The first version of Photoshop appeared in 1987 and was created by Thomas and John Knoll. In 1988 Adobe purchased Photoshop, and since then, the rise of the most popular graphics editor began. However, while it’s sitting on its golden throne, many alternatives to Photoshop are being introduced every year.
Every year many startups try to release their vision of that one “new Photoshop.” And while some attempts don’t go far, other apps are designed so thoughtfully that they can be observed as worthy Adobe Photoshop alternatives with full-fledged functionality. Of course, nothing stops you from staying with Photoshop, which is likely to remain a gold standard for designers for years ahead. However, if you feel like some software changes or need an app that would fit photo or image editing better — or just want a free app — the market has plenty of great options. Open-source apps, advanced photo-editing software and all sorts of the best Photoshop alternatives from indie studios — we’ve got program suggestions at any taste!
Best Used For
- Windows 64-bit versions: 10 (1607 Anniversary update or higher), 8.1, 7 (Service Pack 1; Platform Update KB2670838; Aero enabled)
- MacOS: 10.9 Mavericks, 10.10 Yosemite, 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra, 10.13 High Sierra, 10.14 Mojave, 10.15 Catalina, 11.0 Big Sur
- iPad: iOS 12 or above
- Layer-based workflow.
- Non-destructive filters.
- An extended set of tools for image editing and professional retouching.
- Simple and intuitive interface.
- Real-time editing and massive image support.
- Seamless workflow: works on Windows, Apple and iPad.
- Huge library of pre-installed brushes.
- Supports PSD format and Smart Objects.
As it states on their main page, “If you could create your own photo editing software, it would work like this.” And it has its reasons! Affinity Photo is one of the most successful photo & image editing software released in the past decade, which can fit designers, photographers, illustrators and everyone who needs a powerful app that would be technically similar to Photoshop — but less costly.
Affinity Photo is a complete solution for photo editing with an impressive toolset for flawless retouching, quick corrections, support of hundreds of layers at a time, and full RAW development. Some of its features, like the in-built brush library or non-destructive filters, leave the competitors far behind and make of Affinity Photo the major Photoshop alternative that’s most frequently chosen by professional creatives.
Getting back to the brushes, you can import raster sets made for Affinity Designer. Please note, that Affinity Photo doesn’t support vector format, so you won’t be able to use vector Affinity Designer brushes there.
Best Used For
- Windows 10 ( version 1903 or later with the latest service pack (64-bit edition)
- Powerful photography tools and features.
- HDR, 360° camera and RAW files support.
- Non-destructive layers and masks.
- Built-in brushes & support of Adobe Photoshop brushes.
- Templates library for collages, greeting cards, social media images, web banners, business cards and more.
- AI-powered tools.
- Over 60 formats supported (including EPS, GIF, JPEG, JPG, PSD, PNG, PDF).
- PaintShop Pro 2022 — $79.99 (30 days of free trial available)
- PaintShop Pro 2022 Ultimate — $99.99 (30 days of free trial available)
Corel PaintShop Pro is one of the best alternatives to Photoshop available for Windows users. The 2022 version comes packed with AI and machine learning-based features, which already makes an app to consider for a try. The use of AI technologies allows a whole bunch of manipulations that’ll be greatly appreciated by everyone involved in professional image editing: AI Background Replacement, Portrait Mode, Style Transfer and a lot more.
Another feature of PaintShop Pro is the support of both vector and raster graphics. This makes it possible to draw with vector illustration tools, and use color palettes, gradients, and patterns. Along with that, you can take advantage of the pre-built brush library or import any of your favorite Adobe Photoshop brushes.
PaintShop Pro is provided in two versions: classic one and Corel PaintShop Pro Ultimate. The latter includes pro-grade tools for photo editing to perform as a complete photo-editing studio to cover you from start to end.
Best Used For
- iOS (iPadOS 13.2 or newer to install)
- Over 200 in-built brushes: pencils, inks, charcoals, and artistic strokes.
- Multi-touch gestures.
- Powerful Valkyrie graphics engine, allowing to paint at the speed of 120fps.
