Photoshop, Adobe’s software for image editing, has become synonymous with photo editing. Adobe’s high-quality image editing software is still the favorite among designers, but there are several reasons why you might choose a different software – for example, the subscription model that comes with Photoshop. Perhaps you also want to support smaller development companies or simply don’t need the multitude of features that Photoshop offers. We have put together a list of alternatives for you here.
GIMP offers a wide range of tools that are similar to Photoshop in many ways and is a great option if you are looking for a free image editing program. The user interface is slightly different from Photoshop, but there is a version of GIMP that mimics the look and operation of Adobe, making the transition easier if you want to give up Photoshop.
The full range of tools is available here – everything you’re used to is easily accessible, including painting tools, color correction, cloning, selection, and enhancement. The development team has also made efforts towards compatibility, so you can work seamlessly with all common file formats. Additionally, a very powerful file manager is integrated, inspired by Adobe’s Bridge.
Overall, this is a good option if you have a limited budget or are looking for Photoshop alternatives for other reasons.
- + free
- + high customization through plugins and scripts
- + open source
- + supports layers and masks
- – interface may seem confusing at first
Paint.NET is a Windows-based alternative to the Paint editor that comes bundled with Windows versions. But don’t let that discourage you: it is a surprisingly powerful and useful tool that is available completely free on Getpaint.net (there is also a paid version in the Windows Store).
The software was originally a Microsoft-sponsored project for students and has become an open-source project maintained by some of the graduates. It focuses on user-friendliness, and there is a clear tendency towards photo editing rather than artistic design. Nevertheless, there are a number of special effects that allow you to easily create false perspectives, blend and move pixels on the canvas, tile and repeat selections, and more.
A good selection of selection tools, support for layers, and adjustments like curves and brightness/contrast mean that Paint.NET is a good alternative to Photoshop for photo editing, especially if you can do without some of the newer additions to the Photoshop toolkit.
- + free
- + resource-efficient; runs on low-performance PCs
- – fewer features than GIMP
- – only available for Windows PCs that support the .NET Framework
3. Affinity Photo
Affinity Photo is fully compatible with Photoshop and other file formats, and it is one of the Photoshop alternatives that directly targets professional photographers and designers. Although it is significantly cheaper than Photoshop, its developers claim that it is even better.
It promises higher speeds, fewer crashes, and unlimited undo, but in reality, the improved performance probably depends on the devices you use (it has been specifically designed to take advantage of the latest quad-core technology).
Affinity Photo is available for both Mac and Windows, and there is a separate version for the iPad. If you are looking for an alternative to Photoshop, Affinity Photo is definitely worth investigating.
- + extensive range of features
- + interface and operation nearly identical to Photoshop; easy transition
- – one-time purchase cost of 54.99 Euros for Windows/macOS or 21.99 Euros for iPad
4. Photoscape X
Photoscape X has established itself as a popular alternative to Photoshop over the years by adding numerous features. The software is very well designed in the latest version, and newcomers will quickly find their way around. Photoscape X offers the user numerous filters as well as the ability to capture and directly edit screenshots.
- + choice between free version and Pro version for 39.99 Euros
- + simple, clear operation
- – less extensive features than GIMP and Paint.NET
If you are looking for software for digital painting, Krita is a good alternative to Photoshop. One of the best things about Krita is that it has been developed as an open-source program by artists who want to provide access to high-quality, affordable software to others. And they have focused on tools that they know artists want and need. The brush tools, for example, are excellent (there are 100 brush types, 9 brush engines, and a brush stabilizer).
The user interface is very similar to Photoshop, so users familiar with Adobe’s software will have no trouble navigating. However, as a digital painting program, Krita definitely lacks some of the specific photo editing features of Photoshop.
- + free and open source
- + powerful and diverse options for brushes and other tools
- – lacks photo editing features
If you are looking for a drawing app for iPad as an alternative to Photoshop, you will hardly find a better value than Procreate. What started in 2010 as a simple drawing app has evolved over the years into a highly professional tool – so much so that it even won an Apple Design Award in 2013.
With its user-friendly layout, Procreate is packed with features that artists will love, from realistic pens and brushes (which can all be customized) to various export options and great community support. New features such as “QuickMenu” also speed up the workflow.
- + one-time purchase price of 10.99 Euros
- + constantly updated
- + easy to use
- – only available for iPad