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Free Photoshop alternatives
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13 Free Photoshop Alternatives To Discover This Year

By on November 24th, 2020 Reading Time: 8 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 you have to create banners, product photos, and promotional materials to launch and grow your store—you’ve found yourself in need of a photo editing software.

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

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

Photoshop and Creative Cloud

Adobe-Photoshop-Creative-Cloud-example-screenshot
Source: 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 subscription plans.

Creative Cloud is a marvelous collection of apps for experienced designers and a great investment if you’re planning on expanding your business or employing designers. 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.

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.

If you’re testing the waters and don’t want to invest in Photoshop, or just want to try something a little different, you might be interested in these free alternatives.

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

Use it for: DTG, all-over print, 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 similar to 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 experienced Photoshop users and graphic design rookies.

Price: Free

Platforms: Windows, Browser

File format: PSD, PNG, JPEG, PDF, SVG, GIF

Color space: RGB

PROSCONS
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. Gimp
Photoshop-Alternative-Gimp-example-screenshot

Use it for: DTG, all-over print, 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)

PROSCONS
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. Krita

Krita free graphic software

Use it for: DTG, all-over print, 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 also great for basic photo editing. It does, however, need some getting used to it as it might seem a little complex and hard to understand at the beginning. 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)

PROSCONS
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. InkScape
Photoshop-Alternative-InkScape-example-screenshot

Use it for: DTG, all-over print, embroidery, poster & canvas printing, sublimation, UV printing

If you want to take your designs to new heights, try 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. InkScape’s Measure tools also make it a handy program for creating embroidery designs. But, similar to a few other entries on this list, InkScape has a learning curve.

Price: Free

Platforms: Windows, macOS (using XQuartz), Linux

File format: PDF, EPS, SVG, PNG, PNG

Color space: RGB

PROSCONS
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 savin
    Possible difficulties editing raster files
    Different hotkeys than Photoshop

5. Canva
Photoshop-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, but they cost more than Photoshop itself. It’s great for designing posters. It also lets you post your creations straight to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and other social media platforms. Canva Pro also offers a feature named Brand Kit, which makes branding each graphic exceptionally easy.

Price: Free (Canva Pro 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

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

6. Desygner
Photoshop-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, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. It has a desktop app as well as separate mobile apps (iOS and Android) for more specific design needs. The Desygner premium version offers the Brand Kit feature—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)

PROSCONS
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

PROSCONS
Easy to use
A 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

8. Instasize

Instasize Photoshop alternative

Use it for: Social media and marketing content, photo editing, basic video editing

For creatives who want a Photoshop alternative that caters directly to social media lovers and, even better, fits right in your pocket, Instasize is a popular choice. It has all the basic features you need to polish raw photos, and a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to scroll through and apply every option.

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, iOS

File format: PNG, JPEG, MOV, MP4, HEVC, HEIF  

Color space: RGB, Display P3

PROSCONS
Free to download
Color filters
Text options
Basic video editing (filters and clipping)
Cropping and resizing
Additional content packs require a paid subscription
No beauty tools and video editing on Android

9. Photo Pos Pro

Photo Pos Pro editor

Use it for: Social media and marketing content, photo editing

From simple tasks and editing images to creating artwork from scratch and even designing your own business cards—Photo Pos Pro is the ultimate tool for your marketing campaigns and beautiful social media posts. And all photographers out there will be glad to hear that the editor supports RAW files as well.

Price: Free

Platforms: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 10, MAC with Windows Apps emulator installed

File format: JPG, BMP, PSD, GIF, RAW

Color space: RGB

PROSCONS
Customizable interface for experts or beginners
Editable layers
Supports various file formats
Can create projects from scratch
Many educational tutorials
Limited text designing options
Difficult to start photo editing
Slow work with complex manipulations

10. Paint.NET

paint.net free editing tool

Use it for: Poster & canvas printing, photo editing, social media campaigns

Paint.NET is very easy to learn, so it’s a safe choice for beginners. The tool’s performance is incredible—it’s one of the fastest free image editors out there. The editor also supports plugins, which provide additional image adjustments, effects, and support for additional file types.

