Adobe Photoshop might be the industry-standard photo editing software. However, the incredibly high prices Adobe charges can be unreasonable for most artists and designers. That’s especially true when they’re just starting to hone their craft. Hence, people usually look for Photoshop alternatives to meet their photo-editing needs. If you’re looking for Photoshop alternatives, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our list of the 20 best Photoshop alternatives in 2021 and we’ve specifically selected services that are either free or reasonably priced.
20 Best Photoshop Alternatives in 2021
Acorn is one of the top Photoshop alternatives Mac users choose to meet their photo-editing needs. The software is best known for its text-on-a-path tool that can seamlessly follow different paths and shapes. Moreover, it’s a very beginner-friendly photo editor that’s easy to use even if you’ve never used Photoshop before.
The app has all the basic photo-editing features you might need like brush designers, layer masks, and filters. Moreover, the app is incredibly versatile and incorporates vector tools on top of the raster-based photo-editing features. It’s easy to use if you’re in a pinch and it’s powerful enough to cover your basic needs.
Moreover, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and only charges a one-time fee of $29.99. However, the app is only available on macOS so Windows, Linux, and mobile users have to skip this one.
2. Affinity Photo
OS: macOS | Windows | iPadOS
Price: $49.99 (desktop), $19.99 (iPad)
One of the biggest alternatives to Photoshop is undoubtedly Affinity Photo. In fact, the entire Affinity suite provides handy alternative tools to Adobe’s most prominent apps. Affinity Photo is their Photoshop alternative — and it’s just as powerful despite being more lightweight. The app is stable and doesn’t crash very often all while providing fast rendering times and snappy performance.
Affinity Photo is also incredibly versatile, offering unlimited layers, a healing brush, 1,000,000% zoom, and more. Moreover, the app also boasts a powerful RAW editing engine and provides all the effects you might want in Photoshop. Other Photoshop alternatives might not even come close to its undo/redo of up to 8K steps prior. Lastly, folks who are switching from Photoshop will be happy to find the same keyboard commands work here, too.
Affinity Photo is available on both macOS and Windows so nearly everyone can enjoy its features. Moreover, with iPads gaining more prominence, you can also edit on the go with the iPad version. It only costs $49.99 on the desktop and $19.99 on the iPad. The app also comes with frequent unlimited updates from Affinity free of charge.
OS: macOS | Windows | iOS | Android
Price: $47.00 (desktop), $29.90 (Lite version), $2.99 (mobile)
Photoshop alternatives might come with top-of-the-line photo-editing features. However, these days, people don’t use Photoshop solely for photo editing. In fact, many folks use the program to create digital paintings and drawings thanks to its powerful brush engine. As a result, Photoshop alternatives need to also have amazing brush and painting tools to create beautiful digital art.
That is precisely where ArtRage comes in. The app offers lots of cool brushes, including realistic pencils, watercolor, oils, and even canvas textures. Moreover, the app boasts many tools that emulate traditional media — and they’re even customizable.
Apart from this, ArtRage also uses a minimalist interface to ensure that you’re fully focused on your illustration. The interface disappears when you get closer to the edges and reappears automatically otherwise. Thanks to its illustration-first approach, it’s one of the best Photoshop alternatives for digital artists. Moreover, it has a free trial demo version in case you want to try things out first before diving in.
OS: Web | iOS | Android
Price: Free, $9.99 monthly (Pro), $29.80 monthly per person (Enterprise)
Purchasing an expensive piece of software just to create simple graphics seems a bit like overkill. That’s why web-based Photoshop alternatives like Canva exist. Canva is relatively new and it’s a pretty simple image-editing tool. The app is easy enough to use that anyone new to graphic design can jump straight in. How? The app already provides thousands of templates, design elements, layouts, and stock resources to help you out. Canva also has tons of free fonts, layouts, and graphics that you can easily plug and play into your design.
