Photoshop is a staple of modern graphic design, an industry standard for over 30 years. It’s also incredibly expensive: No longer available as a stand-alone program, you’ll pay Adobe a minimum of $ 120 each year to use it as part of a Creative Cloud membership. That’s a lot of paste to lay down, especially if you’re only using it for occasional photo editing.
There are inexpensive alternatives to Photoshop, such as Photoshop Elements or Adobe’s Affinity Photo. But if you’re looking to get the job done without spending a dime, you have some surprising options. For even more free alternatives to popular software, be sure to check out our list of the best free software for your PC.
A free web-based Photoshop clone: ââPhotopea
Photopea is a web-based editor, available in any browser. The big draw here is that in addition to being free, its interface is based directly on Photoshop tools and menus. Adobe software veterans who aren’t looking to learn an entirely new system are particularly well served here.
Being web-based, Photopea cannot take advantage of powerful hardware, and there are a few keyboard shortcuts that need to be relearned for long-time Photoshop users. But all things considered, it’s a remarkably effective alternative. Free users have access to all of the program’s tools, but a $ 3 per month plan opens up a longer history and bans ads.
Use Photopea online here
A complex but powerful alternative: GIMP
A long-time favorite with Linux users, the GIMP Image Editor is now available on all platforms. While its interface isn’t exactly beginner-friendly, especially if you’re used to other programs, it’s at least as powerful as Photoshop for standard image editing tasks.
GIMP is the abbreviation for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GNU is the abbreviation for “GNU is not Unix”. Unix is ââ- you know what, we’re distracted. Just be aware that GIMP is at least as flexible as Photoshop in terms of capacity (albeit without some of Creative Cloud’s meteoric additions), as long as you’re willing to dive into a wiki or two.
Download GIMP here
For quick and easy edits: Paint.NET
This Windows first editing program has been in continuous development for almost two decades. As the name suggests, this is a more powerful alternative to the built-in Paint tool that remains an essential part of the operating system. But don’t be fooled by the name: Paint.NET is much closer to Photoshop than Paint in terms of capacity.
While it lacks some of Adobe’s most advanced graphic design tools, Paint.NET can handle more or less any basic editing task, with full support for layers, history actions and even complex plugins. Just be prepared for a period of adaptation for its interface, which favors floating menus over docked tools.
Download Paint.NET here
For the digital photographer: Photoscape X
Photoscape X is definitely more of a photo editor than an image editor, with an emphasis on easy-to-use tools to quickly enhance photos and add social media-approved extras. This is especially useful if you are editing portraits and other people-centered photographs.
Even so, it includes some surprising tools like a batch editor and a GIF maker. Photoscape X is a great choice for someone who wants something like Photoshop, but doesn’t have years of experience to unlearn. The standard version is free, while the pro version with better text handling and more powerful filters costs a reasonable $ 40.
Download Photoscape X here
For digital artist: Krita
Unlike Photoscape, Krita is for users who need a tool for direct artistic creation: digital drawing, painting, inking, etc. Its interface and tools are primarily artist-friendly, and its frame-based image editing capabilities aren’t that impressive.
Krita’s layout should be familiar to Photoshop users, and its wide array of brush settings and vector tools should allow flexibility for artists who like to mix media. It even has some basic 2D animation tools. The publishing program itself is free, with community development supported by add-ons and tutorials available in its online store.
Download Kira here
Michael is a former graphic designer who has been building and tweaking desktops for longer than he wants to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.