- Animation Assist for simple yet powerful animation.
- QuickShape, StreamLine, Drawing Assist, ColorDrop and many other tools to give you full control over your work.
- Full font control.
- Filter brushes and a library of effects.
- Procreate (iPad) — $9.99
- Procreate Pocket (iPhone) — $4.99
If you are considering Photoshop alternatives and rather use your iPad than desktop, Procreate is one of the most winning choices you can make. Procreate was created as an app for digital artists and illustrators so it comes with tools Photoshop users could only dream of. However, Procreate is almost useless as photo editing software, as the provided functional will never compete with the one of Photoshop.
Procreate receives annual updates, and every time it makes a huge leap forward, both technically and visually. The current version is going to strike you with flawless interface that’s been adapted to the artist’s needs and comfort. Getting to the most impressive tools of Procreate, there are many creative features and tools like powerful filters, gradient map, eased coloring, and a lot more, all under the sauce of the powerful engine, Valkyrie.
Procreate doesn’t support Adobe Photoshop brushes. However, it contains a rich in-build library. There are lots of free and premium brush packs created for this app, and finally, Procreate has grown a community where you can get some tips or get custom brushes from other creators.
Best Used For
- Any browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge
- Windows (10 version 19003.0 or higher, Windows 10 version 16299.0 or higher)
- Android (version 4.1. or higher)
- iOS (version 10.0 or higher)
- Online, desktop and mobile versions available.
- Tools for creating collages, social media posts and photo editing.
- Custom photo effects and vast library of in-build add-ons.
- A rich fonts library.
- Effortless photo correction: remove blemishes, red-eye, smoothen skin, or whiten teeth with simple tools.
- Auto Fix tool.
Pixlr X is one of rare quality free Photoshop alternatives. It’s a photo editor which allows basic edits and transformations. It’s hardly can be considered as full-stack Photoshop replacement, however, Pixlr can be a great solution for most manipulations.
The app allows creating and editing Facebook or YouTube thumbnails, social media posts and collages with the provided library of templates. Like in Photoshop, with Pixlr X you’ll be able to use filters and effects, text styles, overlays and borders — and there is a pretty rich library of these. You can also edit the provided graphics: Pixlr supports JPEG, PNG, GIF, WEBP and PSD formats.
Pixlr X is a free app with a basic functional for photo editing. There is an advanced photo editor, Pixlr E, which is free too. It’s AI-powered and allows a wider range of tools.
Best Used For
- Windows (10 version or higher)
- MacOS (10.10 or later)
- iPad and iPhone (iOS 10+ versions)
- Android (version 4.1 and higher)
- Smear and blend thick oils to create natural color gradients.
- Sketch with pencils and shade with the edge of the tip.
- Create delicate watercolor strokes that react to canvas texture.
- Use photos as References while painting.
- Work with Guides, Grids, and Perspective Layout tools.
- Features Layers, Blend Modes, and other industry standards.
ArtRage is an app that it’s hard to compare with Adobe products, as it covers only a part of its functions: the artistic one. It’s a computer painting package rather than another Photoshop alternative, and it allows everyone try oil, pencil, chalk and watercolor in the most realistic envornment. In fact, the app was created specifically for the artistic audience, from newbies to techers and professional illustrators.
ArtRage brings painting as it is: paints smear and blend naturally, and the canvas react just like it would in professional drawing with physical supplies. The interface was meant to be as simple and intuitive as possible, so it performs like an easel: pick the tools to be used and leave the rest for another day or project.
Best Used For
- Windows, MacOS, iPad, iPhone, Android (any browser)
- Fits beginners and students.
- Open-source image and photo editor.
- Supports raster and vector graphics.
- Web-based service which stores all files locally, and does not upload any files to a server.
- Can open PSD files.
- Layer masks.
- Blend modes.
- Can use ABR brushes.
Photopea is is an open-source web-based graphics editor which can work with raster and vector graphics. It can be used for image editing, making illustrations, web design or converting between different image formats. It’s one of the best free Photoshop alternatives available for online and mobile app use.
