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Our 12 Favorite Photoshop Alternatives

Looking for programs like Photoshop—without the hefty price-tag? Here are our trusty go-to Photoshop alternatives, from desktop applications to web-based tools.

Everyone should be able to access great photography and design programs without having to break the bank. Given that Adobe is always raising the price of its Creative Cloud subscription plan, we wanted to round up our favorite Photoshop alternatives—including some free Photoshop alternatives—that will allow you to produce gorgeous work for your online photography portfolio or online design portfolio at a fraction of the cost. If you need programs like Photoshop, these 12 options will serve you well. Let’s dive in!

Free Alternatives to Photoshop

GIMP

Compatible with: macOS, Windows, Linux

Arguably the most popular Photoshop alternative, GIMP is a powerhouse image editing program. Despite the depth of tools, effects, and features, GIMP has and will always be a free product—sort-of like an open-source Photoshop. The program offers a sophisticated yet easy-to-use program that is constantly evolving.

Pixlr Editor

Compatible with: Everything

As a cloud-based program, Pixlr is available through any which device, so long as you’ve got access to the Internet. The best part? This is a free Photoshop alternative and easy to use! Feature-wise, it’s not as powerful as Photoshop, but for basic editing functions like refined selections, layering, or touch-ups, Pixlr gets the job done.

Fotor

Compatible with: macOS, Windows

Billed as a “revolutionary photo editor and design maker,” Fotor definitely delivers. This free Photoshop alternative offers photo editing, collage making, and basic freehand design. Packed with heaps of beautiful themes and templates, Fotor is a wonderful alternative for those looking to create, and create fast.

Sumo Paint

Compatible with: Everything

Give it up for one of the remaining Flash-based image editing programs out there, Sumo Paint. Sumo Paint focuses on illustration, offering something of a bridge between Photoshop and Illustrator. Noted by MacWorld for its “quirkiness,” Sumo Paint enables artists to loosen up a bit and embrace their zanier ideas.

Paint.NET

Compatible with: Windows

Yet another free Photoshop alternative, Paint.NET is a fun alternative for designers who work on Windows. We love the wide breadth of tools and powerful features, including support for layers, unlimited undos, and other cool effects. Interestingly, Paint.NET was originally created for a student project; now, it has evolved from its humble beginnings into a formidable graphics editor that some even prefer over Photoshop.

Krita

Compatible with: macOS, Windows, Linux

With an interface patterned on Adobe’s flagship product, Krita is widely considered the premier free Photoshop alternative. Krita’s has a fanbase of devoted users, who are passionate advocates for the fledgling Photoshop alternative. Although it’s primarily geared toward designers and illustrators looking to create new works from scratch, Krita is also equipped with a number of key photo editing and manipulation features.

Rawstudio

Compatible with: macOS, Linux

Photographers know better than anyone that working with RAW image formats can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re managing numerous different files. Enter Rawstudio: a free Photoshop alternative designed, expressly, for manipulating RAW image files. As the name suggests, Rawstudio enables photographers to achieve the results they want without sacrificing so much as a pixel of quality. Rawstudio triumphs in the formatting arena, providing users with a robust and effective tool for reviewing multiple RAW image files at once. The original developer’s goal was simple: to build a photo processing app that supports nearly every RAW format from all digital camera makers.

Affordable Photoshop Alternatives

Affinity Photo

Compatible with: macOS/iOS, Windows

With a history almost as rich as Adobe’s, Affinity has been developing and marketing photo editing and illustration software for over two decades. Their Photoshop alternative, Affinity Photo, is built upon one, all-important notion: speed. If you’re looking for programs like Photoshop that are super-fast, Affinity Photo is amazing. The program’s interface is also smooth and uncomplicated, providing photographers (and designers) with a strong, affordable Photoshop alternative. Retailing at just $49.99, Affinity Photo bucks the subscription model in favor of a one-time payment.

Pixelmator Pro

Compatible with: macOS/iOS

Falling into the open-source Photoshop alternative camp, Pixelmator Pro has amazing overall performance and speed (for $39.99, no less). How? Pixelmator bypasses traditional graphics editors by running through a different part of the computer, which frees up a ton of memory. (In layman’s terms, this means you won’t have to close a bunch of programs before opening it up. Everything should remain unaffected by its usage.) What’s more, Pixelmator is packed with all of Photoshop’s key features while also offering tools for drawing vector-based graphics.

Acorn

Compatible with: macOS

What do you get when you combine bitmap editing with vector drawing tools? This Photoshop alternative! Like many of its competitors, Acorn handpicked certain elements from Photoshop for its features, stripping away the extras to give users a simple, fast, and effective image editing program. It already feels like Photoshop’s slick, younger—and much cooler—cousin. And affordable: it’s only $29.99.

ArtRage

Compatible with: macOS/iOS, Windows, Android

With a seemingly infinite number of brushes and brush heads to choose from, there aren’t many programs like Photoshop that meet the specific needs of a professional painter. ArtRage is the fiercest competitor. This Photoshop alternative is available on desktop and mobile devices, but it’s at its most functional—and fun—when used on a tablet. Substitute the mouse (or sketch pad) with your own fingers and you’ll soon recall the sheer delight of creating with your hands. It clocks in at $79.

Best Photoshop Alternatives

The category of Photoshop alternatives which are considered best are the ones which are closest in comparison. Aside from GIMP which is talked about in an early section, and could also be considered one of the best, there is one honorable mention for this section.

Corel PHOTO-PAINT 2018

Compatible with: Windows

Part of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2018, Corel PHOTO-PAINT 2018 is no stranger to the photo editing world. The Corel Photo-Paint products have been in development for over 27 years, and is a direct competitor to Adobe Photoshop, making it one of the best Photoshop alternatives. Some of the top features to highlight about this popular raster graphics editor are:

  • Corel AfterShot 3 HDR for powerful RAW image editing
  • Straighten photos interactively
  • Adjust photo perspective dynamically
  • Publish to WordPress and other streamlined web exporting
  • Professional photo retouching and enhancement

Corel PHOTO-PAINT 2018 has a similar subscription model, where it will cost you $18.25 CAD a month, or $219 for the year. Alternatively, you can purchase the program in full for $599 CAD, but it does not include future updates, which need to be purchased separately, unlike in the subscription model, which will keep your product up-to-date at all times.

Don’t Forget to Upload Your Creations to Your Online Portfolio!

Once you’ve delved into these Photoshop alternatives and turned out some fabulous new work, make sure to upload your creations into your online portfolio to entice potential employers and clients alike.

Don’t have one? No sweat. Use a website builder to create one in mere minutes. Just make sure to choose an online portfolio with a diverse range of themes and flexible, customizable pages and layouts. Other cool features to look for include Instagram integration, and a built-in online store and blog.

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We can’t wait to see what you can create with all these awesome Photoshop alternatives!

Want more design tools and resources?
The 11 Best Free Online Photo Editors
9 Free Google Chrome Apps Every Artist Needs
The 10 Best Online Graphic Design Software Programs

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