Are you looking for the best Photoshop alternatives?
Perhaps you are put off by the steep learning curve of Photoshop. Or perhaps you can’t afford a monthly subscription for a photo editing software.
No matter the reason, we want to assure you that there are great alternatives to PhotoShop out there.
That is why we are presenting the best Photoshop alternatives. We hope this post helps those that can’t or won’t get into Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription software.
Why Photoshop Alternatives?
Photoshop is a highly specialized, complex piece of software. That is why it is the industry standard for nothing! However, that same complexity is also the reason why Photoshop isn’t the right choice for everybody.
If you are looking to avoid a monthly subscription fee, we have also included both one-time cost and free photoshop alternatives in this list.
So, what are the best Photoshop alternatives? Let’s have a look:
1. Lightroom Classic
Lightroom provides an easy solution for photographers looking to manage, edit, and publish their photos. For example, editing tones and colors are easy thanks to advanced controls in the Edit module. Even local adjustments or retouches are very easy to apply. Plus, you can also use readily available Lightroom Presets to save time.
Entire batches can be sorted through, selected, edited, and exported with just a few clicks. You can also post to some social media sites (Facebook, Flickr, Blurb, and Behance) directly from Lightroom. Photoshop and Lightroom go together in Adobe’s Photography subscription plan. However, most photographers will find themselves skipping Photoshop a lot, once you get into Lightroom!
Price: available with the Adobe CC Photography Plan – starting from 9.99$/month Platform: Windows and Mac
2. Affinity Photo
Serif’s Affinity Photo is the only true commercial alternative to Photoshop in terms of concept, functions, and interface. Its lightweight yet powerful tools make it the best option for someone not looking to get into the Adobe subscription system, but still need to work at the highest level. Further more, Serif has a YouTube channel with many tutorials, with Affinity specialist James Ritson, to help new users get started with their software. Affinity Photo is also VERY affordable, and users can buy a lifetime license, rather than subscribe to a monthly package. Pretty cool!
Price: 49.99$ lifetime license! Platform: Windows, Mac, and iOS
GIMP is already a staple for all Linux users. Born as an open-source project in 1996, GIMP still stands as the only desktop-based, comprehensive, free Photoshop alternative. Its functions and interface provide a similar experience, despite some limitations (like the lack of native support for AdobeRGB or similar wide color spaces). These may be downsides for working professionals – but GIMP is perfect for beginners or amateurs. Furthermore, GIMP is due for a major upgrade/release (version 3.0) in 2019 (announcement)
Price: Free/Open Source Platform: Windows, Mac, and Linux
Paint.NET has been around for such a long time but the program doesn’t advance any great pretenses, other than being simple, intuitive, and performing.
Born as a replacement for Microsoft Paint on Windows, it has a very similar interface, while adding some more advanced tools (like curve tools, and advanced text tools), and creative filters and effects. It also features layers, and unlimited history to undo edits. Not for the pros, maybe, but worth a shot if you only want to do simple edits to your photos.
Price: Free Platform: Windows
5. Pixelmator Pro
Pixelmator Pro is a versatile tool for those who heavily feature photography in their graphic design, rather than just being a photo-editing app. Making full use of macOS’s Metal 2 graphics API, it has an array of functions for non-destructive, layered edits. For example, you can reposition and transform images and text without losing quality. It also allows users to work on multiple RAW images in a single document as layers. Also, machine-learning powered tools allow for exceptionally smart automatic edits. All of this in a beautiful, sleek interface that feels very Mac.
Price: 39.99$ Platform: Mac
6. Corel Photo-Paint 2019
Photo-Paint is the bundled photo-editing app for the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2019. It is directly integrated with CorelDRAW. So if you need to edit images before you add them to your CorelDRAW artwork, this is the photo editor to use. Photo-Paint also features an asset manager, and has all the retouching, masking, and compositing tools one expects from a pro-level software; it also features a non-destructive RAW editor and can create HDR images.
