5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should Try

photoshopaltsmall   5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should TryWith digital photography largely taking over traditional film photography’s place, it has become more and more important to have an image editing software. The king of kings is, of course, Photoshop, but with a price tag of $699 for the full version, many started to wonder if there aren’t free options around that could do the same things Photoshop does. 

What program you need depends largely on what you will use it for. We’ve previously published a list of free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop which are under 2MB. Today, we’ll be looking at a couple more, very capable, great Photoshop alternatives.

Paint.NET

Paint.NET is a program rich in features, tutorials and with a supportive community to help most new users through their learning curve and issues. Paint.NET started development as an undergraduate college senior design project mentored by Microsoft which was meant to substitute Microsoft Paint, and is currently being maintained by some of the alumni that originally worked on it. It has a large number of buttons that are exactly like Photoshop and an equal number of Photoshop features, which makes it a very strong candidate as a substitute for those looking for a Photoshop like program. I dare say that most of what can be done in Photoshop can be duplicated using Paint.NET.

paintnetsmall   5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should Try

GIMP

GIMP is, without a doubt a very capable image editing software with many of the same features as Photoshop. And if you require a program that allows you to create several layers, manipulate individual parts of the picture, create filters and tools and work with a variety of formats, including most Photoshop native formats, such as PSD; then GIMP is the right program for you.

For those who have used Photoshop before, the interface will seem reasonably familiar, with many of the buttons having the same name and being in similar places on the interface. For those who have never used advanced image editing software before, GIMP has a very comprehensive list of tutorials, from beginner to advanced level which can be found at GIMP’s Documentation page. Or you could just take a look at these 5 Websites To Learn GIMP Online.

gimpsmall   5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should Try

PhotoScape

PhotoScape is built to be user-friendly, with an intuitive choice of projects to select from, which vary from image editing and GIF creation to a wizard to combine pictures together or take screenshots. It certainly does not have as many features as Photoshop does, but can do, with a single click or two, many of the same things it would take a Photoshop user several clicks to do.

photoScapesmall   5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should Try

VCW VicMan’s Photo Editor

VCW comes bundled with optional web album software, but even without it, the VCW can be a very handy tool for image editing. The program has an old interface and doesn’t look visually attractive, but the tools work well and allow you to do most of what you’d need from a simple photo editor, such as cropping, drawing tools, contrast and color adjustments, effects and filters. The program also comes with a video tutorial to help you master it all.

vcw small   5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should Try

Picnik – an online option

Picnik is a simple but helpful online photo editor which can help you with either basic adjustments such as sharpening and red eye or more advanced filters under the “create button”, which opens options for features such as text and color effects and many of the same filters you can find on Photoshop. It is not designed for layered editing or advanced manipulation of images, but it does a very good job with one click pre-set adjustments.

picniksmall   5 Free Alternatives to Photoshop You Should Try

As with most programs, there are probably more options than you imagine, and th examples above are just a sample of what is available online to substitute commercial software. Finding the program that can do what you want or need it to do can sometimes mean finding a program with simpler features, but that does those things well. On the other hand, if you want flexibility and control over all the aspects of your image editing, you can also find options above that will give you tools to fulfill all of your needs.

Do you use any of the free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop listed above? Have you compared any of them to Photoshop for particular tasks? Tell us your thoughts.

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28 Comments -

0 votes

Blogmines

Thanks for sharing this information.

0 votes

Ashutosh Mishra

Paint.NET has features that most people ever use, and it has a great interface, but it’s not an alternative to Photoshop. Not even close. Paint.NET isn’t meant to be an alternative to Photoshop – it is meant for all those people who’ll install Photoshop even though they hardly ever use more 1% of what it’s got.

Many Photoshop users find GIMP incredibly confusing and un-intuitive. Since I use Paint.NET and neither of these, I don’t have personal experience in this matter. GIMP 2.8 will supposedly have a more Photoshop-like interface with translucent windows and stuff.

Picnik is again not even CLOSE to Photoshop. It’s meant for light photo editing tasks, and is brilliant at that, but it’s not a Photoshop alternative. Some actual online alternatives are Sumo Paint, and Aviary’s image editor.

Same for PhotoScape.

I had never heard of VicMan before, and it actually looks all retro and powerful. :)

0 votes

Ashutosh Mishra

Paint.NET has features that most people ever use, and it has a great interface, but it’s not an alternative to Photoshop. Not even close. Paint.NET isn’t meant to be an alternative to Photoshop – it is meant for all those people who’ll install Photoshop even though they hardly ever use more 1% of what it’s got.

Many Photoshop users find GIMP incredibly confusing and un-intuitive. Since I use Paint.NET and neither of these, I don’t have personal experience in this matter. GIMP 2.8 will supposedly have a more Photoshop-like interface with translucent windows and stuff.

Picnik is again not even CLOSE to Photoshop. It’s meant for light photo editing tasks, and is brilliant at that, but it’s not a Photoshop alternative. Some actual online alternatives are Sumo Paint, and Aviary’s image editor.

Same for PhotoScape.

I had never heard of VicMan before, and it actually looks all retro and powerful. :)

0 votes

Dead End

I’m not sure if Gimpshop has been updated, but Gimpshop is a hack of Gimp to make the layout of Gimp more like Photoshop. It might be of some use until the new version of GIMP comes out.

