Best Photoshop Alternatives
If you’re looking for the best Photoshop alternatives in 2020, you’re definitely not the only one.
While there are numerous benefits if you want to buy Adobe Photoshop CC, many photographers and designers just can’t justify the cost of the subscription to the Creative Cloud.
Fortunately, there are several other image editing software options available that offer powerful features and plugins to help streamline your workflow.
At A Glance: Top 11 Photoshop Alternatives in 2020
In this article, I’ll introduce 11 of the best paid and free Photoshop alternatives of the year so far.
Affinity Photo is a powerful and affordable alternative to Photoshop. It allows you to import RAW images but unfortunately it doesn’t offer a way of organizing your digital assets within the program.
It’s a great piece of software if you need to create HDR images, do focus stacking or panorama stitching.
Affinity photo supports layers, so you’ll be editing your images in a non-destructive way – a significant advantage over some other image editing tools.
It’s suitable both for minor local adjustments and layered compositions with a relatively high complexity level.
What Affinity Photo lacks are tools for import and photo management as a whole. The program is also not capable of creating customized workspaces, which can be inconvenient sometimes.
All things considered, Affinity Photo is a good Photoshop alternative. While Photoshop remains the more sophisticated program if you seek advanced photo editing capabilities, Affinity does offer powerful features and tools for an attractive price.
Luminar is a well-known photo editing tool created by the company Skylum. Founded in 2008, Skylum is famous for developing not only Luminar but also Aurora HDR, Snapheal, Focus, Tonality, FX Photo Studio and Noiseless.
The latest version of this program, Luminar 4, was quite recently released – on November 18, 2019 – and it offers some significant improvements over past versions. It can be used as a standalone piece of software or it can be installed as a plugin for Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CC.
The workspace is organized into six different panels: Layers, Canvas, Essentials, Creative, Portrait and PRO. These sections appear when you click on them and automatically disappear when you choose to work with another panel, which helps to keep your “writing desk” clean and tidy.
With Luminar 4 you can edit RAW images in a non-destructive way, plus you’ll be able to do advanced masking and even insert the sun along with its rays realistically into your photos.
But the most exciting feature of all is, without a shadow of a doubt, the AI Sky Replacement. It was announced as the headline feature of this software’s latest version and, yes – it is worth the fuss. Many users claim to be blown away by the accuracy and the efficiency of this new tool.
At the moment, Luminar 4 is available on the market in three different editions depending on how many extras you’d like included. See the latest pricing here.
GIMP is considered by many to be one of the best free Photoshop alternatives out there. This open-source photo editor has been in the game for quite a long time: its initial release was 24 years ago, in 1996.
The editing platform combines an array of professional features which can easily compete with the functionalities of Photoshop itself. The interface of GIMP is also quite straightforward and it won’t take you long to get accustomed to the program.
In GIMP you’ll be able to create masks and layers, and also make colour adjustments whenever needed. One other great advantage of the platform is the possibility of modifying it so that it matches your personal preferences.
GIMP is famous for the wide variety of plugins that it can offer to its users. It can even support an equivalent to Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill tool. The name of this plugin is Resynthesizer and it’s one of the oldest and the most useful enhancements created for this platform.
If you don’t want to spend any money editing images, GIMP can be a better Photoshop alternative for you.
Canva is a very simple web based design platform which allows you to create professional-looking content for all kinds of social media.
It’s free of charge and you can use it online, but it does have a more advanced pro version which costs $9.95 when paid annually and $12.95 if it’s paid on a monthly basis.
With the free version of Canva, you can have up to 10 team members, access to more than 8,000 templates to choose from and alter, and up to 1GB storage for photos and assets.
This program is truly a great choice when it comes to combining images with text, which is quite often needed when you create content for Instagram, for example.
So how does it stack up as a Photoshop alternative? Well, it’s definitely not going to blow you away with a wide array of photo enhancement features, but then again, its strength lies elsewhere.