Price: Free

Platforms: Windows 

File format: PNG, JPEG, GIF, TGA, TIFF, HEIC

Color space: RGB

PROSCONS
Plugins allow extra functionality
User-friendly interface
Only available on Windows
No project-based interface

11. PIXLR

PIXLR free online editor

Use it for: Social media and marketing content, photo editing

PIXLR was created to make design easy and accessible to everyone regardless of experience. The tool provides a variety of ways for users to edit images. You can dive into deep photo editing sessions or just quickly add some simple filters or stickers to spice up your designs. Discover more opportunities with PIXLR by creating marketing banners, posters, or greeting cards for your business partners.

Price: Free

Platforms: Browser

File format: JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF

Color space: RGB

PROSCONS
Great multi-purpose templates for graphics and ads
Versatile and Lightweight
Has most Photoshop filters
Works with Google Drive
Good amount of features
Lacks drag and drop support
Ads
Not possible to upload raw files
Other tools provide better quality graphics

12. Sumo Paint

Sumo Paint free graphic editor

Use it for: Poster & canvas printing, photo editing, social media images and graphics

Sumo Paint is a completely free online image editing and drawing tool. Perfect for everyone who wants to strengthen and improve their artistic skills and draw their own designs. It’s basically a community for sharing artwork and finding people interested in art.

Price: Free

Platforms: Desktop, Chrome extension

File format: JPG, BMP, PSD, GIF

Color space: RGB

PROSCONS
Has a pixel editing feature
A wide selection of tools
Each tool has a thorough explanation
Allows high-level photo editing
Well-developed tools for digital drawing
Desktop version
Imperfect text management
Some tools can lag

13. FireAlpaca

FireAlpaca free graphic tool

Use it for: Illustrations

This free digital painting software is a great tool for everyone who loves to create illustrations. Change brushes, create your own patterns, and even use comic templates in your illustration designs. The 3D Perspective tool allows you to create realistic-looking objects. And the best part about FireAlpaca—it’s extremely easy to use.

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac, Windows

File format: JPG, PNG, MDP

PROSCONS
Available in 10 languages
A simple interface and straightforward navigations
Has a brush stabilizer, for smooth lines
Layer folders for easy organizing
Has all the same shortcuts as photoshop
Easily make your own brushes and adjust brush settings
Canvas limit of 10000×10000 
No hardness/softness adjust for the brush
Brushes and palettes must all be loaded in one at a time
No liquify tool

Which option is the best for me?

 
Photopea
Gimp
Krita
InkScape
Canva
Desygner
Pablo
Instasize
PhotoPos
Paint.NET
PIXLR
SumoPaint
FireAlpaca
Free
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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.

For more info on print requirements, be sure to check out our blog on preparing the perfect print file. If you have a hard time figuring out color spaces, what they mean, and what’s best for your designs, read our guide to color systems.

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, and 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 worry, I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions. And, if you want to be sure about design quality, you can always hire a professional—our designers know what’s best for Printful fulfillment. I wish you the best of luck with your creative adventures!

This article was originally published in April 2019; it has since been updated.

Sintija is an SEO content specialist at Printful. Along with her team, she helps to create the best possible landing pages and SEO-friendly content.

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  1. ramsagar

    personally i always use pixlr, but since pixlr is not working on mobile i use photopea and another one is https://www.toolpic.com which i want to link to you which is also very much popular as i don’t find this on your list. Do check it out.

      1. Jason Silverio

        I would give Affinity’s suite a huge thumbs up as well. The three programs only cost $50 each and do everything the creative suite can do, and much more, I have found. I’m not sure I’ll ever use Adobe creative suite again.

  2. Lisa

    I noticed that I’d like to bookmark your article and I”m thinking about Photopea. I feel It will be the same for Photopha if I take a lesson about how Photoshop works.

    1. Alise Zindiga

      Thank you for your suggestion. We haven’t tried Photopea ourselves, but please feel free to share your feedback with the community here if you have the experience.

      1. Lisa

        Thank you very much. I’ve had a lot of experience with Photopea, so I use it, and my efforts to use it appear to be user-friendly. I can edit and save Adobe Photoshop (PSD) files, Gimp (XCF) files, and Sketch (Sketch App) files without using any plug-ins. The most amazing thing that I said is, with Photopea, I can do the same things I do in Photoshop. But the difference is. It’s just through a web browser and not stand-alone software. I think many will benefit from a little discussion of this topic here. https://www.quora.com/What-are-free-online-tools-that-can-do-the-same-things-as-Photoshop/answer/Biju-Toha

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