Adobe Photoshop is the professional image editor. It’s name is now a verb for image editing (which is something that Adobe absolutely hates). Photoshop though, isn’t the only editor in town. Over the last few years, new image editing apps have come along that are almost as good as Photoshop, for a fraction of the price. Let’s have a look at some of them.
GIMP (Free on Windows, Mac, Linux)
GIMP is a good piece of software that embodies everything that can be bad about open source projects. Teaching yourself how to use it was a huge hassle, and there are a lot of things in GIMP that are more convoluted than they should be.
But there’s no doubt it’s a powerful program, and it’s 100% free.
In fact, it’s so powerful, that there’s not a lot you can do in Photoshop that you can’t also do in GIMP. You just have to do those things in a less intuitive, roundabout way. If price is your only consideration (or you’re running Linux), check out GIMP. But if you want your life to be easy, try one of the paid (but relatively inexpensive) alternatives below.
Pixelmator ($30 on Mac)
Pixelmator is a Mac only image editor. It’s not as fully featured as Photoshop, but it can still do a lot. At $29.99, it’s the cheapest great app you can get.
Like others, Pixelmator is a worthy Photoshop alternative that’s a massive step up from GIMP. The biggest problem is that the workflow can be very unintuitive, especially if you’re coming from Photoshop, or Photoshop-like apps. There is a learning curve if you want to switch.
Affinity Photo ($50 on Windows and Mac)
Affinity Photo is one of the first apps to even make me consider switching from Photoshop. It’s available on Windows and macOS for only $49.99.
Affinity Photo is a great alternative to Photoshop, and like with GIMP, it can do almost anything Photoshop can. The only thing you really miss out on is Adobe’s ecosystem, and a bit of Photoshop’s extra polish and more advanced features.
As good as the other apps on this list are, they still aren’t Photoshop. And at ten bucks a month, it’s still not cheap, but arguably less expensive than paying $700 up front—especially if you used to pay $700 each time a new version came out.