Moreover, the app is completely free to use, but you do have to pay for premium elements. However, this fee is relatively minor and won’t cost much compared to purchasing stock images from other websites. Whether you’re starting a small business, running a blog, or making graphics for social media, Canva can do the job. Moreover, there are also pro and enterprise versions that provide more elements and features, among other things.
Price: Free trial, $5.99 monthly ($47.88 yearly)
Another one of the best Photoshop alternatives is Colorcinch. It’s an affordable web-based tool that provides creators of all kinds access to pro-level tools. The app has high-quality photo-editing features, over 50,000 vector icons, graphics, and even provides tons of effects/filters.
With it, designers can edit, create, and publish any kind of graphic they want. The tool even has a cartoonizer feature that adds a stunning cartoony effect to your photos and graphics. It can also transform photos fairly easily into digital sketches with just one click of a button. Moreover, because the interface is easy to use, even newbie graphic artists can use it with a relatively small learning curve.
Unfortunately, the only downside is that some effects and filters are only available on the pro version. Hence, free plan users might need to stick with limited customization features to get the job done.
6. Corel PaintShop Pro
Price: Trial version, $63.99 (base price), $79.99 (Paintshop Pro Ultimate)
Corel is one of the most prominent names in the digital art space — and for good reason. That’s because it’s one of the best Photoshop alternatives out there, especially since Corel released a new version in 2020. The new and improved Corel Paintshop Pro incorporates even RAW and HDR editing this time. Moreover, it has a robust set of tools complete with brushes, masks, layers, and customizable workspaces.
In addition, Corel is perfect for those looking for a more affordable solution that doesn’t require a monthly subscription. Corel and the Pro Ultimate version are available for a one-time fee. However, the only downside is that it’s a Windows-only app, so Mac and mobile users can’t access it.
OS: Windows | macOS
If you’re looking for Photoshop alternatives free of charge, then look no further than FireAlpaca. This cute little software is designed to provide digital painting hobbyists access to tools to easily create beautiful artwork. The app, being free, incorporates simple graphic design tools and templates to help get you started.
Moreover, the app also has various viewing options, including a 3D view option, to better visualize your creation. The app also includes blur, pencil, airbrush, and other tools to help artists express themselves freely and without hindrance. However, don’t expect FireAlpaca to provide all the complex tools Photoshop has. That’s because it’s a simple tool — but that also comes with its benefits, such as a tiny learning curve.
OS: Web | iOS | Android
Price: Trial version, $8.99 monthly (or $39.99 yearly)
Fotor is one of the best Photoshop alternatives, not just because it’s cheap but also because it’s versatile. The app can live on any device you have, whether that’s a Windows PC, a Macbook, or even a smartphone. That’s because Fotor is a web-based application that you can take with you anywhere there’s an internet connection.
It markets itself as an “online Photoshop” that provides photo-editors access to powerful tools on the go. With Fotor, you can add filters, retouch photos, and add AI photo effects to any image you want. Moreover, it’s also available in several different languages so it’s very versatile for multinational users. However, the web-based app isn’t free and only includes a trial version for new users. Afterward, you’ll need to pay $8.99 monthly to use the app.
OS: Windows | GNU/Linux | macOS
Photoshop alternatives usually have a dedicated user-base, but you can hardly find one with as many enthusiasts as GIMP. Why? That’s because GIMP is a powerful free tool available on multiple operating systems. The app allows designers to edit photos, create graphics, and even create digital illustrations if they so desire.
Moreover, the app supports different codes for developers that need to incorporate their designs within websites. It also has tons of customization options that make it a more flexible app compared to its alternatives. Furthermore, the app provides a versatile editing experience, complete with a customizable interface and various photo-editing features.
However, GIMP isn’t the sexiest app out there and its interface looks a bit dated. Nonetheless, it’s a great tool if you’re looking for something completely free but still very powerful. It’s also an open-source tool, making it great if you want to make community contributions to the app.
