This may or may not come as a surprise but Adobe’s extremely popular Photoshop package is not the only image editor available in the market today. Whenever we see an image of a celebrity appearing online that looks too good to be true our immediate reaction is that the image has been “Photoshopped.” It’s this immediate cognitive reaction that suggests that Adobe could have the image editing market pretty much cornered on all platforms. If you happen to be one of those individuals who doesn’t like to follow the crowd then carry on reading for a selection of free or low cost alternatives to the institution that is Adobe Photoshop.
Pixelmator (Mac / $29.99)
Pixelmator is a full-featured, layer-based image editing app designed specifically with Apple’s OS X Platform in mind. The beautifully designed interface is the gateway to an easy-to-use, powerful image editing tool that goes way above and beyond what you’d probably expect for an app in this price range. By building and developing Pixelmator from the ground up – with the Mac in mind – the engineering team behind the app have been able to utilize the latest OS X technologies and features that even Apple itself is extremely proud of. The app’s extremely powerful vector tools allow for the creation of stunning compositions, including – but not limited to – logos, full Web layouts and bespoke posters. Combine this with layer styles, custom effects, powerful image processing, a unique and stunning painting engine, plus much much more and you get a fantastic Photoshop alternative for the Mac, priced at $29.99.
You can download Pixelmator from: pixelmator.com
GIMP (Windows, Mac, Linux / FREE)
GIMP is probably one of the more well-known Photoshop alternatives built specifically for Microsoft’s Windows platform. The versatile graphics manipulation package is freely distributed and comes with a fairly decent set of features for image manipulation considering it’s offered free-of-charge. The customizable interface has been built to ensure that users can have the correct view and behavioral traits to complete the task at hand. Themes can be applied to widgets, which brings with it differences in spacings, colors and layouts. GIMP also offers powerful built-in tools for enhancing those treasured photos as well as offering advanced retouching capabilities. Hardware support for multiple third-party devices is offered, as is extensive support for all common file types. GIMP is offered as a free-of-charge download for Mac, Windows and Linux.
You can download GIMP from: gimp.org
Affinity Photo (Mac / FREE)
Affinity Photo is essentially the “new kid on the block” and is currently being offered as a beta by Serif (Europe) Ltd. The package has been built exclusively for the Mac with the aim of offering high-quality, professional photo editing tools that have been imagined and crafted by passionate artists and programmers. Affinity Photo promises to offer the ability to take images “beyond professional adjustment and correction” by utilizing instant redraw functionality amongst a set of powerful tools and editing functions. One of the great things about Affinity Photo is the fact that the engineering team has focused on offering quality and speed over bundling in tools for the sake of adding tools. As previously mentioned, Affinity Photo is the latest editing package offered by Serif (Europe) Ltd. for the Mac and is currently in its beta phase.
You can download Affinity Photo from: affinity.serif.com/photo/
Pixlr Editor (Web)
Pixlr is yet another well-known tool that had been available via the web for quite some time before garnishing the interest of the behemoth Autodesk. Pixlr is actually offered as a family of online apps with Pixlr Editor being the most popular. The Editor online suite brings with it full control over layers and effects, as well as offering a robust architecture for stability. The sophisticated tools contained within should be suitable to professionals and amateurs alike thanks to the easy-to-use tools such as layers, lasso tools, multiple brush controls, filters and cloning capabilities. Pixlr Editor also offers integration with third-party services such as Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. Pixlr Editor is offered as a free to use Web app by Autodesk.
You can access Pixlr Editor by pointing your Web browser to: apps.pixlr.com/editor/
Sketch 3 (Mac / $99)
Sketch 3 by Bohemian Coding acts as a professional digital design package forged exclusively for the Mac. The power, flexibility and speed of the package succeeds in setting it apart from other options available on OS X, as well as the fact that it is extremely lightweight, easy-to-use and has a design focus almost written within its DNA. Creating complex vector shapes is a breeze with the built-in tools, as is creating and managing layers and groups. The latest version of Sketch also ships with a full reimagined Inspector playground that allows total control over every aspect of design, such as positioning, dimensions, color modes and blending. Considered as a “must have” design tool for the Mac, Sketch 3 is available as a $99 purchase.
You can download Sketch 3 from: bohemiancoding.com/sketch/
Paint.NET (Windows / FREE)
Paint.NET is a no nonsense image editor for Windows, and supports all the key features such as layers, special effects, unlimited number of undo commands, and to top things off, it’s fairly powerful. The team behind Paint.NET started off with a project which aimed to replace the stock Microsoft Paint app in Windows, but over time they realized that they can push things further, and have landed onto the platform where many other professional image editing suites sit. Paint.NET is absolutely free to download and is available for the Windows platform.
You can download Paint.NET from: getpaint.net
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