Unlike most online drawing and photo editing tools, Photopea is an advanced software. It offers a wide variety of image editing tools, including spot healing, a clone stamp healing brush, and a patch tool. Photopea supports layers, layer masks, channels, selection tools, paths, Smart Objects, layer styles, text layers, filters and vector shapes. Last but not least, it is compatible with most popular graphic formats: PSD, JPEG, PNG, DNG, GIF, SVG, PDF. Photopea has a default collection of brushes, but you can import your own brushes in the Photoshop ABR format and use them as you did in Photoshop.
One of the major perks of Photopea isn’t the toolset it provides or the fact it’s free. Photopea has a an extremely intuitive and comprehensible UI. It makes the app a great option for beginners or for those who want to try themselves in design but aren’t ready to purchase CC membership.
Best Used For
- Mac OS (version 10.14 Mojave or later)
- Supports Photoshop images with layers.
- Uses layers-based editing.
- Over 40 tools for selecting, cropping, painting, retouching, typing, measuring and navigation.
- Shape tools.
- 16 color correction tools and over 50 filters.
- Supports macOS ColorSync and ColorSync profiles are supported.
- Compatible with Apple Pencil.
- Supports PXD, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, HEIF, PSD, SVG, PDF, GIF, BMP, TGA, JPEG.
Pixelmator Pro is a powerful image editor that isn’t just another alternative to Photoshop. It brings photo editing and extensive graphic design tools of the highest level, which make it a complete rival to the famous app — this is not just a matter of words, as more and more photographers and artists switch to Pixelmator Pro and never regret the choice.
There is no shortage of professional functionalities, so in many relations, Pixelmator Pro is like Photoshop: there are non-destructive adjustments, RAW editing, color adjustments, noise removal, geometric transformations and layering. Not to mention over 40 tools for drawing, retouching and selection, meticulously elaborated for the Mac users. With its recent update, the app supports machine learning technologies — for instance, they are used for quick color correction.
Pixelmator Pro has a very simple and understandable interface, so even a creative newbie will fill confident using it.
Best Used For
- Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10)
- Customizable interface.
- Editable layers.
- A library of templates and effects.
- Supports all standards professional features as Filters, Layers, Masks, Curves, Scripts, Effects, Brushes and etc.
- Photo Pos Pro premium edition — $49.90
While there are many great Photoshop alternatives (including free apps), some perform like its reduced analogs. Photos Pos Pro, and app with a promising functional is one of those. It was created to bring the most of photo editing tools inside a convenient free app — however, creative professionals are likely to find it outdated: starting from the interface to the slow engine.
However, Photos Pos Pro has many tools for photo manipulations similarly to another Adobe product, Lightroom. You can use it for color correction, creating collages, business cards or flyers. You can also perform retouching using layers, custom brushes and healing tools.
Photos Pos Pro allows to apply various artistic effects, textures, gradients to create projects from scratch. You can create filters yourself or add the ones you downloaded elsewhere — the in-build library is quite boring, so you’re likely to resort to you your own add-ons library.
Best Used For
- Windows (version 8.1 version or higher)
- MacOS (version 10.12 and higher)
- Clean and flexible interface.
- Over 100 professionally made brushes.
- 3 different ways to smooth and stabilize brush strokes.
- Built-in vector tools to create comic panels and draw manga.
- Easy to create seamless textures and patterns.
- Simple and powerful 2D animation.
- Open, save, edit and author HDR and scene-referred images.
Krita is a free open-source app that makes an opposite to Photoshop with it’s great human-oriented philosophy. It’s made by regular people who check Reddit, read forums, talk daily on IRC, check bug reports, and do their best to improve the app. Among all the free Photoshop alternatives, Krita is probably the only one which can be considered not just an app, but a community.
Of course, it’s hard to compete with Photoshop in terms of the provided tools. However, Krita works like a solid software for digital drawing many creatives enjoy. For example, it has a great animation system (which is really great!) and quality brush engines, that will be much appreciated by illustrators. The interface is simple, with a very intuitive flow.
