The Top 5 Free Photoshop Alternatives
Are you looking for the best free Photoshop alternatives? What about premium ones? Then, you’ll want to scour this article for my recommendations.
I started using Photoshop back in 1991, and we had zero alternatives! Fast forward to today, and your options for alternatives to Adobe Photoshop are mind-numbing!
No worries, though. Read on to discover the best Photoshop alternatives based on my 30 years of experience.
1. Photopea: The best alternative to Photoshop on the go
Don’t have a laptop or desktop? Or need to complete some projects while traveling? Then, you may want to consider PhotoPea. PhotoPea is a browser-based app that is “identical” to Photoshop! Oh, and it’s 100% free.
PhotoPea interface in Chrome browser. Photo by: Chris Parker
When I say “identical,” the interface will look familiar…it’s the same. But, it does not have all the same tools and advanced features as Photoshop.
Editing photos and designing in PhotoPea
Here’s a list of the essential tools you’ll need as a graphic designer and/or photographer that come with PhotoPea:
- Layer Styles
- Layer Masks
- Smart Objects
- Ability to open .PSD files
- Large selection of Filters
- Clone, Heal, and Patch tools for retouching
- Text Layers
- And more
How to get PhotoPea
Since Photopea is browser-based, you can just use it. Photopea works best with the Chrome browser. I’ve tried other browsers, like Safari, Firefox, and Explorer. They work but don’t seem to be as compatible as Chrome.
Go to Photopea.com to access this free Photoshop alternative.
Last Updated November 2022
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2. PicMonkey: A browser-based alternative to Photoshop
Another browser-based alternative to Photoshop is PicMonkey. PickMonkey comes with a suite of features that will make all your projects a breeze.
PicMonkey interface. All images copyright by: Shutterstock.
Whether it’s photo editing software or design tools you need, you can get it done with PicMonkey. And it’s free to use on your smartphone. A premium or paid version is available for your desktop computer.
Editing photos in PicMonkey
The editing tools are surprisingly easy to use. They are powerful enough to create whatever you envision. The most popular photo effects are available too. You can:
- Adjust colors
- Fix exposure
- Add an Orton effect
- Convert color images to B&W
- And more
Oh, and it has an easy-to-use background eraser that will remove your background in one click! So PicMonkey is perfect for beginners and more advanced users.
Designing in PicMonkey
Need professional results? That’s what you’ll get with PicMonkey’s design tools. It includes an infinite supply of graphics, fonts, and textures.
And since PicMonkey is a division of Shutterstock, you have easy access to millions of photos. Plus, pre-made graphics! Download them into PicMonkey and finish your design projects in no time!
One of the cool things about PicMonkey is using its pre-made templates. Especially for a variety of Social media platforms. Easily create Facebook covers, Youtube cover art, Instagram stories, and more.
Plus, you can use their Smart Resize tool to reformat images for many sizes with a single click.
How to get PicMonkey
3. Canva: An alternative to Photoshop for everyone
Canva is an online design and publishing tool with a lofty mission. Their goal is to “empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere!”
This mission is not too far-fetched when discovering how easy Canva is to use. But, first, let’s check some features.
Editing photos in Canva
Edit your photos with ease with Canvas’s built-in photo editor. Here are some features for editing your photos:
- Depth of Field: Blur the background with a click.
- Background Remover: Remove the background with a single click!
- Stylize: Enhance your images by adding textures, colorizing, and more.
- Frames: Add vintage film frames to your photos.
- Crop: Fix the composition and/or adjust for specific print sizes.
- Graphics: Add graphics to your images.
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Designing in Canva
Have a specific project you need to design? Well, Canva has you covered with a variety of pre-made templates to get you started…
- Instagram Posts
- Facebook Posts
- And much more!
How to get Canva
Accessing Canva, you’ll see they’ve created a plan for everyone based on their mission statement! So here are your five choices:
- Free: For individuals and small teams. This plan allows you to create and download designs for any project.
- Pro: For individuals and small groups that need more advanced editing tools and content.
- Enterprise: For large businesses with lots of potential users.
- Education: Perfect for classrooms.
- Nonprofits: Canva is 100% free for registered nonprofits.
