Adobe Photoshop is the most widely used photo editing software available today. Photoshop is not only more expensive than other editing software, but it is not the best option for everyone because it is difficult to master.
To help photographers with their editing tasks, software developers have created alternatives to Photoshop. These alternatives cost less and have intuitive editing tools. If you’re up for an affordable and easy-to-use alternative to Photoshop, check out our list. Our top pick, Affinity Photo, was the first to have a full-featured iPad app with a desktop version, something Adobe is still working on getting right to Photoshop.
At a Glance:
- Best Photoshop Alternative: Affinity Photo
- Best Free Photoshop Alternative: GNU Image Manipulation Program
- Best Photoshop and Lightroom Alternative: Corel PaintShop Pro
- Best alternative to Photoshop for ease of use: Pixelmator Pro
- no subscription
- clean design
- light program
- available on ipad
- Lightroom is included
- more advanced features
While Adobe is slowly bringing the Photoshop iPad app up-to-speed with the desktop app, intimacy photo There is already a full blown iPad version. While the UI has been redesigned for the iPad, Affinity Photos has the same tools on the mobile app as it does on Windows and Mac. But, even for photographers who don’t own an iPad, Affinity Photo has the longest list of features of any Photoshop alternative.
Affinity Photos and Photoshop have a lot in common, including non-destructive layer editing and both RGB and CMYK color spaces. Right off the bat, though, there are clear differences between the programs — because Photoshop costs $10 a month, Affinity Photo has a $50 one-time fee. This means Affinity users can pay once and be done, whereas Photoshop users will lose access to the program upon canceling their subscription – but they are automatically kept up to date with the latest version at no additional upgrade fee. is. While the incremental updates to Affinity Photo are free, the move from version 1.0 to 2.0 will not.
As a new program, Affinity Photo launched with a cleaner, more modern design – many users say the program feels like using a mobile app. The developers of Affinity Photo know that the program is competing directly with the industry-standard, so the company has worked to include all the key features Photoshop is known for. The two programs are not the same, but Affinity Photo still includes many more advanced tools, such as photo merging for HDR compositing, panoramas, and focus stacking. Layers and masking are also a big part of affinity.
However, Photoshop still has some perks over affinity. Layers are more easily resized, and EXIF data can be edited, for starters. Photoshop has a more familiar interface for experienced editors, tons of tutorials, and tons of plug-ins. Probably the biggest advantage to Photoshop is the easy integration with RAW editor and organizer Adobe Lightroom, which is included in the subscription price when you sign up for the Photography plan. Serif, Affinity’s parent company, also offers Affinity Designer and Publisher, but does not have a RAW management program to compete with Lightroom.
- light program
- Contains the most basic and mid-level editing controls
- non-destructive adjustment layers
- more advanced equipment
- frequent updates
- Cost includes Lightroom, cloud storage
While there are a handful of free Photoshop alternatives, the open-source program GNU Image Manipulation Program (often shortened to) wire lace) comes closest to Photoshop’s advanced tools. As an open-source program, GIMP is free to download for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
GIMP has many of the same tools as Photoshop. Layer editing is possible, which allows GIMP to do more than just a basic crop and color edit. Many advanced edits, such as local adjustment, defect correction, and object removal, can be easily handled within open-source programs. While other free programs will crop, recolor, and apply filters, GIMP offers enough advanced tools to be considered a true Photoshop competitor.
Of course, a free program never equates to a paid industry standard. While GIMP has similar tools to most used, it lacks some features. For example, the Healing brush has one option while the Photoshop brush has four options. GIMP also doesn’t have non-destructive adjustment layer editing, where changes can be made later or changed without affecting the rest of the edits. GIMP also lags behind Photoshop’s newest new tools, with some new options not coming into the free program until years later. GIMP is not as much a graphic design program as Photoshop – CMYK support, for example, is not included.
