“That looks Photoshopped.”
We have all heard (or used) that phrase. The very fact that we now use a program name as a verb shows how prevalent it has become on the market. From designers to marketers, Adobe’s flagship software is everywhere. And it has has fooled many into thinking it has a monopoly on image editing.
Not true; there are many fantastic alternatives to Photoshop that you can choose from. Some are more suited for big tasks, some for smaller projects, but all have their places in the life of a designer. They are also much easier on the wallet, an important point if you run a small business, or freelance from home.
Here are nine alternatives to Photoshop that you can start using now.
Probably the best-known of all Photoshop alternatives, GIMP offers most of the same features of the Adobe platform, if with a far-from-similar interface. It takes some getting used to, but this open source software is the closest you can get to the real thing.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux
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Made to give the professional a more precise means of creative design, Sketch is all about vector graphics. Both snap to pixel and pixel zoom gives you more control over adapting Retina-ready mobile displays.
For those working with photos frequently, Pixelmator makes a very useful Photoshop alternative. With numerous tools to enhance, edit and retouch photos, it is a better option for the price than more complex counterparts.
Sometimes, what you need is a quick photo editor that you can use on the go, rather than an intensive software that gives you hundreds of tools. Pixlr is an online and mobile editing app with 600 effects, overlays and borders that can be applied using a web browser or smartphone.
Platforms: Web, Android, iPhone
If you want something like Sketch, only featuring non-destructive tools, Acorn may be a better (and cheaper) option. This tool includes features that are intuitive, and on par with Photoshop in scale and useability.
Whether you are on your browser or an iPad, this is a great online editor that is designed more for artists than Pixelmator. The responsive interface lets you sketch, paint, edit and design quickly, without annoying lags that can trip you up.
Platforms: Web, iPad
Price: Free, $9 (Pro), $19 (Pro Plus)
Google’s Picasa is more of a photo organization and sharing tool than imaging software. But it allows for quick edits, retouches and effects that makes it useful for those who want to change and post photos to social media profiles quickly.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
This open source vector graphics tool features three drawing styles: freehand with pencil, Bézier curves and straight lines with pen, and filled paths with calligraphy. That is in addition to dozens of other helpful tools that make it perfect for those who want a more flexible imaging software.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, Linux
Based around GIMP — and using the same native file format — Seashore isn’t just a clone to the software it was inspired by. It is specifically made for Mac’s Cocoa framework, with multiple-layer and alpha channel editing support.
There Is More To Image Editing Than Photoshop
As you can see, there are plenty of other ways to work without using Photoshop. Considering the hefty price tag and features that many of us never even learn to use, trying something different may be the ticket. You can even have multiple apps on hand, for different work and platforms. Two or three of the alternatives on this list could be much more useful than Adobe for many users.