Here is my list of alternatives to Adobe’s Photoshop and Creative Cloud subscriptions. There are times when forking out excessive amounts for Adobe’s industry standard software just doesn’t make sense. Especially if your total time spent in these graphic editor’s is very minimal.
Luckily, there are a handful of different alternatives to Photoshop that you can use. Some are completely free, whilst others are a lot cheaper than Photoshop. Make sure to to take note of which operating system the software can run on when planning whether or not you should use them.
Probably one of the most longstanding graphic editors available. GIMP is completely free, open source and is actively maintained by developers. It comes with lots of different plugins too, so if you’re looking for some photoshop specific action, you will probably find it.
Since it’s free, you can download it from their website right away. It has support for all the major OS’s, including Windows, Mac and Linux. https://www.gimp.org/
Its user interface is very similar to Photoshop and there are even plugins that can be added to make GIMP work exactly like Photoshop. Not bad for a free piece of software.
They recently did their 2016 year in review, which lists some of the most recent features they have been working on for their software. Expect more to come for years and years!
#2 Paint Tool Sai
SAI isn’t your average photo editor. I had experience with this software back when I was commissioning artists for digital art. And that’s where this program excels at. It’s developed by systemax, a Japanese company and has a 31 day free trial before you can purchase it.
It is supported only for Windows operating system, so those on Mac or Linux will have to pass on this one. It also doesn’t support use in Virtual machines, but I haven’t tested this to see if it’s the case.
Originally developed for Microsoft’s Operating system, PAINT.net is now a breakway software project that can be downloaded for free from http://www.getpaint.net/download.html . It’s only supported by Windows currently and was lasted updated in December 2016.
It also has a whole host of plugins to help extend the functionality of the software. Most of them (if not all) are free to download from their active communtiy forum, where you can also get useful information on how to install and use the software.
You can get information on Paint.NET’s updates from their blog site: https://blog.getpaint.net/
#4 Photoshop Elements
The lightweight version of Photoshop is Photoshop Elements. It costs considerably less than CS6 (around $99.99) and doesn’t come with half the bloat that you get with CS6. It is supported by both Windows and Mac and you’ll also get the Adobe quality support.
It seems each year Adobe brings out a new version of Photoshop Elements. The latest version, Photoshop Elements 15 contains a whole host of new features not in the previous versions.
On their buying guide, you can view Adobe’s Elements feature comparison between the different versions.
Pixelmator is a mac-exclusive graphics editor that you can download from the App Store. It costs $33.00 but it also comes with a 30 day free trial. It has a beautiful user interface, probably the best I’ve seen in a graphics editor.
Recently, Pixelmator was featured in Apple’s own Macbook Pro release event. It has had quite a few updates that add plenty of new features. At $33, it’s a steal. They have support for the new Apple Touchbar (as if you cared) and you can read about their updates on their blog: http://www.pixelmator.com/blog/
It also has apps across the iOS platform, including iPhone so you can edit images on the go.
#6 Paintshop Pro
Paintshop Pro was one of the first graphic’s editors that I had ever used; I remember fondly using the “stich” feature creating graphic banners for my nerdy websites. Since those days, Paintshop Pro has developed into a quite different being.
It’s produced by Corel, is supported only for Windows operating system and costs around $100. There is a 30 day free trial too, so you can test this software to see if it holds up as your own graphics editor.
They do release new versions often, where you’ll have to pay an upgrade fee to get the latest updates. But this shouldn’t matter if you’re only using the software for minimal graphic work.
Krita was recommended to me by a friend and it boasts of being made for artists who want affordable graphics software. This software can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.
The software is also free to use, open source and actively maintained. It’s support for digital art is it’s main priority, but it can work well as a graphic’s editor too.
You can find plenty of helpful information on their forums too, including tutorials and news about upcoming updates.
Their latest version is Acorn 5, last updated in February 2017 so it is kept up to date with new features all the time. There is a community forum for discussion and it’s own support system to help customers. It can be downloaded directly from the AppStore for around $30.