Best Photoshop Alternatives for Windows Windows Central 2019

We were not having it when Adobe decided to double the price of Photoshop in early May. Even though the price has since been put back to normal, the idea of a subscription has turned many off from wanting to use Adobe software. Fortunately, there are many programs out there that work just as well to help you edit photos or create digital art. Our favorite is Affinity Photo since it has many of the same tools as Photoshop and produces powerful edits.

Best Overall: Affinity Photo

This is hands down the best alternative to Photoshop out there right now. It makes for an easy transition since it uses many of the same keystroke shortcuts and provides many of the same editing features. However, one of the best things about Affinity is pricing. Make a one-time payment and the software is yours to use — no subscriptions and no unexpected changes in price.

You'll find the basic tools like red-eye removal, crop, resize, drawing tools, selection, and more, but you'll also find lens distortion correction, a cloning stamp, color adjustment, blur, brushes, layer masks, and several other advanced editing tools. Importantly, it also features batch processing so you can make the same adjustment to several images at once. You can even use this software to create HDR images or stitch multiple images together into a Panorama. One of the coolest things this software offers, is the Inpainting Brush Tool, which operates much like Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill. You'll be able to remove unwanted objects from your photos and fill the space believably so it looks like nothing was ever removed.

Do you want other Adobe alternatives? The company also offers Affinity Designer and a Beta version of Affinity Publisher, which are similar to Illustrator and InDesign, respectively. This means you can get the equivalent of the full creative suite. Affinity programs have also recently come to iPad and with any luck, we'll see them on Android tablets in the near future.

Pros

  • One-time payment
  • Inexpensive
  • Professional tools
  • Interface similar to Photoshop
  • Layer masks

Cons

  • Cannot organize photos

Best Overall

Affinity Photo

A powerful and inexpensive photo editor

Affinity photo gives you access to a myriad of editing tools that are similar to what you get with Photoshop. It produces powerful results and is a great option for professionals on a budget. Best of all, it only requires a one-time payment instead of a yearly or monthly subscription.

Best Filter Options: Corel PaintShop Pro

Corel has been around for years and has created an impressive database of tutorials and support features to help you learn the software. Beginners and frequent editors alike will appreciate them, along with all the automatic editing tools. You'll find 99 preset filters that each allow you to give a unique, artistic effect to your photos. You can also manually adjust your images to get them looking exactly how you want them.

The interface is clean and organized into two tabs: Manage and Edit. In the Edit tab, you'll find the basic editing tools such as selection, crop, resize, and shape, as well as advanced tools. This software includes touch up tools to help remove blemishes and unwanted elements from your photos. This program works in layers so you can make changes to one layer without affecting the rest. You won't find many vector tools in this software compared to others, which limits potential projects. This program cannot create animated GIFS, so if that's something you like to do you might need a different program.

The Manage tab allows you to search your computer for images. Once you've found what you want to use, organize photos by rating, categories, date, and location. There's even a facial recognition feature, but as is common with many photo editing programs, it often makes mistakes. You'll need to manually tag every photo and make sure it didn't just tag a random part of a background as a face.

Pros

  • 99 filters
  • Simple interface
  • Inexpensive
  • Photo organization library
  • Works in layers

Cons

  • Cannot make animated GIFs
  • Limited vector tools

Best Filter Options

Corel PaintShop Pro

An inexpensive photo editor

PaintShop Pro is an established photo editor that also features plenty of powerful tools. Touch up photos, organize your photo library, or create something from scratch. It has a simple interface and features object removal tools so you can take away distracting elements from your photos.

Best Free Software: GIMP

One of the best things about this free, community-created software is its versatility. You can install a number of plugins to get the tools you want and it gives you access to basic tools like crop, color picker, eraser, selection, and text tools. You'll also be able to use some more advanced features like a clone tool, layers, smudge, blur, sharpen, and pen tools. There are even a limited number of automatic presets that you can use to adjust the look of your images.

Professionals will notice that the editing effects often aren't as good what you'd find in a paid-for photo editor. Color adjustments might seem a little washed out or brightness changes might seem too harsh. That being said, it still provides decent results and is a great option for home projects. Professionals can get by using it but they might have to turn to other software to get a certain look from their work. In addition, the interface and functionality of the software can be a bit clunky at times. The user interface has all the tools you need, but they aren't organized in the best fashion, so it might be hard to find what you're looking for.

The creators of GIMP say that it works best when used in conjunction with other free programs such as Scribus, a desktop publishing software, and Inkscape, which is a vector graphics editor. If you use it with those programs, it will be similar to having the Adobe creative suite.

Pros

  • It's FREE!
  • Can install plugins and scripts
  • Works in layers
  • Regularly gets updates

Cons

  • Edits don't always look as professional
  • Not as intuitive as other programs

Best Free Software

GIMP

Free software that actually provides decent editing tools

GIMP is the most popular free photo editing software in the world. It offers a wide range of tools to enhance your photos or create digital images. Some of the features aren't as good as other paid programs, but considering that you don't have to pay anything it's a good option to go with.

PhotoDirector's interface is organized into six different tabs so you can quickly find different tools. This is especially good for novices since it prevents them from feeling overwhelmed and helps them learn each of the tools faster. Keep in mind, this is not a program for digital painters since you cannot create an image from scratch, you can only edit existing photos. Additionally, the tools included are only for enhancing your photos so you won't find vector tools or complex brushes. Even the pen tool behaves more like a pixel brush.

