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7 Best Free Adobe Photoshop Alternatives

By on April 2nd, 2019 Reading Time: 6 minutes

You’ve done your market research, decided on the perfect theme for your brand and made plans to take the world by storm! But suddenly you realize there are banners, product photos, and promotional material you need to create to launch and grow your store – you’ve found yourself in a need of a photo editing software.

If you’ve heard of Photoshop, you’re probably also aware that it’s quite an investment. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of free alternatives to Photoshop. I’ve spoken with the Printful graphics team, and we’ve come up with a list of options suited for both graphic editing newcomers and seasoned Photoshop users.

So, if you’re looking to reimagine your ideas as a design, showcase your products on your store, or promote them on your blog and social media accounts, we’ve got you covered!

But, before diving in, let’s explore Photoshop.

Photoshop and Creative Cloud

Adobe-Photoshop-Creative-Cloud-example-screenshotSource: Adobe Blogs

Adobe Photoshop is an industry-leading raster (pixel-based) image editor used to create unique graphics and edit photos. It’s packed with many useful tools for resizing, color adjusting, and retouching images. Photoshop used to be a program you could buy from Adobe and use to your heart’s content. But since 2013, it’s a part of a monthly subscription-based service – Creative Cloud. Photoshop is included in multiple plans starting with Photography plan ($9.99/month).

Creative Cloud is a marvelous software for experienced designers and is a great investment if you’re planning on expanding your business or employing a designer team. Creative Cloud offers many useful features like storing and sharing your projects and even working on them at the same time. It’s the perfect graphic design environment.

If you’re a casual user or a total newcomer to graphic editing, Creative Cloud could seem overwhelming or impractical. That’s because even the slightest change to an image – like a decoration on a sales banner – or even just opening software-specific files like .psd (Photoshop Data file) requires a subscription to access the editing software.

So, if you’re testing the waters and don’t want to invest in Photoshop or have experience using Photoshop and want to try something a little different,
you might be interested in free Photoshop alternatives.

1. Photopea
Photoshop-Alternative-Photopea-example-screenshot

Use it for: DTG, Cut&Sew, Poster & Canvas printing, Sublimation, UV printing, Photo editing, Social media graphics

This might be the Swiss army knife of free alternatives to Photoshop. Not only does it look like Photoshop, it also has many of its features. Photopea offers pre-made sizes and templates for posters and social media graphics. All in all, it’s the perfect software for both Photoshop users and total graphic design newcomers.

Price: Free
Platforms: Windows, Browser
File Format: .PSD, .PNG, .JPEG, .PDF, .SVG, .GIF
Color Space: RGB

PROS CONS
  • Multifunctional
  • Multiple languages
  • Pre-sized templates
  • Online and downloadable
  • Same hotkeys as Photoshop
  • Similar to Photoshop in layout and tools provided
    (transparent background, measuring tool, adjustment layers etc.)
  • Exports files in vector formats
  • Suitable for fixing most common issues with print files
  • Small delay on the Brush tool
  • Ruler provided only in .px
  • Doesn’t include common fonts like Arial, Verdana, and Georgia
  • Online version requires an internet connection – files won’t save if the browser crashes

2. GimpPhotoshop-Alternative-Gimp-example-screenshot

Use it for: DTG, Cut&Sew, Poster & Canvas printing, Sublimation, UV printing, Photo editing

No list of free Photoshop alternatives would be complete without Gimp. This software has established a strong presence in the graphics editing world and has built a strong community. It’s the perfect software for editing small files and creating simple designs.

Price: Free
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux
File Format: .PSD, .JPEG, .PNG, .GIF, .PDF, .EPS
Color Space: RGB, CMYK (only with a plugin)

PROS CONS
  • Multifunctional
  • Multiple languages
  • Pre-sized templates
  • Document history
  • Text filters and effects (e.g. Warp)
  • A large community that offers support
  • Many tutorials online
  • A little slow
  • Different UI than Photoshop
  • Different hotkeys than Photoshop
  • White residue around designs with transparent background
  • The Brush tool isn’t very smooth
  • Isn’t suited for professional designers

3. KritaPhotoshop-Alternative-Krita-example-screenshot

Use it for: DTG, Cut&Sew, Poster & Canvas printing, Sublimation, UV printing, Photo editing

Krita is the only raster graphic software on the list suited for creating seamless all-over print patterns. It’s great for basic photo editing, It does, however, need some getting used to. Since it’s made with artists in mind, it has a highly customizable Brush tool and can be linked to graphics tablets.

