Without doubt, Adobe Photoshop has become the industry’s market leader in image editing, photo retouching, or even producing new images. It has become like Google when it comes to photo manipulation—the usual go-to site for image or photo editing, nothing more, nothing less. Nowadays, Photoshop has become so ubiquitous with photo and image editing, that it has become an informal parlance for manipulating an image. How many times have we heard somebody say, “Can you photoshop this photo?”
Sure, Photoshop may be the main arsenal of serious photo and image junkies as well as illustrators and designers, but for most people like you and me, the application may just have too many confusing features, be too costly to buy (you need to spend hundreds of dollars for a copy), or too sophisticated to tinker with.
GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a popular alternative to Photoshop—but without you having to spend a cent to use it. This free and open-source tool, which started in Unix-based platforms, is now available in versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
GIMP is very like Photoshop in a lot of ways, such as offering a wide toolset and a very good alternative if you do not have money to spend for an image editor. However, one thing that you would notice is its interface is somewhat different from Photoshop. A quick refresher might be in need especially if you are a long time user of Photoshop. In addition, there is a version of GIMP that is available that copies the look and feel of Photoshop. The usual suite of tools is also available in GIMP—the tools you have grown accustomed to like color correction, painting tools, enhancement, selection, and cloning are all ready to use. So, if you have plans of ditching Photoshop, GIMP is making it quite easy for you to migrate.
The team behind GIMP actually tried to make sure that compatibility is not an issue with GIMP. So the tool would not have problems when you use the popular file formats of photos and/or images. GIMP also boasts a very efficient file management system that is already built-in in the software, very similar to Adobe’s Bridge.
It also has a massive user community, with fantastic list of tutorials posted on the official sites.
So, GIMP is really a good option for you when you feel you do not have the money to spend on a Photoshop copy, or you want to ditch Photoshop for various reasons.
Another excellent alternative to Photoshop is Paint.net. Once again being a free photo editing solution, it is a Windows-based tool for the Paint editor application that the Microsoft company shipped with their versions of Windows. It is surprisingly a useful and very capable tool.
It is easy to use, although it has this definite inclination towards photo and image editing rather than overall artistic creation. That does not mean it does not have its own range of special effects. Paint.net allows you to easily tile selections or repeat them, provide fake perspective, blend pixels around the image’s canvas, and many more.
Like GIMP, Paint.net has a good and loyal following, with a wide array of tutorials and plugins.
Another free alternative to Photoshop is Pixlr, which comes with more than 600 effects and is available on iOS and Android platforms. So if you are using an iPhone or Note 3, you might want to try out Pixlr, especially because it has all the tools that you would expect from a good photo editing tool, such as resizing, cropping, whitening teeth, or removing red-eyes.
If you are using Photoshop, then the user interface of Pixlr would be a breeze for you as it is easy to understand and shares some similarities with Photshop.
A highly capable and efficient image editor that is browser-based. Nevertheless, Sumopoint has the standard features you would get from a good desktop tool. If you are going to use this tool, download an Adobe Flash Player first so that you can use it on your laptop or mobile device. But the need to download Adobe Flash Player is a small hitch compared with what you will be getting from Sumopoint.
In addition, its free version is very user-friendly and usable. It is quick to load and very lightweight. It has a wide range of tools and adjustments such as brushes, shapes, text, cloning, and gradients available from a floating toolbar. Sumopoint can also open saved documents from a hard drive, making it a very good option when it comes to editing and reediting.
This free photo editor is available for Windows only. It was created in Japan, but it has English versions that you can use. Pixia supports the use of some really basic tools such as layers and masks.
Some alternatives to Photoshop are available only on Mac. One example is Seashore, which is an open-source photo and image editor for the Cocoa framework for Mac OS X. It supports alpha channel editing and multiple layers. It is similar to GIMP in some ways because it uses the same technology and native file format that GIMP uses.
This powerful open-source vector graphics editor is quite similar to popular software programs out there including Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Xara X, or Freehand. However, what sets this tool apart is the amazing use of scalable vector graphics as the native format.
8. Xara Xtreme
Xara Xtreme is an efficient, all-purpose graphics solution for various Unix platforms such as Linux, FreeBSD and OS-X (in development). Previously known as Xara LX, this tool is mainly based on Xara Xtreme for Windows, considered by many as the quickest graphics program available.
ChocoFlop is a powerful image and photo editor for Mac OS X, which is based on the CoreImage technology. Currently, it is in beta stage and available to download for free.
PhotoPlus for Windows is an effective photo editing software that allows you to fix as well as enhance digital photos, produce bitmap graphics, or even web animations.