For decades, Adobe Photoshop has been the industry standard for graphic design. However, its higher price tag and recent transition to a subscription model drove many users to seek more affordable tools.
This article will compare the 15 best free alternatives to Photoshop. We’ll go through the pros and cons of each one, and ultimately, you’ll be able to decide on the best free software for your business.
PicsArt photo editor is an app for iOS and Android. It has powerful tools for beginners who need quick edits on a mobile device, but it also suits professional artists and photographers.
Besides effects, stickers, and remixes, the app lets users edit photos with drawing tools and other resources unusual for mobile apps, like a collage feature.
The tool integrates with social media, allowing you to share your pictures and comment on posts.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is well-known and highly regarded. It’s often considered the best free Photoshop alternative.
The editor is open-source and developed by a dedicated community around the world. It has all the same features you can find in professional paid programs like Photoshop and Affinity Photo, including vector tools.
You can add plenty of more advanced features with free plugins, like printing of CMYK colors or support for RAW photo editing.
Despite its advantages, GIMP has a steep learning curve, and some important features, like editing layers and typography, are complicated and could be improved.
Paint.NET was launched as an improved version of MS Paint. It has less power than Photoshop but still packs a lot of features – including tools not included in the original MS Paint, like pen and drawing tablet support with pressure sensitivity.
Unlike Photoshop or GIMP, Paint.NET is intuitive and easy to use.
The program is also considerably quicker than most other free photo editing software and expandable via plugins, adding effects and custom brushes from Adobe Photoshop. Support for PDF, vectors (SVG, SVGs), Adobe (PSD, AI), and more are also available through plugins provided by an engaged community.
Paint.NET is suitable for users looking for reasonably complex features like managing layers without the long time required to master other more complex editors.
A complete and powerful online photo editor, Photopea offers the expected features of conventional professional desktop software.
Photopea gives around 60 editing tools, including layers, brushes, pencils, many selection tools, a magic wand and lasso, a red-eye tool, sharpen, smudge, and geometric shapes.
Sought-after functions like background removal are available for free.
This popular photo editing software connects with Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. It supports raster, vector, and RAW files and accepts all popular file formats, including SVG, PSD, AI, and even GIMP’s XCF and Google SketchUp.
All features are available in the free version with ads. A $3.33 monthly subscription removes ads and includes email support.
Canva is a popular online Photoshop alternative. The freemium tool has an intuitive interface and relies heavily on templates, delivering graphic design elements for the web.
You can also edit images, alter sizes, apply filters and effects, share the graphic elements on social media, and store them in a creative cloud.
Canva offers a lot of pre-built graphic elements that you can insert in images and edit, but many of its resources, including background removal, require a subscription plan (from $12.99 monthly).
The Pixlr suite offers various programs and apps whose functions overlap a bit, including a mobile app and browser-based editors. The solution’s curated interfaces are similar to popular editors like Photoshop Elements and GIMP.
Pixlr X has plenty of templates, from collages, social media posts, and Etsy banners to flyers, posters, invitations, or business cards. It’s one of the only free options with an AI generator. It also provides background or object removal and a collage maker.
Pixlr E is an online advanced photo editor, also free. Its interface and functions are similar to Photoshop’s earlier versions and provide the expected tools, including brushes, selection tools, lasso, layers, and more.
However, this free version has more advertising than Photopea’s, with ads occupying around 20% of the interface.
Paid subscriptions start from $0.75 per month.
The Pixlr editor reportedly has issues processing RAW photos and has a long loading time.
VistaCreate (ex Crello)
VistaCreate is an online design app for iOS or Android focused on creating graphic assets for social media, blog posts, and other marketing purposes.
VistaCreate’s starter plan is free and gives access to over one million graphic assets, including fonts, animations, backgrounds, frames, more than 50,000 animated templates updated weekly, and a brand kit with logos and palettes. Some assets can have royalty restrictions in the free plan.
It also gives 10 GB of storage space and unlimited downloads.
VistaCreate tools include a background remover (with a transparent background option), flipping, rotating, cropping, and resizing images, and basic tools for adding text and speech bubbles to photos.
Users can also add transparency and layers and use filters such as blur with the background.
The pro plan (from $13 monthly) adds team accounts, more brand kits, and no storage limit.
The app is recommended for freelancers or people needing quick graphic solutions. It doesn’t offer in-depth editing capabilities, but it’s handy for graphic designers and beginners who don’t need all of Photoshop’s resources.
Sumopaint is part of the Sumo suite for content creation, which was recently completely updated. All the suite apps are available online and on a desktop. While there is a free option online, the desktop version requires subscribing to a plan (from $4) or purchasing the suite for a one-time payment of $89.
The whole suite offers, besides Sumopaint, software for audio, video, 3D, game creation, streaming, and GIF animations.
The recent suite updates greatly improved its quality and range, improving the effects controls and software performance.
Sumo apps’ interfaces are streamlined, intuitive, and user-friendly. There are a great number of tools, brushes, and effects. While some – like lenses – are available in the free version, others, like background removal, need upgrading.
Considering the one-time payment option and the impressive amount of apps and resources, the Sumo suite offers a lot of bang for the buck compared to any Photoshop alternative.
However, if taken alone, the Sumopaint app faces stiff competition from free apps like Photopea and GIMP and paid options like Affinity.
PhotoScape X is primarily a free photo editor with additional features like photo management, image stitching, semi-automatic cropping, animated GIFs, color correction, screen capture, skin retouching, and RAW image processing.