Price: Free
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux
File Format: .PNG, .PSD, .JPEG
Color Space: RGB, CMYK (see Color Managed Workflow for Print)

PROS CONS
  • Multifunctional
  • Multiple languages
  • Wraparound tool
    (perfect for creating seamless patterns)
  • Great Brush tool with multiple customization options
    (works with graphics tablets)
  • Easy hotkeys that can be changed
  • Very thorough manual
  • Lags when working with very large files
  • Lags when opening RAW photo files
  • Text tool that needs getting used to
  • Different UI than Photoshop

4. InkScapePhotoshop-Alternative-InkScape-example-screenshot

Use it for: DTG, Cut&Sew, Embroidery, Poster & Canvas printing, Sublimation, UV printing

If you want to take things to the next level, I suggest checking out vector editing software. As such, InkScape is a handy program for creating print files of any size. That’s because vectors are made of objects such as lines, curves, and polygons and designs created on vector editors can be resized without damaging their quality. This means that each design made on InkScape can serve both for small prints – a personal brand image on an inside label – as well as bigger ones – posters or canvas. IncScapes Measure tools also make it a handy program for creating embroidery designs. InkScape has no size limit and even offers options on tweaking your document file. But, similar to programs like Photoshop, it has a learning curve.

Price: Free
Platforms: Windows, macOS (using XQuartz), Linux
File Format: .PDF, .EPS, .SVG, .PNG, .PNG
Color Space: RGB

PROS CONS
  • Multiple languages
  • Trace Bitmap tool (transforms pixel-based images to vector designs)
  • Great Measure tool
    (useful when making embroidery designs)
  • Great Brush tool
  • Text effects (Warp, Bend, Distort, Convert to a path)
  • Custom DPI when saving
  • Possible difficulties editing raster files
  • Different hotkeys than Photoshop

5. CanvaPhotoshop-Alternative-Canva-example-screenshot

Use it for: Social media graphics, Poster & Canvas printing

Canva might not be the most obvious choice of Photoshop alternatives, yet it’s a useful platform for any designer. Their free toolkit is quite extensive and their paid plans offer even more editing possibilities. It’s great for designing posters. It also lets you post your creations straight to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and others. Canva for Work also offers a feature named Brand kit, which makes branding each graphic exceptionally easy.

Price: Free (Canva for Work is $12.95/month)
Platforms: Online Browser, Also available for iOS and Android
File Format: .JPEG, .PDF, .PNG (transparent background only available with paid plan)
Color Space: RGB

PROS CONS
  • Easy to use
  • Multifunctional
  • Multiple languages
  • Wide selection of templates, from prints to social media
  • Library for storing designs and photos
  • Canva for Work has a 30-day free trial
  • Useful tools (e.g. Brand kit, Resizing, Transparent background) locked behind a paywall
  • Limited choice of fonts

6. DesygnerPhotoshop-Alternative-Desygner-example-screenshot

Use it for: Social media graphics, Poster & Canvas printing

Desygner is an online platform, which is great for creating poster designs and social media graphics – you can post designs straight to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. It has a desktop app as well as separate mobile apps (iOS and Android) for more specific design needs. Desygner Premium offers the Brand kit feature which is a great tool for establishing a uniform style for each created graphic.

Price: Free (Desygner Premium is $9.99/month)
Platforms: Online Browser, Also available for iOS and Android
File Format: .JPEG, .PNG, .PDF
Color Space: RGB, CMYK (only available in .PDF)

PROS CONS
  • Easy to use
  • Multifunctional
  • Multiple languages
  • Wide choice of templates
  • Library for storing designs
  • Wide selection of images and graphics
  • Free Resize tool
  • Free Design apps with Desygner Premium
  • Useful tools (e.g. Brand kit, PDF editing) locked behind a paywall
  • Limited choice of fonts
  • No warning about decrease in file quality
  • Few social media integrations

7. Pablo

Photoshop-Alternative-Pablo-by-Buffer-example-screenshot

Use it for: Social media graphics

Pablo by Buffer is a great starting point for a social media and graphic design newbie – it’s completely free! The program lets you post your creations straight to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Feel free to play around with Pablo’s design options, but remember that it’s not meant for making print designs!

Price: Free
Platforms: Online Browser, Also available as Google Chrome extension
File Format: .PNG

PROS CONS
  • Easy to use
  • Wide selection of images
    (provided by Unsplash)
  • Linkable to Buffer account for faster social media scheduling
  • Suited only for social media graphics
  • Limited template selection
  • Limited choice of fonts
  • Few social media integrations
  • Only 72 DPI

Which option is the best for me?

 
Photopea
Gimp
Krita
InkScape
Canva
Desygner
Pablo
Free
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
No paid features
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
Easy to use
✔️
✔️
✔️
Good for print designs
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
Good for photo editing
✔️
✔️
✔️
Good for social media graphics
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️

Creating print files

If you’re looking for a software for creating print designs, look no further than Photopea, Gimp, Krita, and InkScape. Check out Canva and Desygner for making poster and canva designs.

Our graphics team also recommends ordering color swatches and checking out our color correction tutorial. For more details, be sure to read our color matching disclaimer.