The GIMP user interface is either great or not so great, depending on how you look at it. As an open-source format, the UI is not as professional and sleek as that of Photoshop. However, since there aren’t a lot of tools, the program can feel a little less daunting, and also allows for more customization options.
GIMP can’t exactly replace every Photoshop feature, but it’s the open-source program that comes closest to the Adobe powerhouse with a free price tag. Learn more about how it compares in our Photoshop vs. GIMP comparison.
A new fork of the GNU Image Manipulation Program is called Glimpse is hoping to create a friendlier version of the app, with a refined user interface (and a less potentially offensive name).
Corel PaintShop Pro
- windows only
- cheap, no subscription
- Multiple Interface Modes
- More advanced tools and content-aware tools
- More tutorials and plug-ins
- MacOS and Windows
There is a Photoshop alternative that is also associated with a Lightroom alternative called Aftershot Pro. Like other competitors, Corel is targeting users frustrated by paying a monthly fee by offering a one-time price. When bundled with AfterShot Pro, Corel PaintShop Pro is $100, with the upgrade at $80 for current users. However, unlike Photoshop, PaintShop Pro is a Windows-only program.
Corel PaintShop Pro is the company’s more advanced photo editor, but it attempts to bridge the gap between easy-to-use and advanced features by using an essentials panel. This mode is designed for beginners, although if you need more advanced tools, they can be accessed by simply switching the mode. This option can make the PaintShop Pro easier for beginners to dive in while still offering room to grow.
PaintShop Pro 2020 combines photography workspaces with tools specific to photo editing workflows. The update also brings a Refine Brush option for creating better selections when working with composites. A new content-aware clone tool is also part of the latest version.
Although PaintShop Pro includes many of the same tools as Photoshop, including layer-based editing, Photoshop is still the best for content-aware adjustments. Photoshop has tools like Face-Aware Liquify, which offer a more robust Content-Aware Fill than Corel’s Magic Fill, which helps fill in areas of an image based on the surrounding content. Adobe Camera Raw also has more tools than the Raw converter included with PaintShop, though this isn’t as much of an issue when opting for the bundle that includes Aftershot. However, PaintShop does have some options that aren’t part of Photoshop, including being bundled with Photomirage to auto paint a still photo and Auto Paint to quickly change the style of the painting or other artwork.
- MacOS only
- simple interface
- machine learning tools
- iCloud Compatible
- Includes Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw
- Supports HDR, GIF, Functions
- Supports CMYK
- more advanced equipment
- MacOS and Windows
One of the top-rated desktop image editors in the Mac App Store, Pixelmator Pro is a macOS-only editor that is billed as a set of “professional image editing tools that anyone can use”. The streamlined program doesn’t have all the power of Photoshop, but easily rises above other beginner-friendly editing apps. Because it’s designed from the ground up for Mac, Mac users will immediately feel at home inside the simple user interface, while also enjoying features like seamless integration with iCloud. And unlike Photoshop, Pixelmator Pro costs just $40 as a one-time download.
Despite the low price, Pixelmator Pro still includes a wealth of different photo editing tools. This, of course, covers the basics like cropping, exposure adjustment, and color correction, but also includes many more advanced features. Layers includes – and non-destructive – compatibility with the brush tool and retouching tool, as well as common file types such as PSD, PNG, HEIF, and TIFF.
Pixelmator Pro is a much smaller app than Photoshop, but it is regularly adding new features and expanding others. Some of the latest improvements are focused on machine learning, including a tool to upscale a photo and another to remove noise.
While Pixelmator Pro isn’t a beginners-only simplified photo editor, Adobe Photoshop still wins in a few areas when it comes to completing more complex edits. Pixelmator Pro doesn’t support creating GIFs, and while you can manually merge HDR images, there’s no auto-align feature in Photoshop. There are also some time-saving features missing such as Actions, which, in Photoshop, let you record your workflow and apply it to future images.
As we’ve seen with many other competing models, the Pixelmator Pro also doesn’t have a Lightroom option, which gives Photoshop another advantage. vary from…