Screen printers are not the only people who use Photoshop. Photoshop is the industry standard software for image editing. It is used in many different fields. It is used by social media marketers, photographers, graphic designers and so many other professions. It is the top image editing software. Hands down.
That being said, Photoshop can be expensive for some people. A plan can cost $20.99/monthly. While there are discounts for paying annually, the cost can be a barrier for some people. Especially when they are first starting out.
There are many people looking for Photoshop alternatives. There is a reason that Photoshop is the industry standard. Photoshop has premium tools. Adobe is constantly improving the software. Photoshop integrates into Adobe's other software programs seamlessly. This means that when a designer learns Photoshop they are able to take what they know and apply it to other programs. That’s because aspects of Photoshop are built right into them. Adobe Premiere uses parts of Photoshop. Illustrator uses parts of Photoshop. In short, Photoshop is a great program.
It is not difficult to find an alternative to Photoshop. However, any search for software that is similar to Photoshop must be measured. Photoshop is robust. The free alternatives do not measure up. Plain and simple. While there are challengers to Photoshop, they are not in a position to dethrone the king. Many of these programs use something called open source software to keep the programs free
What is open source software?
Open source software is software that is written and developed by the community and for the community. Anybody can contribute to open source software. Which means that anybody can do anything they want with the open source code. Programmers can take the original code and modify it or add a special feature, then sell it for millions of dollars.
Just because the code is free does not mean that it is bad. The code that it is written upon is not bad. It is just developed by the community and for the community rather than a programming company. Even though programming companies use open source software as well. It is actually a good thing. This is why the programs are free. It is built for society.
One of the biggest examples of open source software is WordPress. WordPress is free for anybody to use. There are companies that edit the code or write additional programs for it and earn money for their work. The most shocking thing about WordPress is that it is used on over 30% of the websites on the internet. That is a shocking number considering how many websites there are on the internet.
In this case many of these programs were developed in the hopes of making a digital image editor available for the masses that would rival Photoshop and be free at the same time.
In short, open source software is a good thing in this instance.
We’ve combined a list of the top free challengers to Photoshop.
GIMP - This is the most widely known free image editor. It is open source software. GIMP focuses on digital photography primarily. Users have difficulty with this program because it does not focus on usability. The software can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It does not require a lot of space or memory on a computer, plus system requirements are lower with GIMP. PSD (Photoshop document) files can be edited in GIMP. This program works great for batch processing images. Unfortunately, it does not have as many tools as Photoshop.
Photopea - This free option is different than other image editors because the software is not downloaded. Photopea is browser based. If a designer is using Google Chrome, Firefox, or some other image browser they can use Photopea. This product looks similar to Photoshop even in the browser. Which means that transitioning from Photoshop to Photopea should be simple. It is possible to create JPG, PNG, RAW, Sketch, GIMP, and PSD files with Photopea.
One of the drawbacks of Photopea is that there are ads. To remove the ads they require payment. When a user pays for Photopea the program also comes with increased functionality.
Colorcinch - This is a powerful alternative to Photoshop. They have two different pricing structures. Their basic account is free and then they have an advanced account called Plus. Plus costs $5.99 and includes a range of features and effects that the basic account does not have. This is also a browser-based software. It is perfect for novices. A beginner can start editing right away. The free program has text editing, filters, layers and much more.
PIXLR - Just like Photopea, Pixlr is a browser based application. It was developed by Autodesk who are the same people that made AutoCad software. Pixlr can be used with either an android or an IOS. It has over 600 effects. It also has a similar interface to Photoshop as well. Pixlr is simpler to use and not nearly as comprehensive as Photoshop.
Paint.NET - If you have Windows you probably have a program called Paint. Paint.NET is similar to Paint. This software is free and open source. Paint.NET is perfect for beginners in the photo editing industry. A professional would find this software lacking.
Krita - Krita is an open source program that is fantastic for digital painting. This program has an interface that looks similar to Photoshop and can be used on a variety of operating systems. It does not have as many features as Photoshop overall. However, if you are looking to digital paint it is awesome. It has a lot of brushes and is perfect for illustration. For digital painters this program is awesome.
Photo Pos Pro - With over 10 million views Photo Pos Pro has powerful tools and functions. The interface is very similar to Photoshop. It is intuitive for a beginner. This software includes things like layers, masks, and gradients. It also works with many of the varying file types. It is easier to use than Photoshop and Gimp.
Sumopaint - This image editor works in browsers. It has many of the basic features that you would expect from an image editor. There is a free version and a paid version as well. The paid version is much more robust than the free version. One of the drawbacks to this alternative is speed. It can take longer to make simple adjustments to images.
Seashore - This open source image editor works for Mac. It is a basic image editor. Not intended to replace Photoshop. The software has a simple user interface. Users can work with a wide variety of file types in Seashore. However, it does not support PSD files.
A word about browser based software
With advances in technology have come more powerful browsers. It is now entirely possible to do a lot of things directly in browsers that was not possible many years ago. That being said, there is one major drawback to a browser based software. They are reliant upon an internet connection. If a user has a slow internet connection then they will have issues with the software lagging. This is an issue for rural communities with poor internet. If a designer is not able to connect to the software then they are not able to use it. Plus, if the browser crashes the work could be lost. In this case a downloadable software would be significantly better.
The Final Word on Free Alternatives to Photoshop
With Photoshop as the industry standard digital imaging software it is used by a lot of companies. If a designer learns Photoshop they can take those skills to a number of companies. Employees become replaceable as well.
With that in mind most designers use Photoshop. However, there are many people that just don’t want to pay the fees that are associated with Photoshop. The options within this article can be used as photoshop alternatives. It will be a long time before they replace Photoshop in the marketplace outright. Adobe has a lot of money behind Photoshop and it is one of their top products. They will not be toppled easily. Nonetheless there are alternatives.