Canva has a huge number of free icons, badges, design grids, stickers and photo frames that look up-to-date and very fresh. That’s not something you’ll find native to Adobe Photoshop.
I remember one of the first times I played around with Canva last year: I was able to create a simple poster with a black-and-white photo I’d taken, which ended up being chosen for the final product by the clients. And I know for a fact that they had also hired a professional graphic designer – who I’m sure did use more complicated software to create her poster – but nonetheless, her version didn’t get chosen in the end.
5. Pixlr Editor
Pixlr Editor is considered by many to be the online alternative to Photoshop. No download is required for this photo editor and it’s also free of charge.
Pixlr is fully capable of supporting layers, masks and a non-destructive image editing process as a whole.
Another positive thing to note is that Pixlr has a customizable interface which you can change to meet your exact needs and which can make the photo editing process more convenient.
With this photo editor, you can not only upload your photo, but you can also open it directly from a URL location or create a new image from scratch.
Similar to all other free pieces of software, Pixlr will show you a decent amount of ads while you’re using it, so be prepared for this part of the deal.
Another important detail to mention when it comes to this particular program is that it will require you to download and install Flash, so don’t be surprised when you see the prompt right away.
Among Pixlr’s tools you’ll find many familiar names: Crop, Move, Lasso, Wand, Brush, Erase and many more which are exactly like the ones we’re used to seeing in Photoshop.
All in all, if you’re looking for a free Photoshop alternative, Pixlr can easily be categorized as a really good option. Just note that it’s better for a low to moderate level of photo editing.
Design Wizard is one of the noteworthy options out there to create high quality images without being a professional designer.
It can save a significant amount of time for those of you who are managing blogs, Facebook pages or Instagram accounts and basically everyone who’s in need of producing different sorts of marketing materials.
Design Wizard allows users to build their own templates using photos from the stock photography database which they offer. The database itself is quite diverse and you can easily add value to your designs by making them really look unique.
This platform is also suitable for producing social media graphics, videos, cards and invitations, ads and even book covers. The tools within are intuitively easy to use so it won’t take a long time until you get used to the interface.
It’s important to note that you can lock down certain elements from the design you’re currently making – I personally found this to be a very handy feature.
Except for the Image editor, you can also take advantage of the Video editor – a valuable feature that not many platforms in the same category can offer to their users.
However, there’s also room for improvement as it’s sometimes difficult to tell if the elements in your composition are aligned correctly. It would be great if there was some form of positioning feature to utilize.
In their pricing model, Design Wizard offer subscription plans on a monthly basis – the Pro version is available for $9.99/mo and the Business version is at $49.99/mo. Annual subscription is also an alternative and it could save you up to 25% from the original price.
PicMonkey is an online photo editor – you can get access to it from your web browser or through the application, which is specially designed for mobile devices.
With this software, you’ll be able to create contemporary visuals for cover photos, social media posts and basically all kinds of non-complicated digital assets.
Exposure adjustments, cropping and resizing are some of the basic editing tools that come with PicMonkey.
Alongside these, the editor is capable of performing face edits. You can fix classic problems like removing blemishes and smoothing wrinkles, and on top of that you can also play around with the skin tone, change the lipstick of the model or add an eyeliner.
One of the most significant benefits of PicMonkey is the ability to share designs with other users, which makes collaborating on a project in a real-time environment possible.
PicMonkey users can create shared workspaces where team members can add comments, give valuable feedback or invite other collaborators by sending them either a link or an email.
There’s a 7-day free trial of the platform in case you don’t feel like engaging in one of their paid plans right away. After this period expires, you can purchase the Basic plan for $7.99, the Pro plan for $12.99 or the Team plan for $33.99 which is actually billed at $11.33 per user.
Darktable is an open-source photo editing application and Adobe Photoshop alternative which can also process your RAW files. It was created by photographers for photographers and it’s here to meet the basic challenges which image editing involves.