0 votes

Anthony Russo

Sumo Paint is awesome at http://www.sumopaint.com

Anthony Russo
http://www.anthonyrussoblog.com/Anthony
Skype: anth.russo
Twitter: @AnthonyRusso

0 votes

MADinMelbourne

I. LOVE. SUMO.

0 votes

WendyElf

Just been playing with Sumo Paint, amazed I have not come across it before!!! Really good fun – love it. Ta for sharing…. :)

0 votes

Anthony Russo

Sumo Paint is awesome at http://www.sumopaint.com

Anthony Russo
http://www.anthonyrussoblog.co
Skype: anth.russo
Twitter: @AnthonyRusso

0 votes

Anonymous

Right, Gimpshop website claims that many photoshop tutorials can be followed directly in gimpshop

0 votes

Sheeblasta

sumopaint.com

0 votes

Sheeblasta

0 votes

Couponqueenofcorning

I actually prefer to use GIMP over Photoshop. I used Paint.Net before finding GIMP and still use it occassionally when I need to do something simple without layers.

0 votes

Crazy1intx

I use a free version of program called faststone. Simple to use. For light editing, it works great.

0 votes

Psheppard

Personally, I like using Irfanview…it does exactly what I need to do regarding photographs…cut/pasted graphics…etc! And it’s free! Love it
Patricia in Durham

0 votes

Psheppard

Personally, I like using Irfanview…it does exactly what I need to do regarding photographs…cut/pasted graphics…etc! And it’s free! Love it
Patricia in Durham

0 votes

Mavrick

My money is on Paint Shop Pro which I have been using for some 15 years. It is faster, simpler than Photoshop, a fraction of the price and can even use Photoshop plugins. It can work on almost any photo file and includes ‘batch’ processing along with user defined tasks if you feel so inclined.
Personally I prefer version 8 but that is not always happy with Vista and maybe 7

0 votes

Mavrick

My money is on Paint Shop Pro which I have been using for some 15 years. It is faster, simpler than Photoshop, a fraction of the price and can even use Photoshop plugins. It can work on almost any photo file and includes ‘batch’ processing along with user defined tasks if you feel so inclined.
Personally I prefer version 8 but that is not always happy with Vista and maybe 7

0 votes

Hermitbiker

…. a very good short list…. I too bawk at the $$ for the full edition of Photoshop…. and it really isn’t that easy to use either !! Free substitutes sound great to me !! :)

0 votes

Someone Here

The big problem I found with Paint.NET is that it cannot feather a selection. This makes it useless for many photo editing tasks, and means it cannot come close to a Photoshop replacement.

If it ever gets a Feather tool, then I may start recommending it to people.

0 votes

Someone Here

The big problem I found with Paint.NET is that it cannot feather a selection. This makes it useless for many photo editing tasks, and means it cannot come close to a Photoshop replacement.

If it ever gets a Feather tool, then I may start recommending it to people.

0 votes

Oron Joffe

A bit dissapointed int he article. Not all paint programs/photo editors are alternatives to Photoshop. Of the ones mentioned, the GIMP and /possibly/ Paint.NET could be considered to be in the same realm at all.
However, if PhotoScape is in the list (and I’m not denigrating it, it’s a great program and I use it) then you /must/ mention the Faststone products, IrfanView, which has a simple but effective paint module, and XNView.

To those who mentioned SUMO, thank you – looks very interesting!

0 votes

Oron Joffe

A bit dissapointed int he article. Not all paint programs/photo editors are alternatives to Photoshop. Of the ones mentioned, the GIMP and /possibly/ Paint.NET could be considered to be in the same realm at all.
However, if PhotoScape is in the list (and I’m not denigrating it, it’s a great program and I use it) then you /must/ mention the Faststone products, IrfanView, which has a simple but effective paint module, and XNView.

To those who mentioned SUMO, thank you – looks very interesting!

0 votes

Taty

Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. Will check some of them out.

0 votes

timmyjohnboy

Then there is Photoshop.com as an alternative.

To those complaining because these options are not Photoshop “alternatives”, these free programs fill the niche where someone doesn’t have the needs associated with paying a steep price for a professional program, but could use more options than just MS Paint.

Personally I’ve always found Photoshop annoying. I’m sure that part of the reason comes from me not having a need for what it offers. In fact, much of what I need is more easily done with Fireworks (now Adobe but I still use 8). Currently learning the GIMP and trying Paint.NET, both good programs, IMO.

0 votes

timmyjohnboy

Then there is Photoshop.com as an alternative.

To those complaining because these options are not Photoshop “alternatives”, these free programs fill the niche where someone doesn’t have the needs associated with paying a steep price for a professional program, but could use more options than just MS Paint.

Personally I’ve always found Photoshop annoying. I’m sure that part of the reason comes from me not having a need for what it offers. In fact, much of what I need is more easily done with Fireworks (now Adobe but I still use 8). Currently learning the GIMP and trying Paint.NET, both good programs, IMO.

0 votes

artyfax

I have been using Serif Photoplus for a while now. There is a free download version which has many of the features offered by photoshop, including layers, etc. It is an excellent program for photo-retouching or creating multi-layered collages. Anyone new to photomanipulation might like to consider trying it as an alternative to the expensive software availble

0 votes

Thegrinningdoggy

If you like Sumo- you may also be interested in checking out http://www.aviary.com which connected to a very amazing site called http://www.worth100.com.

I could spend hours looking at the submissions on Worth100. And Aviary is webware worth checking out for doing things as seen on SUMO- and plus a whole lot more. Both are free to join!

0 votes

Thegrinningdoggy

If you like Sumo- you may also be interested in checking out http://www.aviary.com which connected to a very amazing site called http://www.worth100.com.

I could spend hours looking at the submissions on Worth100. And Aviary is webware worth checking out for doing things as seen on SUMO- and plus a whole lot more. Both are free to join!