When it comes to professional image editing, Photoshop stands tall as the leading industry standard. However, the software comes at a cost that might not be affordable for some users, especially if they have to pay a monthly subscription. Thankfully, there are several other powerful photo editing alternatives that anyone can use to achieve similar image editing feat as Photoshop. And best of all, they are free!
Whatever your level of expertise – beginner, intermediate, or advanced user – you will find one or more free graphic designing, image editing, or digital arts program that works well for you.
Paid photo editing programs, such as Photoshop, may have outstanding features, but so do other free image editing apps. Interestingly, you can be a complete novice in the world of photo editing and still create a simple but impressive digital masterpiece with some of these programs. Without further ado, let us take a quick look at 5 free best Photoshop alternatives in the market.
It is not surprising that Krita sits at the top of our list of free best Photoshop alternative. It was rated as the #1 best free painting software by TechRadar for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020). Krita was designed to help anyone with a flair for digital art or painting to have access to affordable art tools. The software is completely free to download and use on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Source: Krita Software
If you are a texture artist, digital illustrator, digital artist, or you are in the VFX industry, then this completely free program will be an indispensable tool in your arsenal. While the program will work for any type of illustration and drawing, it is most suitable for manga or comics.
Krita offers an easy-to-use intuitive graphic interface that lets you create shortcuts, as well as customize and save your workspace. This free software is packed with lots of great features, such as perspective tools, halftone filters, panel templates, and the usual fills, pens, brushes, and other traditional editing tools. Krita has more than 100 beautiful brushes that are completely customizable. But more interestingly is the fact that you can save your custom-made brushes for future use.
Creating your canvas and adding layers to it is quick and easy in Krita. Here’s one cool feature about Krita that make it one of the best Photoshop alternative. Instead of navigating through several traditional menus and settings as it the norm with most photo editing apps, all you have to do is right-click your canvas, and a selection wheel pops up from where you can choose any tool to work with.
Also, you don’t have to worry about creating perfect lines and smooth shapes. This free Photoshop alternative allows you to add stabilizers to your brush to help you draw smooth shapes and straight lines.
With Krita, adding text to your canvas, as well as word bubbles, is easy. Krita’s vector library lets you choose from several word bubbles and customize their anchor points to suit your purpose. You can also drag and drop photos into your canvas and use Krita’s powerful editing tools to manipulate your images.
Since Krita was developed by artists, the program is loaded with several thoughtful shortcuts that make users create stunning digital illustrations and paintings easily.
2. Medibang Paint
Medibang Paint is a drawing application with lots of powerful features for creating manga or comics. It does perform some pretty amazing tasks for a free app! Medibang Paint is accessible on Windows and Mac. You can also use it on an iPad, iPhone, as well as android devices. It is lightweight, so it doesn’t take much space on your computer or other devices.
Source: Medibang Paint Software
Intermediate and advanced users will find it easier to use this paint app than beginners. Like Kira, many digital illustrators and artists will find Medibang Paint highly valuable. Making comic books has never been easier! You will feel at home with this free drawing tool if you are used to Photoshop.
Although Medibang Paint doesn’t have as many image editing features as Photoshop, it still qualifies as one of the best Photoshop alternatives because of its superb tools that make digital drawing convenient. Some of these tools include comic paper size templates (for selecting different paper sizes), comic panel creation tools, among others. You also have access to lots of beautiful brushes that you can customize, and if you don’t find one that suits you, just download some. But if you’re feeling confident, you can create your own new brush!
Medibang Paint has lots of pre-made backgrounds, fonts, and other resources that make it stand shoulder to shoulder with other comic creation apps.
Signing up for a free Medibang Paint account gives you access to its secured cloud services. You can share your creation with others, create group projects, as well as access tons of materials and fonts from the cloud. It also allows you to sync your color pallets, brushes, and other settings so that they are accessible from your other devices.
The cloud service saves you the headache of worrying about your hard drive space or needing to carry a USB because your work is saved online. All you need is an internet connection, and you can access your comics and arts on any supported device.
If you are looking for a free, customizable, image-manipulation program that can give Photoshop a run for its money, GIMP might be just the right tool for you. GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP, for short, is considered the best Photoshop alternative by many users.
It is an open-source program, which means any user with programming knowledge can adjust the codes to suit their purpose. But even if you are not tech-savvy enough to tweak program codes, GIMP lets you add user-created plug-ins to expand its features. That’s another way of saying GIMP users are not limited to the features that come with the photo editing app.
Source: GIMP Software
Although you’ll need to download and install it before use since it is not an online photo editing tool, GIMP, like Medibang Paint, is lightweight – meaning it takes less space on your computer. Also, it can be used across platforms, and it supports Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, and Sun OpenSolaris.
