Adobe’s Photoshop is definitely the number one photo editing software on the market, and the latest version CS5 brings in so many more features, you’ll simply remain amazed at what it can do. Even though all of this means the interface is a bit cluttered, that is nothing compared to the possibilities it gives to photographers and other people whose profession includes editing any kind of images.
Of course, web designers, who have to work with websites that are composed of 50% images every single day, couldn’t just look from the side and got in on the action. And guess what, Photoshop can easily accomplish all of their tasks, too! If you’re striving to become a professional web designer or photographer, you’ve most definitely already been told to acquire a version of this wonderful software.
But the main problem with it is that it costs quite a lot of money, and if you’re just starting out or are simply an amateur that needs to do a couple of edits per month, you may not want to shell out those money.
With that in mind, a lot developers got together to create free alternatives to Photoshop, some of which accomplish the same things at the same quality, and yet are completely free. Here is a list of the most popular Photoshop alternatives that you can find on the Web.
GIMP is the most popular free alternative to Photoshop, and I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of it until now. It’s got every feature that Photoshop has and therefore, can accomplish any image editing task you throw at it. From simple effects to editing huge photographs with dozens of layers and masks, GIMP can do it all. The only gripe of most new users is the unfamiliar interface, which is pretty hard to use. But now, this can easily be fixed using the open source and free GIMPShop, which transforms the menus to be exactly like those in Photoshop. Install them both and you practically get a free clone of Photoshop!
This application, built on top of Microsoft’s abandoned Paint.net project, is a wonderful photo editing tool that can do 90% of all tasks you may need. It’s got advanced support for layers, a ton of tools to modify your pictures, a lot of integrated special effects and a nice interface that is pretty easy to use – if you’re an amateur or moderate user, this is everything you’ll ever need.
Picasa is a much lighter alternative to Photoshop and the above two apps. It is free, it’s made by Google, it looks gorgeous with all the AJAXy special effects, and it lets you do any kind of basic edits on all of your photographs – what else do you need?
PhotoScape is a great free photo editor that is very similar to Picasa, except it has a relatively uglier interface and it doesn’t come with an integrated photo viewer. But for the main task of editing images, it’s pretty good: it gives you all the basic features like resizing, cropping, drawing, adjusting gamma and color levels and other things, plus a couple of unique features like the batch editor, which lets you quickly resize or otherwise modify dozens of picture with just a few clicks.
VCW VicMan’s Photo Editor.
Vicman’s Photo Editor may look a bit old, but it is still a very nice image editing tool for Windows. It has all the basic features you may need (similar to Picasa or Photoscape), and the only thing that is bad about it is the old-looking interface (which is understandable, as its code dates back to the days of Windows 2000).
Pixlr is an amazing display of new technologies, and Software as a Service in general. It is an online photo editing application that has a very Photoshop-like interface and allows you to do most of the things you need when editing any image. You get layers and masks, a clone tool, color correction tools, brushes for drawing, a text tool and a lot of other useful stuff. The only bad thing about it is that it needs a speedy Internet connection to work smoothly, but if you have anything more than a 1Mbit upload and download connection, you can easily use it without problems.
Photofunia is not technically a photo editing service or application, but it is worth mentioning because it has quite a lot of great and fun special effects. You just upload a photo, select a special effect (like putting your face on posters in a city, with famous persons, on various currency bills, and other similar stuff), wait for the service to process your picture (which takes only a few seconds), and then download it to your computer with the effects applied. It’s very interesting to use and you can print the photos as posters or share it with your friends on various social sites (which is how Photofunia actually became popular).
You can save quite a lot of money by choosing to go with any of the above apps for your photo editing needs instead of buying a full copy of Photoshop or even Elements. Using a couple of them together will certainly give you all the features and possibilities you may need.