12 Best Free Photoshop Alternatives You Should Try

Last Updated: May 7, 2016

Adobe Photoshop, which has recently turned 25 and celebrated in some fashion has become so dominant among industry professionals, there is seldom an alternative suggested to it. It is the to-go choice of the professional designer and illustrator, albeit the one which cannot be afforded by the ordinary individual. While monetary barrier is one case, the user-friendliness of the tool calls into question for many users. For some ordinary user in just the need of an occasional photo touch-up, Photoshop seems too grandiose.

With a simpler to use interface and as a much cheaper or free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, these following tools might be ones you just need for your photo editing tasks.

Free Photoshop Alternatives

1. GIMP

gimp - photoshop alternative

‘GNU Image Manipulation Program’, or as it is widely known as – GIMP is the best free alternative to Adobe Photoshop you’ll ever stumble across. With a widely supported community and with its cross compatibility over a range of operating systems, GIMP clearly stands out as the best free alternative to Photoshop. Although it doesn’t offer quite a features like Photoshop, it possess ample features to let you edit your photos in a breeze and with a stint of professionalism to it.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, Unix, SkyOS
  • Key Features: Layers, Selection editing, HDR, Re-touching, Noise removal, Lens and Colour correction, Sharpening, Plugin support, etc.
  • Supported File Formats: RAW formats, BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, etc.
  • Price: Free

2. Paint.NET

Paintnet

If you have ever used the default Windows Paint, you’ll be much familiar with Paint.NET. This tool was originally developed to be a more advanced version of Windows Paint, and it does inherit many features from the nifty default Windows program. The tool is less powerful than GIMP or Photoshop, but it takes well care of all the basic features you would ever require in an image editing tool. You can also extend the functionality of this tool by installing the plugins developed by the vast community supporting this platform. If you want a less-cluttered and more ‘humanly’ photo editing interface, Paint.NET would just be the right fit for your needs.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows 7 or Later
  • Key Features: Selection editing, Layers, Histogram, Retouching, Resizing, Noise removal, Sharpening, Colour correction, Plugin support.
  • Supported File Formats: RAW files, BMP, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG.
  • Price: Free

3. Seashore

seashore-low

If you are based on Mac and are feeling left out, don’t worry, Seashore is a open-source image editing tool based on Mac’s Cocoa framework. This tool makes use of the same native file formatting as GIMP does and that makes the case for this tools offerings of similar features as offered on GIMP. Although not quite powerful as Photoshop or GIMP, this tool offers major editing features like brush strokes, gradients, multiple layers and much of all the good stuff. Simple to use and an easy-on-the-eye interface is all the Seashore image editing tool is all about.

  • Supported Platforms: Mac OS X
  • Key Features: Layers, Alpha channel support, gradients, transparency, Anti-aliased brushes and Plugin support.
  • Supported File Formats: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, XCF.
  • Price: Free

Online Photoshop Alternatives

4. Pixlr

pixlr-editor-screenshot

If you are one of those browser maniacs, who just doesn’t like to close his browser for editing an image, Pixlr is the best web-based image editing tool you’ll ever come across. If you are ever going to get close to Photoshop without paying a cent, and without leaving your browser, Pixlr is the simply the best web-based image editor. With similar features, layouts and keyboard short-cuts to that of Photoshop, Pixlr is a great free online iteration of the image editing behemoth, albeit a less powerful one. Overdoing too many layers on Pixlr can make things ugly, and it is something you must keep away from.

  • Supported Platforms: Web-Based, Android, iOS
  • Key Features: Selection tools, Text overlays, Layers, Re-sizing, Red-eye removal, teeth whitener, Filters and Effects, etc.
  • Supported File Formats: BMP, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG.
  • Price: Free

5. PicMonkey

picmonkey

PicMonkey is another image editing tool, which lets you edit your images, right off your browser. The tool offers some great Instagram-like image editing filters and some other nifty tools like blemish removal, wrinkle removers and such, which may tarnish your image for the worse, if overdid. You can add more flair to your images with sticky overlays as in funny moustaches and party hats. Although not quite well off the ground, the free version of PicMonkey has only much to offer.

  • Supported Platforms: Web-Based
  • Key Features: Shapes, textures, text, effects, filters and overlays, etc.
  • Supported File Formats: BMP, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG.
  • Price: Free

6. SumoPaint

sumopaint

Available in both free and paid versions, SumoPaint is an web-based image editing tool with some features like the Symmetry tool, gradients, brushes and other fun image editing tools. The party hats and funny masks and moustaches have also found their way through in SumoPaint and make it a fun to use image editing tool. Nothing comparable to Photoshop or GIMP, but a lightweight and fun image editing free online tool is what SumoPaint is all about.