OS: macOS | Windows | Linux
One of the best Photoshop alternatives for painting and digital illustrations is undoubtedly Krita. Despite being a free, open-source platform, Krita provides professional tools to digital artists who want to bring ideas to life. In fact, TechRadar rated it as the top 1 best free painting software in 2019 — and it’s understandable why.
With Krita, users can access over 100 brushes, nine brush engines, brush stabilizers, and more. Krita focuses a lot on its brushwork, and as a result, drawing and painting on the app feel natural. Moreover, it’s the best alternative to GIMP if you want something more lightweight and intuitive to use.
Lastly, Krita is also compatible with various operating systems and is completely free to use. However, unlike GIMP, Krita doesn’t have all the heavy photo-editing features you might find in Photoshop.
OS: macOS | Windows
Price: $47 (master version), $87 (expert version), $146 (guru version)
Luminar is another one of the best Photoshop alternatives available in the market. While it’s not exactly cheap, the app has some impressive features that just might make you look its way. For one, the app is a powerful photo editor that uses AI and machine learning to produce stunning images. Designers don’t even need to think and just need to press a couple of tools to get the job done.
The most notable AI-based feature includes intelligent sky replacement, intelligent portrait creation, skin enhancement, sunrays, and more. On the other hand, Luminar also has handy lighting, structure, and contrast features to help preserve color and texture. It can also intelligently and seamlessly remove objects from a photo to reduce clutter.
Moreover, Luminar is also available as a plug-in for Adobe products. Hence, you can use it as standalone software or in conjunction with Photoshop. The app is intuitive and easy to use, making it a powerful and efficient app for pros.
Windows users looking for free Photoshop alternatives might want to take a look at Paint.NET. This app is a great image editor that Microsoft itself shipped with various Windows versions. Despite being free, the app is relatively capable and useful.
It’s a bit reminiscent of Microsoft paint, but it’s certainly more powerful and versatile. The app’s interface is familiar and simple, with simple tools for photo editing at your disposal. You can access various special effects, blend or manipulate pixels, repeat tiles, and more. Moreover, unlike paint, the app supports layers and various adjustment tools such as curves, brightness, etc. If you’re looking for a simple free photo editor, Paint.NET is a promising option.
Price: Free with ads
Another one of the best Photoshop alternatives available is Photopea. The app is a cross-platform, web-based application that allows users to easily edit images. Its tools might be less advanced than Photoshop but it executes editing professionally with the tools it does offer.
The app offers all the basic tools you might want to find on a decent photo editor. For example, it has support for layers, masks, blend modes, and offers a plethora of selection tools.
In terms of the interface, Photoshop users might feel right at home with Photopea because of its similar layout. The common tools you might want are where you’d expect them to be in Adobe Photoshop. Moreover, the app supports standard image-editing formats like PNG, JPG, and even RAW. The app is also versatile because it can edit not only PSD files but GIMP and Sketch files as well.
However, the only problem with this free app is that it contains ads. If you don’t like that, then you can subscribe to the premium version that removes them. This premium version also offers additional features, such as more undo levels. Overall, Photopea might not be the most powerful editor out there, but it’s one of the best free Photoshop alternatives.
14. Photos Pos Pro
OS: macOS (via emulation) | Windows
Photos Pos Pro is a great image editor with an extensive set of features that can go up against Photoshop. The app can enhance photos, create digital artwork, and has an easy-to-use interface that lowers the learning curve. Moreover, there’s even a “novice” layout for image-editing beginners. Likewise, there’s also an “expert” layout for folks who are more familiar with image editors as well.
However, the app does have some downsides. For example, the app can run slowly from time to time and has a limited export file size. Nonetheless, it’s a great app to use when you need something powerful. Above all, Photos Pos Pro is a free app for Windows users and can also run on macOS through emulation.
