Adobe Photoshop is a powerful raster graphics editor which supports layers, masks and several color models. In addition to the built-in tools and functions, there are plugins available to expand its capabilities. Photoshop is known by most as the industry standard in image editing, and its name has even become a verb in the modern English language.
So, why doesn’t every one use Photoshop? Well, all those features come with a larger pricetag that many casual users are comfortable with. So if you’re looking for image editing software without the price tag, here are 19 free alternatives to Photoshop.
By The GIMP Development Team (GIMP and GTK+ installers for Windows web site) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free image editing program available for several operating systems including Windows, OS X and Linux. GIMP is also open source software which means you can access the program and modify it to suit your needs as necessary. This has enabled the generation of many 3rd party plugins which expand the capabilities of this already powerful software. GIMP is probably the most well-known free alternative to Photoshop.
Paint.net is a free photo and image editing software for Windows. Paint.net support layers, its undo has unlimited history, and it comes with many special effects and editing tools. With a large user base, it’s easy to find helpful tutorials on their forums or a plugin to help you achieve your desired effect. (Paint.net was also included in this list of 15 powerful free computer programs.)
By CrazyTerabyte at en.wikipedia [GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
Gimpshop is modification of the open source software GIMP. The programmer who created Gimpshop was attempting to make the user interface feel more like that of Photoshop. It’s available for the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Its impressive features include layers, filters, masks, channels, levels and more. Their site includes a video tutorial library to help you master the effects and tools it offers.
is image editing shareware available for the Windows operating systems. The software offers brushes, masks, filters and more. There are also two premium paid versions which include layer capability, animated GIF formation and vector adjustments.
is an open source image editor available for Mac’s OS X. It’s based on GIMP technology but modified to allow for more user friendly image editing. Seashore includes layers, brushstrokes, and other tools. However, the software is still in development and users are likely to encounter bugs, according to their website.
is raster-based image-retouching software available for linux and Mac operating systems. According to the original about page, Cinepaint has been used by Sony Picture Imageworks (and other studios) in the creation of animated films. This GIMP-based software supports high fidelity image file formats and up to 32 bit color channels.
By Ramón Retamar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Inkscape is a free, open source, vector graphics program available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Inkscape is full of built in tools and functions with more available through user created add-ons. They boast a large community which can be found on their site forum and on several social media platforms.
9. Xara Xtreme
Xara Xtreme for Linux is a graphics editing program available for Linux. It is an open source, vector drawing program based on Xara Xtreme for Windows. There are tutorials and videos available on their site as well as a group forum.
By Tyson Tan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
is an open source, raster based program designed for illustrating, sketching and painting. It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Krita has layer support and includes transforming, brush and drawing assistant tools.
Chocoflop is an image editing program available for Mac. Although development of this software was discontinued it still runs on OS Leopard. The software supports layers, has several filters and tools and allows for non-destructive image editing.
Photo courtesy of Serif website
Photoplus by Serif is an easy and free photo editing software for Windows. It has the basic tools you’d need for cropping and retouching images, removing red-eye and restoring old photographs. The Photoplus starter edition is free. For extra features you can purchase the full program.
Fotor is free software that provides photo editing, filters, borders and batch processing. You can download the program for Windows or Mac, the app for iOS or Android or just use it online in your browser.
Pixlr is a photo editor which includes effects, borders, overlays, stickers, refining, editing and stylizing tools. (If you prefer to pay for the pro version you’d have access to even more tools). It’s available as a download for Windows or Mac, an app for iOS or Android or for use in your browser.
is an impressive photo editor full of tools, filters and capabilities (including layers) that you can use directly in your web browser. If you prefer to have a downloaded copy to work offline you can do that for a small fee.
is a free online photo editor which has tools, filters, borders, overlays and more. You can use Picmonkey for free or upgrade your account to remove ads and increase the number of filters and tools available. (The majority of images on this tech tips site were generated with the help of Picmonkey).
Canva is an online photo editor that includes built in design elements, text overlays, predesigned layouts and more. There are also stock images available (for a fee) to help you kickstart your design. For additional options, including the option to save working images in team folders, you’ll need to pay for the upgrade to Canva for work.
Pixenate is an online photo editor that includes basic picture editing tools and functions like redeye reduction, teeth whitening and brightness adjustments. There are also tools for writing and adding shapes on top of your image.
Ribbet is an online photo editor which gives you the ability to store your photos (and editing history) online. The stored editing history gives you more flexibility in making (and undoing) changes to your pictures. There are filters, overlays and stickers available to add to your picture. Or, create a collage from several of your photos and upload them directly to Facebook or Flickr.
Which is your favorite free alternative to Photoshop?
Featured photo credit: home-office1 / Steve Wilson via flickr.com