Krita allows importing brush texture from the ABR file, but to get a brush, you have to recreate it yourself by adding the appropriate values of size, spacing etc.
Best Used For
- Windows (from Windows 7 and higher)
- MacOS (from 10.9 Mavericks and higher)
- High-quality image manipulation.
- Can be used for for producing icons, graphical design elements, and art for user interface components and mockups.
- Pro-grade framework for scripted image manipulation, with multi-language support such as C, C++, Perl, Python, Scheme, and more.
- Vast file format support: BMP, GIF, JPEG, MNG, PCX, PDF, PNG, PS, PSD, SVG, TIFF, TGA, XPM, and many others.
GIMP is one of the first free Photoshop alternatives, which has been here for over 25 years. The software fits graphic designers, photographers and illustrators, both interested in high-quality photo manipulation and creating original artworks.GIMP will come particularly in handy to the young creators who aren’t ready to pay for joining Creative Cloud but need full-stack functional for their work or study.
GIMP is an open source-image editor and a free alternative to Photoshop, which has greatly mirrored the original app in terms of the features. It has loads of extensions, scripts, and plugins you can use for specific functionalities. And if you can, you can even code and use a script of yours. Since it’s the oldest and most popular Photoshop freeware alternative, you can find many courses on GIMP, and there is a vast community of those who uses this app.
The key obstacle to comfortable designing with GIMP might be its learning curve, comparatively slow response and the interface. Of course, it has evolved greatly since the 2000s, but still a bit messy.
Best Used For
- MacOS (version 10.11 or higher)
- Windows (7 or higher (only x64-bit OS))
- High-quality bracket merging and color enhancement, thanks to the power of Artificial Intelligence.
- 20+ essential tools for all HDR editing needs.
- Works as both a standalone or plug-in (Apple Photos, Photoshop and Lightroom).
- Advanced features for pro photographers: layers and masking, batch processing, RAW support.
- Recommended app for landscape and aerial photography.
- $99 (30 days money-back guarantee)
Aurora HDR is one of the best (or maybe even the best) apps for High Dynamic Range photography. It’s a professional software for landscape, aerial and outdoor photographers which stands out from other Lightroom and Photoshop alternatives. It is so because it wasn’t created as replacement for these apps: Aurora HDR can be used as a standalone app or as a plugin to Apple Photos, Photoshop and Lightroom.
There are over 20 tools for HDR editing needs: creative LUT mapping, polarizing filter, color toning, HDR denoise, dodge & burn, details enhancer and many more, all enabling flawless HDR images in seconds. No other HDR editing program offers layers, and probably no other HDR editing program allows images of higher quality.
Aurora HDR can be a replacement of the classic Adobe apps for those who feel tired of the overloaded interface. Compared to Photoshop which has way too many tools that a photographer will hardy ever need, Aurora is a great workhorse to cover most of the purposes.
Best Used For
- MacOS (version 10.13.6 or higher)
- Windows 10 (only 64-bit OS)
- Fully powered by AI.
- Templates with AI assistance.
- Eraser and Clone & Stamp tools offer great results on even complex areas.
- Atmospheric effects emulation.
- The effects are non-destructive and don’t need layers to work.
- Recognizes 7,000+ kinds of objects for improved editing.
- Reconstruction by determining the placement of objects.
Luminar is a universal photo editing software that is a great fit for the photography professionals. It was created by the same team as Aurora HDR, however, with a different focus. Luminar is the first image editor fully powered by artificial intelligence. It is worth mentioning that Luminar can be used as a stand-alone app or a Photoshop or Lightroom plugin.
The app supports non-destructive image editing. It provides over 70 filters for image retouching and creative effects. The effects can be combined using layers and masks. However, AI tools get most of the attention and appreciation from the professional community: they reduce time of photo editing and allow obtaining the desired effect in less time and with less effort.
Not so long ago was announced a new iteration of Luminar, Luminar Neo. The new app has an improved AI to improve the quality of processing and increase the performance. It will receive the best of Luminar and add some brand-new features like the tools for adjusting lighting parameters or an ability to remove various imperfections caused by contamination of the camera sensor or lens.
