With digital photography largely taking over traditional film photography's place, it has become more and more important to have an image editing software. The king of kings is, of course, Photoshop, but with a price tag of $699 for the full version, many started to wonder if there aren't free options around that could do the same things Photoshop does.
What program you need depends largely on what you will use it for. We've previously published a list of free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop which are under 2MB. Today, we'll be looking at a couple more, very capable, great Photoshop alternatives.
Paint.NET is a program rich in features, tutorials and with a supportive community to help most new users through their learning curve and issues. Paint.NET started development as an undergraduate college senior design project mentored by Microsoft which was meant to substitute Microsoft Paint, and is currently being maintained by some of the alumni that originally worked on it. It has a large number of buttons that are exactly like Photoshop and an equal number of Photoshop features, which makes it a very strong candidate as a substitute for those looking for a Photoshop like program. I dare say that most of what can be done in Photoshop can be duplicated using Paint.NET.
GIMP is, without a doubt a very capable image editing software with many of the same features as Photoshop. And if you require a program that allows you to create several layers, manipulate individual parts of the picture, create filters and tools and work with a variety of formats, including most Photoshop native formats, such as PSD; then GIMP is the right program for you.
For those who have used Photoshop before, the interface will seem reasonably familiar, with many of the buttons having the same name and being in similar places on the interface. For those who have never used advanced image editing software before, GIMP has a very comprehensive list of tutorials, from beginner to advanced level which can be found at GIMP's Documentation page. Or you could just take a look at these 5 Websites To Learn GIMP Online.
PhotoScape is built to be user-friendly, with an intuitive choice of projects to select from, which vary from image editing and GIF creation to a wizard to combine pictures together or take screenshots. It certainly does not have as many features as Photoshop does, but can do, with a single click or two, many of the same things it would take a Photoshop user several clicks to do.
VCW comes bundled with optional web album software, but even without it, the VCW can be a very handy tool for image editing. The program has an old interface and doesn't look visually attractive, but the tools work well and allow you to do most of what you'd need from a simple photo editor, such as cropping, drawing tools, contrast and color adjustments, effects and filters. The program also comes with a video tutorial to help you master it all.
- an online option
Picnik is a simple but helpful online photo editor which can help you with either basic adjustments such as sharpening and red eye or more advanced filters under the "create button", which opens options for features such as text and color effects and many of the same filters you can find on Photoshop. It is not designed for layered editing or advanced manipulation of images, but it does a very good job with one click pre-set adjustments.
As with most programs, there are probably more options than you imagine, and th examples above are just a sample of what is available online to substitute commercial software. Finding the program that can do what you want or need it to do can sometimes mean finding a program with simpler features, but that does those things well. On the other hand, if you want flexibility and control over all the aspects of your image editing, you can also find options above that will give you tools to fulfill all of your needs.
Do you use any of the free alternatives to Adobe Photoshop listed above? Have you compared any of them to Photoshop for particular tasks? Tell us your thoughts.