GIMP is best for photo editing or manipulation. It is not the most suitable tool for painting. Compared to some of the other free best Photoshop alternatives listed here, GIMP requires some level of computer skills to use, and its interface is not as user-friendly as the other programs. In other words, beginners may find it a bit daunting to get into image editing with GIMP. But that is not to say it is less powerful than other photo editing programs.
GIMP is originally designed as an image manipulation tool – meaning it is loaded with powerful photo editing tools such as selection tools, paint tools, transform tools, which are all easy and quick to use. With its powerful photo retouching tools (FX-Foundry, Filters, clone, and so on), you can alter or transform just about everything in a photo.
Apart from being able to start new painting or designs, you can use pencils and brushes to draw and paint over pictures and create awesome finishes. And although GIMP is not the perfect animation software, it can deliver some pretty remarkable animation results too.
4. PhotoScape X
PhotoScape X is an easy-to-use photo editor that can easily pass as one of the best Photoshop alternatives. It is compatible with Windows 10 and Mac. If you are just starting with photo editing, this could be the tool for you. It is fun to use and intuitive too. Although you can upgrade to the Pro version, the free version contains a wide range of impressive features that can accomplish powerful photo edits.
Source: PhotoScape X Software
PhotoScape X can accomplish a lot more than merely retouching photos (as is obtainable with traditional image editors). It comes with a built-in screen capture tool, an image viewer, and the ability to edit images in batch. It is pretty easy to transform any image with the software’s powerful effects and many filters. You can also use this app to create an impressive animated GIF!
With PhotoScape X, you can upload several photos and piece them together to form a collage. You can choose from a list of frames and stickers to add to your photo. You also have several templates to pick from just in case you want to print your photos. If you prefer to create slideshows, this free yet powerful, fun photo editing tool works well in that aspect too.
But perhaps what most people find attractive about this simple photo editing program is its fun editing toolkit. Even though the program seems to target newbies to the image editing world, it has an abundance of surprisingly powerful features that are quite self-explanatory.
The Editor tab in PhotoScape X is loaded with many editing tools, including the traditional crop, resize, rotate, flip, and straighten tools. You can also find special effects such as Bloom, Dehaze, and Miniature, among others. With so many tools and options to choose from, editing photos has never been easier.
Even if you do not have a specific outcome in mind, tinkering around with the tools (as most beginners do) can result in something impressive. Upload some of your vacation photos and make them look brilliant with this free tool.
Last on our list of best Photoshop alternative is Pixlr. It is an online photo editing program that comes in two versions. First is the Pixlr E (editor), which is the traditional and more advanced photo editor, and secondly, there’s the Pixlr X (express), which is the newer and more playful version.
Source: PIXLR Editor
The program does not have the robust features of Photoshop or some of the other photo editors, but it has great tools that work just as well. Pixlr is convenient, user-friendly, and intuitive, which is why it is most suitable for beginners and intermediate level users. If you need to do some quick photo editing online (without having to download and install any software), you can visit the Pixlr website, load your photos, and edit as much as you like.
Source: PIXLR Editor
Once you’re on the Pixlr site, select an image from a URL or from your computer to start editing immediately. The program offers you some great templates to choose from and work with. Also, it comes with some simple photo editing tools that can be used to resize and crop images. Additionally, Pixlr has some powerful and advanced cutting tools, such as drag and magic, lasso, shape, and cloning.
For more dramatic effects, Pixlr comes with a fairly broad collection of filters that are grouped in categories such as Instage, Retro, and Colors. There’s also the healing brush tool for advanced editing. You can create layers from the layers panel to help you add, reorder, and delete text, drawings, and images. All these combine to make photo editing fast and easy in Pixlr.
Pixlr is compatible with most browsers and across different platforms, including mobile devices. You’ll need a Flash Player to run the program, though. This tool speeds up your online photo editing tasks, which is why it ranks among the best Photoshop alternative.
That concludes our list of 5 free best Photoshop alternatives. Some of these free photo editing programs (such as Pixlr and PhotoScape X) also have paid versions that unlock more powerful features. However, the free options also pack quite a punch when it comes to photo editing and manipulation. These programs come with many similar features as are available in Photoshop and can give you just about the same result.
Don’t let cut-throat monthly subscriptions hold you back from creating amazing artworks, illustrations, paintings, and photo edits. Take advantage of the free photo editing apps (available online and as downloads) and start putting your skills to work. Go ahead and check out our 5 powerful and free Photoshop alternatives to find out which one works best for you.