Photoshop has dominated the design industry for more than two decades as the top design tool for Photo editing & UI design. However, there are some free Photoshop alternatives which have entered the market over the last few years or so.
Now these free tools/applications are a great alternative if you are looking for basic editing or design tasks. Photoshop is a bulky tool, meaning it’s a complete tool with lot of advanced settings & options. More often than not these advanced options are not needed by everyone. Designers often need a subset of options to work on an image or UI and free tools provide these options.
So, take a look at these great Photoshop alternatives which are free to use and get going with your design work.
Free Photoshop Alternatives
Inkscape makes use of SVG as the native format which makes it a great tool to edit vector graphics. It’s similar to Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator and has many options for easy editing of vector graphics.
In terms of features, GIMP can be termed as the best free tool which comes close to Photoshop. Having said this, Photoshop & GIMP are quite different and there might be a learning curve involved before you start utilizing all features of GIMP. Now, GIMP is an old player and its first version was released back in the 90’s. The initial release was not perfect and there were few shortcomings. But over the years GIMP has evolved with some major updates. GIMP supports all operating systems – Windows, Linux & OS X.
For Windows users, Paint.NET is a favourite photo editor tool. Although it doesn’t have all the top end features from Photoshop or GIMP for that matter, it’s still a complete tool for photo editing. Some of the notable features offered by Paint.NET are the layer support with a nice list of effects. Paint.NET community has also developed few plugins which extend the basic features. For instance, support for additional file types. As far as the user interface is concerned, Paint.NET offers a very user friendly interface with no cluttering and even a novice user can get started quickly.
Pixlr is an online web app for image editing. Being a browser based tool, it offers lot of flexibility and you can use it from anywhere. Pixlr’s interface is similar to Photoshop in many aspects and offers various selection tools, text overlays, layer support & amazing effects. Pixlr is more than a basic photo editor online, it has a plethora of advanced options.
PicMonkey falls into the basic free online photo editor’s category. It doesn’t have lot of advanced settings but lets you play with textures, shapes & style effects. PicMonkey was created by the same people who designed Picnik (Now acquired by Google).
Adobe Photoshop Express
For those who want to stick to Photoshop without paying the expensive monthly fee, Photoshop Express is your best bet. It’s a free version of Photoshop and offers a subset of features like red-eye removal, cropping, resizing and a touch up tool. Photoshop Express is browser based photo editor and is also available as an app in the app store. Notable features include:
- Burn, highlight & Dodge Photoshop staples
- 3 Brush sizes
- Pixelate, Sketch, Crystallize, Pop & Distort effects.
Krita is a comprehensive open source photo editor that is rich in feature set. Features offered by Krita are comparable to GIMP and is a good choice for digital artists & illustrators. The interface looks lot like Photoshop and has many setting similar to Photoshop. Krita offers layer support and has numerous in-built Brush Presets.
ChocoFlop is a Mac only image editor similar to Corel Draw.
PhotoPlus is a Windows only photo editing tool that enables you to work on bitmap graphics. You may fix the images and even create animated banners.