Photoshop is excellent.
Photoshop is also expensive for many solopreneurs and small businesses and difficult to get your head around if you’re not serious about your graphic design.
And if you’re a businessperson, design doesn’t tend to play a giant part in your daily operations; that type of work – especially that of a more complicated nature – tends to be handed down to someone that is suitably qualified.
Still, if you want to get a quick graphic-related project done yourself or don’t have the budget to hire someone to do the job for you, then it is your responsibility to add that needed bit of style to your content. And if that is the scenario you find yourself in, you obviously want to produce something that is of a professional standard – regardless of your perceived ability.
But without Photoshop, how can you even begin to craft a design of real quality?
Thankfully, there are alternate software options to Photoshop available that are both easier on the wallet and more accessible to beginners. In fact, not only are these software alternatives better suited for novices, many of the better ones can be found for free.
It's just a case of rooting around and picking the one that is most appropriate for your needs.
Luckily for you, I have taken care of the searching and researching aspects for you, and below are five of the best free alternatives to Photoshop you should be considering:
For the everyday design-related tasks: Canva
Do you need some print, retouched pictures and/or social media graphic-style designs created?
If that’s your situation, then you can’t go wrong with Canva. Conceived with a combination of simplicity and functionality at the forefront, Canva has all the tools in place to create simple yet striking designs in a number of areas. With millions of stock images, fonts, backgrounds and illustrations, the possibilities are endless. You also have the choice to design from scratch or use one of the pre-defined layouts.
For the Photoshop-lite experience: GIMP
If you need a program that has the functionality of Photoshop without the price tag, GIMP has been the #1 choice for budget-conscious designers for a number of years now. Ideal for creating designs from scratch, you can produce even the most complex of graphic projects if you desire. Nothing is out of the question.
Yet heed this word of warning: GIMP is not for you if you’re not prepared to put in the hours of learning that are necessary to use this program. It’s a complicated, stress-inducing bit of kit for newcomers. The ‘Photoshop-lite’ label is very apt in this aspect! Thankfully GIMP has a well-supported community and there are a number of guides out there should you require any assistance (which is almost guaranteed).
GIMP is available for Mac, Windows and Linux
For the Paint upgrade: Paint.NET
Originally created as a free replacement for Microsoft Paint, Paint.NET has grown to the point where it eclipses its inspiration in every area. Now a professional standard photo and image editor tool, Paint.Net has a multitude of facets to complete any task.
Saying Paint.NET is an upgrade of Paint is actually doing it a disservice; it rivals GIMP in the utility stakes while having a more user-friendly interface. That said, it also includes a steep learning curve with the package.
Pain.net is available on Windows.
For the online choice: PicMonkey
If you want to keep things online and avoid downloading software, PicMonkey could well be the choice for you.
Edit your pictures with basic effects, overlay text, make a collage, touch-up an image etc. PicMonkey is a basic photo editor, although it is effective at what it does. As a result it is ideal as a secondary choice for your graphic design needs, where you can do a quick modification of a picture in a matter of minutes. Anything more intricate, however, and you’re better served with a more multi-faceted program.
For the typography conscious: Word Swag
“It’s like a graphic designer in your pocket”
An effective use of font can be a massive help in drawing eyes to your content. With Word Swag, you have a selection of fonts at your disposal that can help make your photos stand out. Typography-style work is all this software can conceive, but it is something that it excels at. Perfect for those that want professional standard images populating their social media pages.
Word Swag is accessible via the App Store. However, I have told a little white lie – this app comes in at a whopping $4.99, so it isn’t free as the article title states… But really, the price is a drop in the ocean compared to Photoshop!