For more info on print requirements, be sure to check out our blogs on Everything You Need to Know to Prepare the Perfect Print File and RGB vs CMYK: Guide to Color Systems. Don’t forget to read Printful File guidelines under each product to see which formats and sizes will work the best in each case!

Photo editing

For editing pictures for your online store and blog, use Krita, Photopea, or Gimp.

Social Media Graphics

To create engaging social media content, it’s best to use Canva, Desygner, Photopea, or Pablo.

Final Thoughts

The first step is to determine what you want the software to do. When that’s done, choose the programs you want to try out and play around. If you wish to see the software in action, check out our video on the top 5 free graphic design apps—find the best fit for you!

If, however, you want a well rounded free Photoshop alternative, I’d suggest Photopea – it can be used as a design tool, has a set of social media templates and has the same adjustment layer and photo editing tool options as Adobe Photoshop.

By now you’re probably either ready to dive into the vast world of photo editing or more confused than ever. If it’s the latter, don’t you worry, I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions. And, if all fails, you can always hire a professionalour designers know what’s best for Printful fulfillment. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors!

Gundega makes sure to know at least a little bit of everything. And to pet any willing cat in close proximity, even though she's allergic.

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  1. aura

    Nice thanks!

    Besides Inkscape, what other free / affordable paid vector tools are recommended?

    Can you do a post on that too? Thanks

    1. Gundega Vjakse Post author

      Thank you for the idea, I will look into it!

      Personally, I would consider using Affinity Designer. It’s not a free program, but, compared to Adobe Illustrator, seems quite affordable, and has included the essential vector graphic tools.
      I would also try out Gravit Designer, which seems like a good free alternative.

  2. Stephen Wharton

    Thank you for this review. It is always difficult to know what is out there that can help you with your design work, as most information is about “what alternatives are there to Photoshop”, rather than some solid information on comparing features. I have a (probably stupid) mistrust of Adobe for the last several years as I often have to use Acrobat when I do estimating in my civil engineering profession. I think it has gone backwards in some respects so it has left me with a bad feeling about Adobe. (Developer geeks don’t always think like normal people).
    So I have been using InkScape and love that it is quite like some expensive design drafting software that I know a little about. (Microstation and AutoCad). So I picked up on using some of its features quite quickly and there are a plethora of awesome video tutorials. Even so though; I reckon I know about 2% of its capabilities. It all boils down to becoming an expert with the software by spending more study time, or getting in and using it as well as you can on the understanding that you will make blunders and get frustrated sometimes. (I have opted for the second strategy and I have produced some great graphics that I am proud of). Gimp and Canva I know about and use occasionally but Photopea sounds like it could be good for my design work AND my “real” job where I have to do a lot of reporting with photos and I might be able to get better quality results. Cheers and thank you again.

    1. Gundega Vjakse Post author

      I’m glad you found this useful!

      Personally, I do agree with the hands-on approach to learning—frustration often leads to new and unique solutions, so I applaud you for just having a go at it and exploring.

      As for reporting—I’d suggest taking a look at Canva’s templates for Daily Reports, Infographics and Mind Maps. They also have great options for Presentation designs and, for mostly visual reports, you could also use Storyboards.

      Good luck!

  3. Nuno Tuna

    Affinity Photo seems a more than good option too. Based on what I’ve seen it seems to be the most similar to Photoshop in every aspect except in price. For around 50$ you get a super intuitive, production driven, pro quality software.

    1. Gundega Vjakse Post author

      That’s right, both Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer are great alternatives to Photoshop and Illustrator.

      However, there are some tools that Affinity lacks when compared to Adobe. For example, Affinity Photo doesn’t provide a Magnetic and Polygonal lasso selection tools. As for Affinity Designer, it seems to have included the essential tools for vector graphic programs, yet not as much as Adobe Illustrator—Image Tracing tool, for example.

      All in all, if you have decided to invest in graphic design software, Affinity is a good choice.

      Thank you for this suggestion!

  4. Luis

    Can I use any of these from my iPhone? Call me Lame but I don’t have a computer lol want to create some better tee mock ups. Trying to work with what I’ve got at the moment. Thanks

    1. Gundega Vjakse Post author

      Photopea can be opened in any browser, so you shouldn’t have any problems operating it through your mobile browser as well. However, I would advise to try and explore it on desktop first, so it does not seem overwhelming when using on phone. Perhaps there is a local library, internet café or a friend you could ask for access to a computer. If you have any previous experience with Photoshop, Photopea will be very easy to understand. If not, don’t worry—there are also video tutorials on how to operate Photopea, and some include specific instructions for mobile users too!

      As for apps, Canva and Desygner are available both on the App Store and Google Play. Desygner also has multiple mobile apps for more specific design needs, although some are only available on Google Play. Both can also be opened using any mobile browser, so don’t worry if something is not available on the apps.

      If you only want to use design software for creating better mockups, I suggest looking into Placeit. Their service could save you loads of struggle, and many of our users have suggested this service as a good alternative.

      Good luck!

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