I love using Adobe PhotoShop (my old, er, “classic” CS3 version of it); it allows me to touch-up photos, create graphical designs from scratch or translate them from sketches, and creating presentation images and graphics. However, for most of the population, PhotoShop offers WAY TOO MANY features to explore and wade through, and it costs WAY TOO MUCH money (moolah, cash, coin, duckets, paper, Benjamins) to spend, and is likely too complicated to use for normal, minimal tasks. Well, that’s what you have The PractitioNERD is here for, and we’re going to share my three favorite of the best and powerful (and CHEAP) alternatives to Adobe PhotoShop that still have tons of features.
FOR WINDOWS ONLY: Paint.NET
Paint.NET is feature packed, offers layer editing, a wide assortment of tools, effect, and filters, a passionate community of users, and a customizable interface with plenty of room to work. For the majority of people who just want to touch up, crop, resize, or do some basic photo editing to a photo before posting it online, Paint.NET is more than enough. While it may not have the same advanced features like Adobe Photoshop (so check out their community for more advanced tips and workarounds), it still at least feature the ones that matter, plus it’s fast, flexible, and FREE!
FOR OS X ONLY: PixelMator
Pixelmator may cost $30, but it is a richly featured image editor, and since it often shows up in app bundles/packs with other useful utility programs anyway, you’ll be able to get it for a bargain. Pixelmator is impressively powerful, featuring a flexible and customizable interface perfect for OS X, multiple layer styles, filtering/editing tools, photo/image editing/retouching features, RAW file support, and has an adaptive engine that switches to necessary tools/features when you need them. Not bad for an app comes that at a fraction of Photoshop’s price and STILL offers tons of useful features.
FOR WINDOWS/OS X/LINUX: GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is well-known and well-loved because it’s incredibly powerful — packing as many features as Photoshop itself –, cross-platform compatibility and parity, and it’s COMPLETELY FREE! GIMP’s modular and customizable interface allows you to keep your most often-used tools displayed front and center without needing to dig them out EVERY, SINGLE, TIME! The program also features image correction utilities for simple photo manipulation and retouching. While some have reported interface and usability issues, it’s still hard to find a comparable feature-packed graphic editing program for the low, low price of $0.