Best Used For
- Online, in any browser.
- Over 300 different brushes.
- Fully web-based with an intuitive user experience.
- More than 20 drawing tools.
- Layers and layer effects available with PRO plan.
- 8 services under a single subscription.
- Basic Plan — Free
- Pro Plan — $9/month
- Edu Plan (only for students) — $19/year
Sumopaint is a full-fledged online photo and image editor. It was created as a convenient and simple-to-use alternative for those users who only use 10% of Photoshop’s tools and features. The app allows basic photo editing and provides a rich set of color correction tools for drawing and design purposes. It also contains a large number of filters, effects, and over 300 in-built brushes.
Besides the standard toolset, the app has a few unique features. These are the Symmetry Tool that might come in handy for creating patterns and shapes. The primary functions such as creating, deleting, and duplicating layers can be complemented by effects: opacity, shadow casting, gradient, and more.
Sumopaint is available for free with reduced functions. It will fit those who need an app for a few quick or simple manipulations. For those, who consider Sumo Paint as a Photoshop alternative and need it to perform more complex tasks, there is a paid Pro plan. Along with an extended library of tools and features, it grants access to other creative apps from the team: audio editor, video editor, music studio, code studio, pixel editor, and 3D studio.
Best Used For
- MacOS (Catalina (10.15.0) or newer)
- Flexible vector editing.
- Easy to zoom to the pixel level.
- Infinite Canvas with flexible artboards and presets.
- Shorthand and math operators to design faster.
- Variable and OpenType fonts.
- Keep things consistent by defining Color Variables, Text and Layer Styles.
- Real-time collaboration and a set of cross-platform tools for feedback, sharing and developer handoff.
- Powerful export options.
- Quickly link different parts of your design and create prototypes to test out your ideas.
- 700+ extensions.
Sketch is a vector-based software for Mac. It is used primarily for desktop and mobile UI design, mockups, and prototypes — and today, it’s the most popular designers choice in this field. It allows editing photos, however, it’s hard to consider Sketch as a full-fledged Photoshop alternative for photo processing.
The app has made its name as one of the easiest apps to use, and is the second most popular design app after Adobe Photoshop. Sketch has a clean interface and comprehensive library of tools and features for prototyping, web, and app design, seasoned by collaboration features. Shared styles, swapping symbols, Symbol Inspect to quickly edit even the tiniest elements, easy templates organization — there should be a separate article listing the app’s benefits.
It’s important that Sketch is still not the right option for product design. It’s perfectly suitable for UI and UX projects, social media templates, and website design. For other design tasks, you’ll need a different app.
For better and more effective work, you’ll need plugins as the functionality of Sketch greatly relies on them. The app comes with over 700 plugins and extensions to choose from depending on the project and request.
Best Used For
- MacOS (10.14 or higher)
- Use the clone tool across layers, images, and even clone group and shape layers.
- Non-destructive curves, levels, and filters.
- Combine filters together to create endless combinations.
- Rich photo effects library: tilt shift, vignette, drop shadow, gradients, sharpening, color correction, distortions, blurs and over a hundred more.
- Vector tools and features.
- Smart Layer Export.
- The Clone, Paint, Smudge, Dodge, Burn, Stamp, and other tools that work on pixels.
- Supports JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, HEIF, GIF, BMP, TIFF, PSD, PDF, ICO, AI (with PDF compatibility), RAW, PICT, SVG, and TGA.
Acorn is an image editor for Mac and a good Photoshop alternative. Compared to the Adobe app, it has clean, intuitive interface and most of the features an amateur may need for photo and image editing. It is reported as a fast and small app that easily perform most of creative manipulations and is a good choice at it’s price — especially for beginner designers and students who need more than a free app and aren’t ready to get a Creative Cloud subscription.
The app includes lots of customizable filters, effects, brushes and tools — and their quantity has increased after the recent release of Acorn 7 update. With version 7, the software received major changes both of its functional and in the user interface which is now more polished and modern-looking.
The app supports non-destructive editing, layer masks, and CMYK. It can open RAW image files as well as Photoshop’s PSD files.