Once I can afford Photo SHop, I will certainly get it, but for now, Elements does everything I need. AND you can get some pretty awesome plug-ins for it.
LadyEvilArts Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Professional General Artist
I think alternative software is fine as long as you are a beginner, can't see myself using any of them :no: Ps is expensive but it is a professional software, if you're a pro I think you can afford buying it. Art is an expensive hobby anyway. I use ps cs5, quite old version, and not planning to update it in the nearest future, it has all I need I think. Features I absolutely love and can't work without - liquify and warp :woohoo:
nikkidoodlesx3 Featured By Owner May 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I also use ps cs5 and i love it :)
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