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7 Best Free Adobe Photoshop Alternatives

By 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-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 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

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, 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)

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
Photoshop-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)

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, 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

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 saving
  • 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. It’s great for designing posters. It also lets you post your creations straight to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and others. 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
  • 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, 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)

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
  • 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 design
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
✔️
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, as well as watch our Top 10 Tips for a Perfect Design Print File video. 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. 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.

  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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