4. Affinity: The number one premium alternative to Photoshop
Are you tired of paying monthly for Photoshop and looking for a one-and-done payment? Are you looking for the best premium alternative to Photoshop? Then, you may want to consider Affinity.
Affinity software comes in three flavors (versions), and you’ll need a separate license. Which one you choose depends on your needs. Here they are:
We’ll skip Affinity Publisher since it’s more like Adobe InDesign.
Editing photos in Affinity
If you are looking to edit photos, Affinity Photo is for you. As you would expect, Affinity Photo includes all the essential photo editing tools:
- Exposure Adjustments
- Tone Curve
- Lens Correction
- Tonal Adjustments
- And more
Plus, it includes a variety of advanced tools I’d say are better than Photoshop:
- Live Filters
- Adjustment Library
- Layer Masks
- Vector + Text Tools
- Fluid Brush Tools
- Supports Apple Pencil
- Advanced Selection Tools
- Focus Merge
- And more
Designing in Affinity
As a designer, you will want Affinity Designer. Switching from Photoshop to Affinity Designer is a breeze. Especially when you realize the workspace layout is almost identical.
This makes it easy to transition to when you know where to find the tools, layers, and other options. As a result, using Affinity Designer has been what I’d call the “best user experience in the industry.”
What I like about A.D. over Photoshop is its fast and responsive underbelly. Affinity Designer excels with the latest computer hardware. Check this out:
- Pan & Zooms at 60 fps
- Real-time blend mode previews
- Live gradients, effects, and adjustments
- Unlimited artboards
- And more!
What about other features? No worries. A.D. includes everything you need to create mind-blowing designs and artwork:
- Floating Point Accuracy: Includes up to 1,000,000% zoom!
- Advanced Grids & Guides: Unlimited options for setting up custom grids and guides
- Contour Tool: Add a contour to any object
- Vector Tools: 100% accurate geometry. Photoshop doesn’t have this!
- Color Control: Use RGB or LAB color spaces with 32 bits per channel.
How to get Affinity Apps
For the price of a single license, you get all the features of an Affinity app. So head to the Affinity website to start using it over Photoshop.
5. GIMP: The number one free alternative to Photoshop
My number one FREE recommendation over Photoshop is GIMP. GIMP stands for gnu image manipulation program. It’s a free, open-source app used for photo manipulation and image editing, and it’s available for PC, MAC, and Linux users!
Editing app: GIMP interface. Photo by: Chris Parker
Editing photos in GIMP
Don’t let the term “freeware” fool you. GIMP is a powerful photo editing app with a lot of the same features and tools as Photoshop. This includes tools like;
- Retouching tools: Heal & Clone, which are identical to Photoshops
- Selection tools: Includes a lot of similar tools that are available in Photoshop too:
- Laso, Marquee, Magic Wand, and more (keep in mind the selection tools in GIMP come with a different name but have the same function)
- Filters: For adding special effects like Gaussian Blur, Unsharp Mask, and more
- Layers + Layer Masks: Essential for any editing app
- Blending Modes: More creative options than Photoshop!
Designing in GIMP
GIMP has fewer design tools than Photoshop. One of the most asked questions I get from students is, “Where is the shape tool?” Well, GIMP doesn’t have one.
Don’t let this dissuade you from using GIMP for design projects. In fact, I have several courses teaching how to use GIMP for your graphic design projects.
How to get GIMP
Among the Photoshop alternatives listed in this article, GIMP is my number one recommendation. But, it’s not just me. Thousands of students and Youtuber’s agree.
Downloading and installing GIMP is easy. Follow this link, and Wilber (the GIMP mascot) will determine your operating system. Then, you’ll get a download link via a button. Finally, open the package and install it like any other software.
Lightroom, Illustrator, and more: Photoshop alternatives from Adobe
What if you already have Photoshop and are looking for tools to do more within Adobe? You may want to explore more of Adobe’s tools with Creative Cloud. For editing photos, you can explore Lightroom vs Photoshop. And for designing, you can check out Illustrator vs. Photoshop. These articles can help you figure out which Adobe product is right for you and how to get started with it.
Once you’ve picked the product for you, choose a tutorial and get started!