Adobe’s Photoshop is an exceptional image editing tool and not many other applications have come close to it over the years. It is a perfect tool for the professional designers and image editors. But, Photoshop is expensive. It offers tiered premium prices that not a lot of people can afford. Also, it has a steep learning curve and requires quite a bit of time getting used to. This is the reason why people are looking for an easier and more cost effective alternative to Photoshop. Thankfully, there are plenty of options that will not burn your pocket and are much easier to use. In this article we catalog the top 10 free alternatives to Photoshop you can use to make your images look more attractive and appealing. From layered editing to retouching, these tools offer it all.
1. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
There is absolutely no doubt in the minds of many experts that GIMP is the best alternative to Photoshop as far as the free programs are concerned. This open-source program has been around for quite a while and proven its worth in the past years. There is a huge community that supports this tool round the clock. GIMP comes packed with tons of exciting features. Of course it is not as powerful as Photoshop but it gives you much more than what you can expect from a free application like this. It has nearly all the basic features and a few advanced ones as well. It also supports layered editing. GIMP is compatible with all the popular OS platforms including Windows, Mac and Linux. It also supports a wide range of image formats such as GIF, BMP, JPEG, PNG, RAW, PSD, TIFF and more. GIMP also lets you extend its functionality with the help of third-party plugins. Cool! Isn’t it?
If you are a Mac user and looking for something exclusive to it, here is Seashore image editing software for you. Seashore is perhaps second best to GIMP when accounting the best free alternatives to Photoshop. In fact, native file formatting of Seashore is the same as that of GIMP. This is why you will find many similarities between the two. It has all the basic editing features including layered-editing, brush strokes, retouching, burn and dodge, gradients etc. While it is true that Seashore is not as powerful as GIMP (we are not even comparing it with Photoshop), but it can be quite a useful tool if all you are looking for is quick editing. Seashore supports JPEG, TIFF, PNG and XCF image formats.
Please do not confuse Paint.NET with MS Paint. Both are different programs. But, they share quite a bit of similarity. In fact, Paint.NET is considered as a more advanced and evolved version of MS Paint. If you have used Paint before, you will feel a sense of familiarity with Paint.NET.
It would be unfair to put Paint.NET in the same league as Photoshop, or for that matter even GIMP. It simply does not have as many features as these two. But, Paint.NET is supposed to be a basic image editing tool for quick retouches. And yes! It does pack plenty of basic editing functions and features. What’s surprising (delightfully) is that this tool lets you extend its functions and features with third-party plugins. Paint.NET is available only on Windows 7 and newer versions. It supports TIFF, RAW, PNG, BMP, GIF and JPEG formats.
If you want to edit the images, you don’t always have to install an additional program on your computer. You can also use an online editing tool that lets you edit your image right from the web browser. PicMonkey packs some really cool filters that instantly enhance and dramatize your images. At the same time, it has some cool tools like red-eye remover, blemish removal, etc. It has some Snapchat like features too, such as overlays to make your images funnier. PicMonkey is a web-based tool and hence all you need is a supported browser (such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari). It can work with various image formats such as JPEG, PNG, BMP, PNG and TIFF.
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Pixlr is easily one of the best web-based Photoshop alternatives. It may not be as feature-rich as Photoshop but it does bring many similarities to you. What’s really cool is that you don’t have to install anything on your computer. You just need a compatible browser such as Chrome or Firefox. It is not just the features that Pixlr borrows from Photoshop but also the keyboard shortcuts and the layout. It also lets you do the layered editing of the images. But, as you may have guessed, layer management isn’t as powerful as that of Photoshop. By the way, Pixlr also has Android and iOS apps, which you can download from the respective stores. It can work with image formats TIFF, JPEG, BMP, GIF and PNG. Pixlr is a great tool who are looking to quickly add overlays, textures, shapes, effects or filters to their images.
Krita isn’t as popular as the other editors we have listed in this article, but it is definitely one of the best you can get. It is an open-source tool that has won various awards and accolades. It is the part of the KOffice suite but you can also install it separately. We are not saying that Krita has many features as Photoshop or even GIMP. However, it is one of the best free tools out there for basic image editing. And, it has some advanced features as well. Krita is compatible with Windows and Linux. It supports all the image formats also supported on Windows.
This is another image editing tool not as well known as many others, but it sure has made a mark among a specific group of users. SumoPaint is a web-based image editing tool that offers a number of exciting editing features including gradient, pencils, brushes, text and a lot more. It supports a wide range of image formats including GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and BMP. SumoPaint is a free tool for the most part. But, if you wish to unlock the advanced features, there is a premium fee of $4 per month. Thankfully, the free version is good enough for most users.
GrafX2 is another free image editing program that perhaps offers the most extensive cross platform compatibility. Not only is it supported on the popular OS platforms such as Windows, Mac and Linux but also works on lesser known platforms like Haiku, MorpOS, FreeBSD and many other custom Linux distributions. The tool has been around for nearly two decades. It has gone through some dramatic transformation and now offers some incredible features such as wide selection of brushes, image effects, palette and more. What’s really great about GrafX2 is that it lets you draw in the indexed color mode. GrafX2 supports all the formats that are compatible with Windows.
CinePaint is feature-rich, free image editing tool. Even though it is free, it is still used by many professional image editors around the world. CinePaint is not any regular editing tool. You will be surprised to know that it has been used in many Hollywood animation projects. While it is primarily used as an image editor, it also doubles as the video editor. Unfortunately, it is not available on Windows Platform. It works only on the Unix based platforms, Linux, and Mac OS. This tool offers some advanced features such as 32-bit editing, frame management, and retouching. It supports various file formats such as BMP, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, OpenEXR, EXR, GIF, XCF and more.
10. Photos Pos Pro
There is a chance you may not have heard of Photos Pos Pro. Well, this means you are up for a very pleasant surprise. This image editing tool is a wonderful option for both beginners and experienced image editors. In fact, it also offers different interfaces for novice and expert users. With the notice interface, you will have quick access to various filters and auto-adjustment functions. The advanced interface looks quite like Photoshop and puts more advanced functions on the front. Pos Pro is a feature-rich, free alternative to Photoshop. But, it’s free version limits the size of the saved files to 1024 x 2014 px. The premium version will cost you approximately $20.
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