When it comes to image editing, there is no doubt that photoshop is most people’s go-to solution. It has the backing of the reputable Adobe brand, which boasts other products such as Premiere Pro and Illustrator, and can do everything from image cropping to layering.
Although users are entitled to a 7 day photoshop free trial, the platform then becomes subscription based meaning you have to pay to use it. While this may be entirely worthwhile for graphic designers who are making complex edits, it isn’t all that necessary for those of us who just want to make the smallest of edits to certain images every now and then.
In this article, we are going to look at some of the best free alternatives to photoshop which should give all photoshop subscribers some food for thought.
Free Photoshop alternatives
For those looking for true alternatives to Photoshop, Photopea is a great option. It has a similar layout and UX to Photoshop, so it can make the transition between the two relatively pain-free.
The photo editing tools provided are similar too, and whilst it doesn’t have the advanced features of Photoshop, it does allow for easy layering, a pen tool and various file formats – this includes PSD files.
For beginners that are just getting started with an online photo editor, this is one of the best Photoshop alternatives if you’re looking to save some cash. You can achieve a lot with Photopea, from the ability to edit raw photos through to creating your own digital painting.
Krita has long been one of the most popular Photoshop alternatives, and it’s understandable why this is the case. It offers an intuitive interface that ideal for beginners.
One reason why Krita is a solid choice is that it has a free tutorial section that can help you get to grips with the app. This can teach you how to use brush tips, the basics of layer based editing and much more.
It’s worth checking Krita out if you’re searching for an open source image editor that can be used for professional editing or just fun free photo editing.
Sure, the name isn’t ideal but GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is one of the best free alternatives out there for when it comes to image editing.
The interface of the app looks very similar to Photoshop, and that’s because it really is as close as you’re going to get without paying up for Photoshop itself.
As a result, it can look quite daunting and complex to the naked eye and therefore perhaps isn’t a viable option for anyone who is looking to just make simple edits. However, for professional or advanced graphic designers, GIMP really could be what you’re looking for.
One of the best features of GIMP are its brushes. Using brushes to touch up and edit images are absolutely central on Photoshop and they are on GIMP too. In fact, it could be argued that the brush tools on GIMP are even superior to those on Photoshop.
In addition to brush tools, you can also perform other popular Photoshop tasks on GIMP such as layering. Layering is when you use multiple different images to create one overall image, something that can be done very easily on Photoshop.
While this is also possible on GIMP, it gets a little bit more fiddly and difficult when the user starts selecting tens or hundreds of different layers.
Overall, if you’re looking for a like for like free replacement for Photoshop, then you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one than GIMP.
I think it’s fair to say that all of us from a certain generation all started off our photo editing journey on Microsoft paint back when computers were new and we all played minesweeper and solitaire instead of Call of Duty.
Don’t worry, we’re not about to recommend that original version of Paint to you, but we are going to recommend the platform that evolved from that original app – Paint.net.
Again, you will notice almost immediately that Paint.net has a very similar look and feel to photoshop making it a brilliant candidate for anyone looking to seamlessly switch from one photo editing platform to another.
It also takes some elements from the original Paint app, as well as obviously adding in more modern and complex editing tools.
There are a plethora of different tools on Paint.net, all of which can be used to do various things such as brightness adjustment, blending, layering and red-eye removal to name just a few. The best part of Paint.net for me though is the after effects tab.
The effects which you can add to your image are absolutely superb, allowing users to do everything from sharpening an image up to distorting certain sections of it draw your audience in to a certain part of the image.
For those of us who like to edit photos for Instagram, Paint.net has you covered with its various filter options which you can play around with once you’ve edited your picture completely.
Personal favourites include the vignette and sepia filters which give off a retro look. For browser based editing, this is a good option.
The last Photoshop alternative that we’d like to talk about is one that isn’t spoken about nearly enough and while it isn’t an app as such, it is certainly free and easily accessible via any web browser.
BeFunky is a very simple, minimalistic photo editing tool that is absolutely perfect for making quick and easy edits for those of us who aren’t interested in overly complex images.
To use BeFunky you simply have to visit their website and select create – photo editor. From here you can then drop in the image that you want to edit and play around with it.
For web professionals who are looking for a free tool to crop and resize images to fit certain dimensions, then there really is no need to sign up to a lengthy and pricey Photoshop subscription when BeFunky does this job expertly.
While BeFunky is limited compared to the aforementioned apps, it can still do more than just cropping and resizing. You can go into the touch up section when dealing with images of people and play around with various tools from teeth whitening to changing eye colour.
It is also possible to add different graphics to your image, ideal if you are creating an infographic or an instruction manual, where you want to be able to emphasise certain points.
The different effects you can put on any images edited on BeFunky are also brilliant. If you want to change the feel of an image with one click of a button then check out their array of options via the ‘effects’ tab and have a play around to find the perfect fit for the look you’re going for.
As far as free web based editing goes, BeFunky really is a hidden gem and should be well worth a go if you aren’t someone looking for anything too in depth.
To conclude, despite what Adobe would have you believe there are other image editing tools out there that can do the vast majority of what Photoshop does and for free.
If you want more in depth editing then check out GIMP and Paint.net, however, if you prefer a more straightforward and simplistic approach to editing then make sure to visit BeFunky.