Price: 635$ for the whole CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2019 Platform: Windows and Mac
7. Pixlr X
Pixlr has a long history as the most popular web-based, somewhat serious image editor. For example, their Flash-based app has been a staple for those looking to do basic photo editing and graphic designs without installing anything on their computers. Recently, Pixlr has been updated to HTML5 and renamed Pixlr X. A paid Pro version is also available. Featuring smart masking tools and layered workflows, Pixlr X is an excellent choice for enthusiasts that still want good results, from any browser!
Price: Free (5$/month for the Pro version) Platform: Web
Photopea is another web-based image editor which from the get-go looks kinda like a Photoshop clone; it has a very similar selection of basic tools and also supports complex files like Adobe .PSD or GIMP .XCF project files. Photopea runs entirely locally – once the site loads, you could go offline, and it’ll still work.
Also, unlike Pixlr, it supports RAW files from major manufacturers, thus more appealing to photographers who shoot in RAW format. The tool is free, but relies on ads for revenue – or you could pay 20$ to stop ads from showing for 3 months.
Price: Free (with ads) Platform: Web
9. Luminar 3
Luminar 3 has an interface that more closely resembles Lightroom’s. Still, it’s often mentioned amongst Photoshop alternatives for its AI-powered tools, allowing for precise adjustments to color and contrast, but also for pretty accurate automatic object removal, and retouching. Those interested in using Luminar can purchase a lifetime license for 69 USD.
Skylum is running a promotion which gives users the option to buy Luminar 3 and a set of custom presets – and then be upgraded to Luminar 4 at no extra cost when it comes out this coming Fall (2019).
Price: 69 USD single lifetime license Platform: Windows and Mac
10. Adobe Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Elements is Photoshop’s baby brother. It features a lot of the same technology, presented in a more basic, beginner-friendly manner. For example, the Quick Edit and Guided Edit interfaces allow even non-professionals to take control easily, and apply creative filters, or create layouts and graphics.
Moreover, the latest versions of the program include some automated functions powered by Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s Artifical Intelligence, that can create accurate selections of your subjects, or even open closed eyes in pictures! (check the video below)
Above all, Adobe Elements is not part of Adobe Creative Cloud – which means you can buy a perpetual, one-time license for this product!
Price: 99$ / 79$ for updates Platform: Windows and Mac
11. Adobe Spark (Bonus)
While doing research for this article, I came across Adobe Spark a lot. Spark is a free online tool by Adobe used to create captivating graphics for social media and publishing. For example, it lets users choose among a wide pool of free stock images or upload their own, to combine with graphics, texts, and decorations.
It has plenty of free templates (and some Premium ones for CC subscribers) for anything, from Instagram stories, to YouTube thumbnails, to business cards. In short, its automatic branding functions are great for those looking to up their self-branding game.
So, is it a Photoshop alternative? No.
Can it save you time that you would otherwise spend losing your mind on Photoshop? Yes, it can!
Price: Free (Premium features available for CC subscribers) Platform: Web, iOS, and Android
These are our favorite picks when it comes to Photoshop alternatives. We hope you found a photoshop alternative that meets your requirements and budget.
Let us know in the comments if you think we’ve missed anything, or what your experience has been with the Photoshop alternatives we’ve listed above.
Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re a better photographer.
But the fact is, the journey doesn’t stop there. There are more tips, tricks, and secrets--all of which will help you take gorgeous photos.
And if you want to learn all of these secrets, I recommend you sign up for the PhotoBlog newsletter. We send our subscribers all sorts of great stuff--including the tips, tricks, and secrets, straight from the experts. All to help you capture world-class photographs.
Did I mention that it’s all totally FREE?
(Oh, and we’ll send you a natural lighting cheat sheet--designed to help you use light in ways you’ve never considered.)
So to start taking stunning photos, enter your email:
Download FREE Photography Lighting Cheat Sheet
Subscribe and get a free downloadable photography lighting cheat sheet