Price: Trial version, $114
User-friendly and powerful, PhotoWorks is shaping up to be one of the best Photoshop alternatives in the market. The app is a great tool for both beginners and professionals and provides the tools you need for photo editing. This includes an AI engine that can intelligently and seamlessly alter and edit landscapes and portraits.
Moreover, the app supports RAW image editing as well as a range of other tools to add life to images. It’s also very lightweight, making it a perfect alternative for designers that don’t have a powerful computer. Furthermore, the editing is non-destructive, adding effects and adjustments that are easily retractable.
However, the app doesn’t support the PSD file format and doesn’t include drawing tools for digital illustrators. Moreover, it’s only available on Windows and is expensive to use after the free trial is up.
Price: Trial version, $7.99 monthly
If you liked Canva, then PicMonkey should be on your shortlist for the best Photoshop alternatives. That’s because this image editing tool is very much like Canva. It’s web-based and provides tons of digital templates and assets to help novices get started on simple graphic design.
PicMonkey also has tons of other features like masks, layers, retouching features, and effects. It has all the basic tools you might need for photo editing on top of its graphic design features. Lastly, PicMonkey is a collaborative app that you can use with various users on the same team. Hence, it’s the perfect app for teams at home that still need to make a collaborative effort on designs.
17. Pixelmator Pro
OS: macOS | iOS/iPad
Price: Trial version, $39.99 (desktop), $4.99 (mobile)
Another one of the best Photoshop alternatives on the market is Pixelmator Pro. It’s one of the best tools out there for image editing that requires a bit of AI for increased efficiency. Moreover, the app has tons of features and capabilities like layer management, non-destructive editing, and more. The app also features retouching, selection, and painting tools that might be absent on other alternatives.
In addition, the app also has a beautiful UI and performs quickly and efficiently. The user experience is top-notch and is great for professionals and hobbyists alike. However, the app is only available on the Apple ecosystem, so you can only use it on a Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
Price: Free (limited features), $49
Technology is rapidly advancing, and with it, so is image-editing software. Pixlr is a display of modern-day technology’s power, incorporating AI to intelligently create cutouts and delete backgrounds. On the other hand, the app also provides all the features you might need in an advanced photo editor.
This includes intuitive features like drag-and-drop, overlay selection, and much more. The app also allows you to embellish or enhance your photos with accents, streaks, textures, and more. Moreover, the app has a free plan with limited features in case you need something quick. Otherwise, the premium version only asks for a one-time payment of $49.
OS: Web | Windows | macOS | Chromebook | iOS |Android
Free image editors are what allow creative designers who have a small budget to jumpstart their careers. Polarr is one such image editor that provides all you might want to edit your photos. However, it’s a little less like a Photoshop alternative and than a Lightroom alternative instead.
The app provides multiple image-editing capabilities like adjusting exposure, temperature, noise, and more. Moreover, Polarr also provides sliders and adjustments for curves, HSL, RGB, filters, and toning. It’s a relatively simple image editor — but one that gets the job done in a pinch. Moreover, it’s available for free on almost all platforms you can think of.
Price: Free, $9 monthly
If you’re looking for a reliable and capable browser-based image editor, then look no further than SumoPaint. It’s one of the best Photoshop alternatives with all the basic image editing tools you might need. These include adjustment tools, brushes, pencils, texts, shapes, cloning, gradients, and more. Moreover, the app is free and lightweight, loading quickly on a browser.
However, SumoPaint is a little limited compared to Photoshop and doesn’t include all the advanced features. The free version has limited storage, features, and includes ads. There is a pro version that removes the limitations and includes a downloads option, but it costs $9 monthly. Nonetheless, it’s a great alternative if you need a free and easy way to edit images online.
Final Word on Photoshop Alternatives
Looking for Photoshop alternatives is pretty easy in 2021. That’s because there are already many apps out there that do the job well. Some are web-based and simple while others are extensive and complex to use. Regardless, none of them will cost as much as Adobe’s premium app, but they’ll still get the job done right.