PhotoScape X lets you import Photoshop brushes and enhancing tools and gives tools for photo restoration usually found in top contenders.
Still, it’s not a professional tool and is more suitable for hobbyists, beginners, or anyone looking for basic photo editing and quick-enhancing options on small images.
Its main fault relates to memory and file processing – it may freeze if you need to edit multiple photos at once and can be glitchy when enhancing large files. Also, it can decrease image quality while saving files.
MyPaint is a free, open-source raster graphic editor focused on digital painting instead of image manipulation.
The tool is currently also available for Windows and macOS. It integrates well with Wacom graphics tablets and similar devices, delivering good expressivity and reaction to the pressure and speed of strokes.
The original program added features after user requests and feedback, becoming popular with artists. It includes tools to emulate traditional painting brushes, including ink, paint, pencil, and charcoal.
Another selling point of MyPaint is its focus on simplicity and streamlining the interface. The tool allows fullscreen mode to imitate the experience of an artist working with real tools as much as possible.
MediBang Paint is a fun paint app focused on digital art, illustration, manga, and comics, transforming mobile devices into portable digital canvases.
Available for desktop (Windows, Mac) and mobile (Android, iOS, iPad) devices, its PC version is free, but recently, the company created a subscription (starting from 2,480 JPY/year – about $17 without considering card conversion fees) for other platforms.
MediBang Paint lets you scan and import images, combine traditional and digital art, and allows the artist to color or paint over sketches drawn on paper.
The mobile app is user-friendly, and its interface is well-thought-out and clean, making good use of the scarce space on a smartphone screen.
Still, there are many editing tools, from brushes to layers (user-friendly), filters, and effects.
Premium users have exclusive brushes and filters, can specify the folders in which files are saved, use local fonts, and have more options for export. Also, the ads are removed.
FireAlpaca is a free Photoshop alternative targeting illustrators focusing on Manga aesthetics.
The tool is powerful and reliable, packed with features for illustrators or users interested in creating designs, including selection tools, brushes, pencils, 3D perspective, light performance, and layer manipulation. It can run smoothly on less powerful computers.
The FireAlpaca Hub is packed with hands-on tutorials.
Despite the variety of functions, FireAlpaca is user-friendly and serves artists interested in designing but with no interest in delving too deep into technicalities. However, as a raster (bitmap) editor, it doesn’t work with vectors.
The program is available for Windows and Mac on the FireAlpaca website. An ads-free paid version with Dark Mode is available for download at Steam for one payment of $39.99.
Photo Pos Pro
Photo Pos Pro checks all the boxes for a Photoshop alternative – it offers various custom brushes, layers, healing tools, effects, and filters.
Its interface is organized like GIMP and similar tools. However, Photo Pos Pro has a novice layout option that makes it easier for new users to understand how it works.
The editor supports many file formats and is compatible with other programs. PSD files with layers created with it can be easily edited in Photoshop and vice-versa.
Photo Pos Pro is complex but well-rounded and suits both freelancers needing some professional tools and beginners.
Some tools require upgrading to the premium version (one payment of $34.90) and are hardware-intensive. That includes editing vectorial objects, smart AI selection, and grouping layers and objects.
Also, the free version and the company website have many ads, making navigation challenging.
Professionals may find better value in other paid software like Affinity Photo or even free Photoshop alternatives like GIMP.
This user-friendly online photo editor focuses on quick edits for social media and internet graphic elements. As such, Fotor is more suitable for non-professionals and hobbyists.
However, Fotor can be valuable even for professionals when managing their online presence. Some features that require payment in other platforms – like the background remover – are free.
Fotor has three main functions – edit, collage, and design. While the edit and design capabilities are limited compared to Photoshop or online competitors like Photopea, Fotor’s features are considerably easier to use.
Its portrait retouching tools, including features like the one-tap enhance button, red-eye, and wrinkle removal, produce great results for personal pictures.
Polarr is a photo editing tool for Android and iOS based on filters. The app provides color correction and easy skin adjustments.
There is a considerable number of filters, and users can create their own in the Pro version (from $7.99 monthly), but it’s not possible to install third-party plugins as with many Photoshop alternatives.
The photo editing tool is intuitive and user-friendly, with a clean interface. Polarr is helpful in adjusting photos for social media, but many of its functions are already on Instagram and TikTok, making it hard to justify the subscription cost.
Picked Your Software? Create Designs and Sell Products
Some of the best free Photoshop alternatives include GIMP, Paint.NET, Photopea, Picsart, FireAlpaca, and Sumopaint.
Picsart is a great free Photoshop alternative if you’re looking for an online option for quick edits. The application gives powerful tools on a mobile device and responds to the needs of beginner and advanced users alike. Also, Picsart lets you edit images quickly and publish them on social networks.
GIMP delivers a consistent amount of professional resources and is considered by many as the best free alternative to Photoshop. GIMP requires less RAM and hard disk space, but Photoshop still has an edge with AI-powered filters, a wider variety of professional tools, and a generally more streamlined user interface.
Both GIMP and Photoshop offer advanced tools, demanding a steep learning curve. In terms of interface, Photoshop may be considered slightly more accessible to navigate due to its popularity and streamlined interface.
Adobe Photoshop’s subscription costs are justified for some professionals who use other brand products like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Cloud and have middle to large-size companies behind them.
Individual entrepreneurs, artists, and hobbyists who require fewer features may prefer a free Photoshop alternative.
The free and freemium options we listed for you can cover the graphic design needs of most users without breaking the bank.
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