Editing tools are split between the Adjustment tab and the Edit tab. In the Adjustment tab, you'll find preset filters and basic editing tools, like red-eye removal and crop. This tab is perfect for when you just need to make a simple edit. The Edit tab is where you'll find a lot of cosmetic tools and photo fixes. This tab also helps you create 360-degree panoramas with your images, add color effects, remove unwanted objects, turn your photos into HDR images, and much more.

In the Library tab, separate images by color, rating, and keywords making them easier to organize and sort. When you're done editing and organizing, you can use the Create tab to add your photos to a slideshow. Complete the experience by adding music, choosing the speed of the slides, and picking your own transitions.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Great photo organization system
  • Several support features
  • Works in layers
  • Slideshow creator

Cons

  • Limited vector graphics tools
  • Cannot create images from scratch

Best for Beginners

CyberLink PhotoDirector Ultra

A simple photo editor that produces great results

CyberLink PhotoDirector is one of the easiest photo editors to use. It features an intuitive interface and the tools themselves produce high-quality edits. You'll also be able to organize your photos in several different ways. When you're done editing, create full-blown slideshows complete with music and transitions.

Best for Digital Drawing and Painting: Clip Studio Paint Pro

I'm a huge fan of this software and will say that it works better than Photoshop when it comes to paint brushes and line art, partially because it allows you to work with raster and vector layers in the same file. Brush strokes come out looking just like they would on actual paper, giving you plenty of control when drawing. Since it's drawing focused, this software works best in conjunction with a drawing tablet.

There are pens, watercolor brushes, oil painting brushes, pencils, pastels, airbrushes and much more. I've found that these brushes blend together much better than Photoshop's do. If your hands are a little shaky, use the stabilization tool to smooth out your strokes. Nifty, eh? Clip Studio Paint also offers some of the best resources in its template library, with options like trees, buildings, and much more. If you're having difficulty drawing a complex body position, pose and scale the 3D human figure templates before drawing over them.

While there are several drawing and painting tools, this is not the software to use for editing photos. Filters, adjustment tools, and cropping tools do exist, but they are clunkier than other programs and will take longer to use. Additionally, this isn't the easiest program for beginners to pick up, since it is a professional software. You'll need to rely heavily on tutorials to learn all the tricks and features it offers. If you do master this software, you will find that it creates amazing results and makes painting and inking processes easier.

Pros

  • Excellent brush tools
  • Line tools
  • Works in layers
  • Large template library

Cons

  • Not easy for beginners
  • Not good for editing photos

Best for Digital Drawing and Painting

Clip Studio Paint Pro

Software designed for illustrators and painters

Clip Studio Paint Pro is the must-have digital painting software for serious artists. In addition to the amazing quality of the brushes and tools, this software allows you to work with both raster and vector layers within the same program. It works best with a graphics tablet so be sure to have one ready.

Best Photo Organizer: ACDSee Photo Studio Professional

What really makes this photo editor stand out among the others is its exceptional photo organizing features. You can sort and search for your photos by metadata, date, rating, locations, color labels, file size, and image type. That's more organizing categories than most other photo editors offer. Using batch processing you can edit, rotate, resize, and export several files at the same time. You can even password protect your photo files to keep them safe.

You'll find the basic editing options like cropping and red-eye removal, but there are also some more advanced features like the ability to smooth skin, make color adjustments, and remove unwanted objects from your photos. However, the process it takes to edit photos is riddled with extra unnecessary steps. You can get used to it after a while, but it's a bit off-putting when you first start using the program. Everything is divided into tabs, but the user interface is confusing. It will take you a while to know which tab to go to for specific tools.

If you want to take advantage of SeeDrive{.nofollow}, ACDSee's cloud storage, you will need to pay extra. Many other photo editing companies that offer cloud storage do so for free. The lowest option is a 50GB plan, which costs $25 per year.

Pros

  • Batch organizing
  • Several sorting features
  • Powerful editing tools
  • Password protect your files

Cons

  • Pay extra for cloud storage
  • Editing takes extra steps
  • Confusing user interface

Best Photo Organizer

ACDSee Photo Studio Professional

A software with exceptional photo organizing features

With this software, the photo organization options are just as useful as the editing tools. Edit your photos and then sort them in a way that makes the most sense to you. The editing tools are powerful and will create professional-level results.

Summing up

As you can see, there are plenty of alternatives to Adobe Photoshop on the market. When deciding which programs to place on this list, we considered convenience, price, the editing tools offered, and any special features. You'll need to figure out exactly what it is you're looking for in a photo editor in order to know which one to buy.

If you simply want something akin to Photoshop, we highly recommend using Affinity Photo. It's very similar to the aforementioned program and produces professional-level results. If you mainly want a photo editor that allows you to draw and paint, you should use Clip Studio Paint Pro. Since its focus is painting and drawing, it has better line and brush tools than Photoshop and will help you create exactly what you envision.

Credits

Rebecca Spear has a background in graphic design and has tested dozens of photo editing programs in the last four years. In addition to creating her own digital artwork, she loves reading and playing video games.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.