7 totally free Photoshop alternatives for adventures in photo editing

August 28 2013 | bijouxandbits

free-photoshop-alternativesWearing a lot of hats is one of the major down-sides perks of running a small business. And if you're jumping into self-promotion and online advertising, "graphic designer" may end up being one of those hats. (Pro tip: professional designers are often very willing to work with your budget. Seek them out, if you're able.) But if you're going it alone into the world of making your own creative, you'll need a program that will allow you to lay out web banners, create blog badges, and edit photos of your products or for your website. The seminal Adobe Photoshop can run in the realm of $600 (or $50 per month with the Creative Cloud), and even Photoshop Elements (a pared-down version) runs about $60. So here are some totally free editing tools for your banner-making, photo-cropping, and avatar-creating needs so you won't end up having to use noobsville MS Paint.


Editor by Pixlr
This online application (no software download) does a pretty fair job at re-creating the feel of Photoshop.

It's not perfect, but it can totally handle layers, some filters, and the usual crop-and-chop that you need.

This one is described as "amazingly simple," and it actually is! This could be a game-changer for those not rocking the Photoshop.





This online application diverges from a Photoshop lookalike into a pretty user-friendly, filter-oriented pre-set environment.

If you're looking to make something snazzier with a few basic editing tools and font overlays at your disposal, this is your guy.


Lots of filters, image overlays, and Chrome extension integration make this tool stand-out.

Plus, it's another online application, so it's for all platforms.


GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program is a mainstay in the open-source graphics market and runs on most platforms.

You'll get access to layers, masks, brushes, and pretty robust plugins. This is more for a more experienced user who wants more advanced options and tools.


Seashore is an OS X application that brings you some basic image editing tools with a streamlined interface.

You won't get a lot of the filters that you'll see in other tools, but it will be easy to use and, of course, works on your Mac!

Ribbet is built on the same code as the crowd-pleasing Picnik, which got bought by Google and then went offline. Ribbet is another user-friendly online app with cloud storage, editing history, and a Chrome extension. It lends itself more to adding bling and copy to a photo than heavy-duty editing work.

Paint.Net is a PC-only program with features like unlimited undo, open source plugins, and originates from ye olde MS Paint, if you're looking for something familiar.

How are YOU handling your marketing creative? Getting font-happy or hiring a pro?

  1. One you should add to the list is photoscape. It is open source and not the prettiest but is really great. Pages (collages) is an awesome part of the program PLUS you can make animated gifs very easily.

  2. I used GIMP to design the covers for my indie books. It was the first time I'd used anything more advanced than MS Paint (which probably shows lol). But the point is, GIMP had all the tools I needed, and was fairly user-friendly for a total n00b. It's popular enough that Google had results for just about any question I had.

  3. This is awesome. I work in research where there is no money (NONE) for hiring a graphic designer to put together promotional/educational materials or to buy decent software. Design is way way out of the realm of my professional training, yet it's a big part of what I do simply because there is no one else to do it. Thank you for doing this thinking for me!!

    Does anyone know where I can take a crash course in desktop publishing? Laying out materials in a way that both looks good and facilitates learning is WAY HARDER than it looks. Having decent software will help me a lot, but I think I need some help in page design/layout (and my budget for said training is a song and a smile).

  4. Also inkscape, which is open source (for those of you who like that sort of thing) and what we're using to do all of the design work for our wedding.

  5. Not quite the same but also useful: Scribus is an open source alternative to Quark – not really for individual image manipulation, but great for laying out pages if that's your thing (exports print quality pdfs too).

  6. In your list the most i like is pixlr one and GIMp in respect of desktop version, Recenlty there is new version in pixlr named as http://www.toolpic.com you should mention that, it is similar to pixlr but has animation option with shortcut effect, with frames, Hope you like it.

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