Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Best Photoshop Alternatives in 2018 – Free Software Comparisons

The Best Photoshop Alternatives in 2016- Reviews & Comparisons

Adobe Photoshop is, without a doubt, the juggernaut among all image manipulation software available in the market. With such an impressive array of editing tools, functions, and efficient customer support, Photoshop remains as the top choice when it comes to powerful industry standard editing.

However, the program does not come cheap which may turn off those who cannot afford Photoshop’s fees. Also its steep learning curve does not help those who are new in graphic design or image editing.

With the continuing rise of free browser based applications, and the availability of affordable yet powerful software, both amateur and professional designers no longer need to worry as there are a few Photoshop alternatives that can fit the bill for their artistic needs:



Also known as GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP is an open source image editor that’s freely available for the big three operating systems: Linux, Mac OS, and Windows. GIMP’s collection of editing tools, ranging from cloning to painting tools, are neatly displayed on a modern user interface. Photoshop fanatics need not fret as switching to GIMP won’t be as hard but, for those who miss the big P, it is entirely possible to tweak the program into performing Photoshop commands and other relevant functions thanks to it being open source. With excellent compatibility, constant updates that weed out persistent bugs and improve stability, and the availability of plugins to circumvent certain lacking functions, GIMP certainly is a promising (and free) second option next to Photoshop.



Another browser based photo editing app. Don’t let its simple interface fool you, PicMonkey is packed with many features than makes it a viable alternative Photoshop alternative if the need to edit arises, and it is very easy to use. The site offers four functions namely:

Edit and Touch Up has dozens of filters, the ability to enhance images, add text, resize, change color, and a lot of other useful tools, making it ideal for people who want to make some changes to a picture prior to posting on social media sites or blogs. The availability of themes makes editing of themed images a lot easier by organizing all relevant effects depending on the theme (Halloween, Holiday, etc.). The site also has a collection of tutorials that teach editing tricks like creating pop art and retouching photos, to name a few.

Design opens a black canvas that allows users to freely create images with the same tools on the above functions. It is possible to make simple graphical outputs like blog banners, Facebook cover photos, greeting cards, advertisements, and others thanks to its choice of different canvas sizes.
The last function, Collage, lets users upload multiple images that can be arranged using the pre-made or custom-made layouts to form a single image.

Images created with PicMonkey can be saved to the computer or directly uploaded to sites like Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter. The app is free to use, but users may sign up for Royale membership (currently has a free trial of 30 days) for $4.99 per month or $33 annually. This adds a ton of new effects, fonts, and other templates used in all four functions.

Canva (Free)

A browser based application that focuses on the creation of business cards, book and e-book covers, graphical blog content, marketing images, and posters. A wide variety of free (and paid) specifically designed layouts are ready for those on a hurry to produce an output, and the option of creating something out of a blank canvas is also available. There is virtually no shortage of charts frames, icons, and images available to the user as Canva boasts over a million stock images and backgrounds (again, some for a fee), plus the ability to upload pictures from the computer or Facebook account serves as an alternative method of adding photos.

An incredibly simple design assures that graphic design neophytes won’t be overwhelmed by dozens of buttons and sliders, in fact Canva only has five menus on the left that are tidily organized. Aside from the actual design function, Canva also has Design School that contains a wealth of creative tutorials arranged by category, and Design Stream which serves as a way for users to share their creations. Users can also contribute their own illustrations and photographs with a 35% royalty whenever they are used in the site. Canva goes to show that a high-quality professional design is actually possible even in platforms that are for free.

Corel Paintshop Pro ($79.99)

Corel Paintshop

Corel Paintshop Pro is a cheaper alternative to Photoshop but with most of the latter’s basic tools and sophisticated modes. The interface is almost similar with some tools having the same function as their Photoshop counterparts but with different labels. Also, Paintshop has three main tabs that make editing and organizing files a breeze namely:

Manage: Where images are organized in folders and grids for easy navigation across hundreds of files.
Adjust: Fix images or change certain elements with options like brightness, color, contrast, cropping, lighting, noise levels, and others.
Edit: The main image manipulation interface.

With a wide selection of fonts, brushes, effects, other functions such as vector graphics editing, auto correction of images, and support of more than a dozen popular file formats, Paintshop caters to every type of design needed with its versatility. Its Ultimate ($99.99) version comes with:

on1 Perfect Effects 9.5: Provides a huge library of filters for image editing.
Corel Aftershot: Allows conversion of RAW photos and better organization of large image collections.
Perfectly Clear: Makes images a lot clearer with 15 advanced and specific adjustments.

Veteran Photoshop artists surely won’t have a hard time adjusting to Paintshop, and Corel’s Discovery Center has tons of learning material for those who are new to the scene or are looking for refresher lessons. A free 30 day trial is available on Corel’s website for users who want to test the waters first. Unfortunately, the program is only compatible with Windows and cannot be used on other operating systems.

Cyberlink Photodirector

Cyberlink Photodirector

This image manipulation software promises an interface that will make the process of editing easier for those who are new to the field and cannot jump into Photoshop yet, not to mention Photodirector’s affordable price tag. Photodirector is available in three versions:

Suite ($149): Complete with all features of Ultra. Comes with Color Director 4, a powerful color grading software, and 40GB storage space on Cyberlink’s Cloud Service for one year (exclusive for Windows only).
Ultra ($99): Supports Mac OS X. Has layer based editing, 2D panorama, grain effect, blur, radial filter, and split toning tools. Photographers will be pleased with Photodirector Ultra’s powerful lens correction capabilities as it utilizes the EXIF data of pictures itself to correct numerous photographic errors. Also has 20GB storage space for one year on Cyberlink’s Cloud Service.
Deluxe ($59.99): Has the basic functions, but without Mac OS X support.

All three versions have adjustment tools that are aligned on edges for a nonintrusive interface, coupled with sliders that give precise control to configurations like brightness, color correction, noise removal, and many others. Never be caught in disarray as Photodirector allows proper sorting of files with the use of labels, flags, tags, etc. Tools like gradient mask and bracket HDR make the execution of advanced editing techniques easier, and a library of presets and body and face beautification tools provide lightning-fast image editing. Cyberlink’s Director Zone contains hundreds of templates and images from other users that are ready for download. Photodirector is also available in both Android and Apple devices, making portable editing possible.

Bridget Rogers
Bridget Rogers
Bridget Rogers is an independent freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Bridget's work can be found on a variety of sources in both online and print media.


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