The 9 best alternatives to Photoshop

05. Pixlr

Pixlr comes with more than 600 effects
  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Price: Free

Pixlr claims to be "the most popular online photo editor in the world", which may have something to do with the fact that it's free. But it also boasts more than 600 effects, overlays, and borders and lets you do all the main things you'd expect from a photo editor, from cropping and re-sizing to removing red-eye and whitening teeth.

And if you're used to using Photoshop, then you'll find Pixlr's user interface easy to pick up quickly, as it's very similar. This free app is available in both iOS and Android varieties.

06. Acorn

Alternative to Photoshop Acorn

Acorn's new update includes the addition of non-destructive filters
  • Platform: Mac OS X
  • Price: $24.99

Image editing software Acorn debuted back in 2007 and has provided hobbyists and artists on a budget with a great, affordable alternative to Photoshop ever since.

Features of the software include layer styles, non-destructive filters, curves and levels, blending modes and much more.

07. Corel PaintShop Pro

Alternative to Photoshop PaintShop Pro

PaintShop Pro: a Photoshop alternative that benefits from a streamlined and slick interface
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: $65.99 (standard), $84.99 (Ultimate)

Brought to you by the same software house that produces Painter, Paintshop Pro is a long-standing alternative to Photoshop that offers a huge range of photo-editing and graphics creation tools.

There's support for layers here, and a complete suite of tools for editing, colour correcting, cloning and 'makeover' of photos, but you'll also find sophisticated art media tools with realistic brush effects and a range of vector options.

Paintshop Pro also supports Photoshop brushes, allowing you to considerably extend the built-in library of tools. The latest version, X7, promises "30% faster" brushes and new text and shape cutting tools.

08. Paint.net

Alternative to Photoshop Paint net

For photo editing, free Windows tool Paint.net is an excellent alternative to Photoshop
  • Platform: Windows
  • Price: Free

Paint.net is a Windows-based alternative to the Paint editor that Microsoft shipped with versions of Windows. Don't let that put you off, though, as it's a surprisingly capable and useful tool, available completely free of charge. The software started out life as a Microsoft-sponsored undergraduate project, and has become an open source project maintained by some of the alumni.

The focus is on ease of use, and there's a definite tendancy towards photo editing rather than artistic creation. That said, there are a range of special effects available, allowing you to easily create fake perspective, blend and push pixels around the canvas, tile and repeat selections, and so on.

A good range of selection tools, support for layers, and adjustments such as curves and brightness/contrast mean that Paint.net is a great alternative to Photoshop for photo editing, especially if you can do without some of the more recent additions to Photoshop's toolset.

09. Sumopaint

Alternatives to Photoshop Sumopaint

Sumopaint works in the browser, and requires Adobe Flash to use
  • Platform: Browser or iPad
  • Price: Free for basic online version, $4/month for pro version, £1.49 for iPad app

Sumopaint is a highly capable, free browser-based image editor. All the standard features you'd expect from a desktop tool are present and correct. It's lightweight and quick to load, and the free version is very usable. There's also a paid-for pro version and a paid-for iPad app.

The standard range of tools and adjustments you'd expect are all included. Brushes, pencils, shapes, text, cloning, gradients, etc are all quickly accessed from the Photoshop-esque floating toolbar. It can also open saved documents from your hard drive, making Sumopaint a perfectly viable option for editing and reediting.

Some tools work in different ways to Photoshop, offering possibilities that would be difficult to match in Adobe's offering. There are, however, limitations that will put off some users.

Words: Sam Hampton-Smith

This is an updated version of an article previously published on Creative Bloq. Did we miss your favourite image editing tool? Let us know what to add to a future update in the comments.

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