Some of its current key features include a powerful export system, tethered shooting for some camera brands, non-destructive editing throughout the whole workflow, and advanced colour management.
As a piece of software that’s free of charge, this program does come with major disadvantages. Users complain it often crashes and it also runs a bit slower than its rivals in general. Darktable doesn’t have a mobile version and it’s also not possible at this point to use it online.
The interfaces of Darktable and Lightroom are quite similar, so if you’re a Lightroom user it won’t take long before you start to feel comfortable with this program.
All in all, it’s quite a decent option for beginners and newbies as an alternative to Photoshop, but it’s not that well suited for professional photographers and those of you who are in search of more advanced features.
BeFunky is a simple photo editing app that you can use online. With its help, you’ll be able to do basic photo enhancements and also colour corrections to your pictures.
Good news is that it doesn’t require any registration or account creation prior to using it. So that’s why it’s a great option if you need to do non-complex adjustments and you don’t have much time to get them done.
It also supports the drag and drop feature which speeds up the whole process even more.
In BeFunky, you’ll find all the image editing tools organized in 10 modules on the left-hand side of the photo you’ve uploaded: Image manager, Edit, Touch up, Effects, Artsy, Frames, Graphics, Overlays, Text, Textures.
That being said, the app offers a relatively wide variety of features for an online platform, but there’s one major problem which you’ll encounter pretty much right off the bat: not all of the features are available in the unpaid version.
In fact, the more time you spend in this app, the more you’ll find yourself pressured to take advantage of the paid version as it will be impossible to use quite a few of the features listed.
If you choose to give the paid option a shot, you can choose to pay $6.99 every month or $59.88 once a year.
Fotor is another Photoshop alternative that you can use online. You can also use it as a mobile application or download it to your computer.
Its interface is quite simplified and it’s easy to use. This can be a great advantage for people who are just entering the photography world or people who simply don’t have much time to waste on learning complicated software like Photoshop and Lightroom (it can definitely take you some time to get comfortable with these two).
When you open Fotor for the first time, you’ll be given three different options depending on what you came for – you can edit your photos, make a collage or create a no-sweat design.
If you enter the Edit mode you’ll be able to play around with the basic adjustment options such as Brightness, Sharpness, Contrast or Saturation.
Something important to keep in mind is that Fotor offers support for RAW files, but only if you use the offline/desktop version.
In terms of the pricing, you can opt to pay $8.99 on a monthly basis or get an annual plan for $39.99.
In case you’re unsure if you and Fotor would make a good match, you can explore it through the free trial version first.
11. Capture One Pro
It honestly feels a bit strange to put Capture One Pro in this list, although it is truly a Photoshop alternative (more like Lightroom + Photoshop alternative) and it really is one of the best ones.
The reason I’m saying that is because Capture One is essentially a program for advanced photographers. It’s not so much for newbies.
I remember when I was still in university studying photography, 6-7 years ago. One of our professors used to mention Capture One quite often, saying that it was a really great piece of software and every professional photographer should be aware of it.
At that point I wasn’t listening to these recommendations at all, thinking that it was kind of impossible to have something which was a legit rival to titans like Lightroom and Photoshop.
Well, seven years later I find myself using this program as often as Lightroom and Photoshop. What makes it so worth checking out is the control it offers over the colour grading of your images. The colour editor has no equivalent out there when it comes to precision – for me, it felt like a game-changer right from the start.
It can also create an impressive effect when it comes to adding artificial grain to your photos.
As a whole, it’s a sophisticated software program which definitely has a steeper learning curve than programs like Darktable or GIMP – and you might at first be intimidated by the complexity of it.
If you let go if this initial feeling, you’ll for sure find it to be a remarkable and also very logical program which is absolutely worth exploring.
Capture One Pro just released a new version and a new batch of improvements – it’s now Capture One Pro 20 and you can choose between a subscription model and a one-time cost. You can also take advantage of the free trial period take a look at what it has to offer – get it here.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.