  • Supported Platforms: Web-Based
  • Key Features: Brushes, Pencils, text, gradient and other editing and formatting tools.
  • Supported File Formats: BMP, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, PNG.
  • Price: Free, $4/month for Pro version

Linux and Open source Photoshop Alternatives

7. Krita

Krita Alternative to Photoshop

Krita has won several applauds for being one of the best image editing tools, based for the open-source platforms like Linux and Unix. The tool comes as a bundle with the KOffice suite and is a great choice for all your image editing needs on an open-source platform. Although lacking in quite a few departments when compared to Photoshop or GIMP, this free tool is in it own rights makes up for one powerful image editor.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Linux, BSD, Unix.
  • Key Features: 
  • Supported File Formats: Any Windows-compatible media format
  • Price: Free

8. CinePaint

mac.cinepaint

CinePaint is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill image editing tool, it is a much powerful image retouching tool with support for even high 32-bit colour fidelity. This free tool has been used by major Hollywood studios to design Animated feature films in the past. The tool is highly versatile and can also be used to edit or retouch your videos and not just images. Supported on all major UNIX based systems, there is no stable version for the Windows operating system.

  • Supported Platforms: Linux, BSD, Unix, Mac OS X
  • Key Features: 32-bit image editing, Retouching, Frame manager, etc.
  • Supported File Formats:  BMP, CIN, DPX, EXR, GIF, JPEG, OpenEXR, PNG, TIFF, and XCF.
  • Price: Free

9. GrafX2

Grafx2 photoshop like software

GrafX2 is a free image editing tool for all the open-source platforms and also supports the Mac OS X and Windows. Initially released as a pixel art in 1996, the recent stable version of this free tool offers many key image editing features like palette editor, transparency and other effects and brushes. Apart from the regular brush, tools and effects, the GrafX2 was basically designed for drawing in indexed colour mode.

  • Supported Platforms: Linux, DOS, Windows, Haiku, AmigaOS, MorphOS, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, Atari MiNT
  • Key Features: Drawing in indexed colours, Palette editor, Color cycling, Transparency, number of effects and brushes.
  • Supported File Formats: Any Windows-compatible media format
  • Price: Free

Paid Photoshop Alternatives

10. Serif Photoplus X7

Serif_PhotoPlus_X7

If you are looking for a paid alternative to Photoshop, yet a cost-efficient one, Serif Photoplus X7 is your best bet. This tool by Serif is the closest you can get to Photoshop, on a budget. The learning curve of this tool is pretty high and it is definitely not advised for the beginners and novice. Instead of subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud or pay a huge sum for Photoshop, you can access a professional image editing in the form of Photoplus X7.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows
  • Key Features: Crop, PhotoFix, Resize, Cloning, Studio editing effects, etc.
  • Supported File Formats: RAW formats, BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, etc.
  • Price: £79.99

11. Paintshop Pro X7

Corel Paintshop Pro X7

With a lot of image editing and graphics tools under its belt, Paintshop Pro comes from Corel. This cost-effective tool is one of the best cost-effective alternative to Photoshop, with a slick user interface and a much attention being dedicated to photography. The built-in library of tools and brushes can be easily extended by plugins which are also supported on Photoshop. Its sophisticated tools and realistic brushes make it a great Photoshop alternative, developed by the maker of Painter.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows
  • Key Features: Magic Fill, Brushes, Text/shape cutting, Colour Material palette, enhanced dialog boxes, etc.
  • Supported File Formats: RAW formats, BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, etc.
  • Price: $63.99

12. Pixelmator

Pixelmator photoshop alternative for Mac

Pixelmator is a paid alternative to Photoshop for those based on Mac OS X. This tool offers support for both the latest Mac OS X Yosemite and the iPad. This is a full-featured image editing tool for your Mac-based system. The advanced technology used by this tool makes the entire image processing on your system even faster than ever before. The fast and fluid image editing tool is something every pro designer would prefer at any given time. By being cost-effective when compared to Adobe Photoshop, Pixelmator is a full-blown alternative to Photoshop you should definitely consider, given its extremely low pricing.

  • Supported Platforms: Mac OS X
  • Key Features: Texts, Shapes, Sketching, Painting tools and Brushes, Colour adjustments, Retouching, Effects, etc.
  • Supported File Formats: RAW formats, BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD, etc.
  • Price: $29.99

 SEE ALSO: 15 Best Video Editing Software

Is there any of your favourite Adobe Photoshop alternative missing out from this list? Feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

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Srikanth A.N. is a freelance writer whose articles got mentions from the likes of The New York Times, Kissmetrics and AllTopStories. He writes articles, novels and poems; spends most of his time reading everything he could get his hands on. He is currently pursuing his Masters from The University of Illinois and holds a Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from the University of Mumbai. He is a programmer, a motivational writer and speaker. Reach him at his social media profiles linked below.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Photoshop’s not the only image editor on the market but it is the best in the market.
    While it is indeed powerful, from an artist’s perspective it is difficult to use. And it is too expensive.
    Thanks for all the alternatives to Adobe’s software. They are also useful. But one one great alternative to photoshop is missing in your list – PixelStyle Photo Editor. It is also photoshop killer.

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