Photoshop Too Expensive? Try a FREE Alternative!

Photoshop Too Expensive? Here's Some FREE Alternatives!

Long gone are the days of websites offering block after block of long-winded text with a small introductory thumbnail image sitting on top.

Things have moved on…and the internet is now fully dynamic!

I don’t know about you, but I constantly drift when I’m confronted with online content that reads like a sea of text.

When you are building out your website you are aiming to keep visitors there as long as possible – offering dour webpages will not help you one bit.

It’s all about breaking up the sea of text these days – giving the audience’s eyes a well earned rest at strategic points throughout your articles.

And how is this done???

Simple – images!

But most free stock images online have been used over and over again – take Pixabay for instance…every image used at least a couple of thousand times…

You need to stand out slightly with these images – take ’em and put your own witty and personal touch on them…and for that…you need a decent photo editor!

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Adobe Photoshop is Expensive…

Here’s where all the geeks jump in and sing the praises of Adobe Photoshop…but Adobe Photoshop is expensive and most of us can’t afford that luxury.

So what are the alternatives?

Well you can download a cracked version from a torrent site but they are frequently unstable and don’t last more than a couple of months (I’ve gone through plenty of these!).

Your best bet is to try out one of the following free alternatives to Photoshop (you won’t be disappointed!)…


GIMP - The Free Photoshop Option

I thought I’d start off with my favorite alternative to Photoshop – GIMP. This program is basically a free version of Photoshop that offers just about everything the Adobe giant does.

If you’ve used the older versions of Photoshop you will recognize the GIMP layout instantly…and you’ll be comfortable with it!

From basic cropping and resizing to correcting barrel distortion, Gimp is an all-encompassing piece of software that is extremely powerful.

The only drawback Photoshop users will find with GIMP is the sluggishness of the program overall – it does everything Photoshop does…but it does not do it with style!

GIMP is a great alternative to Photoshop

I also hear new users complaining about the floating window system that GIMP uses – it can get pretty chaotic at times and you will need to get used to it’s workflow.

Overall though this is an awesome option that is out there for FREE – once you become familiar with the layout and the options you’ll be flying along in no time.

There a thousands of video tutorials available online to show you how to get started, create outstanding effects and correct photo images etc. (try YouTube – there are some excellent independent tutorials uploaded there!).

Download GIMP from the official site HERE

#2 Canva

Canva Photo Editing

For some reason I was sort of ‘late to the show’ with Canva and I’ve only started using it properly over the last year or so. I’m VERY impressed by it.

I should point out that it’s not exclusively a photo editor… and it was never really meant to be…but the features do allow you to jazz up your images in a rather unique way!

I’d say it’s a cross between image manipulation and graphic design – and it’s incredibly easy to use!

Photoshop users will know that creating a simple design within the program can be incredibly time consuming and fussy. Sometimes you just want a simple design or image manipulation for your blog on the fly!

You have to be extremely proficient at Photoshop – whilst Canva is a simple drag and drop system.

Now, ‘drag and drop’ makes the tool sound like a kiddies toy but I can assure this is not the case. Just check out a couple of quick examples I hammered up for you below…

canva example 1

Okay they’re not the most imaginative of examples but they only took me 2 minutes to knock up! Here’s another one…

Canva example 2

As you can see the results are very impressive – and they took no time at all to setup and download!

Whilst I have used Canva on many occasions with photos, I think it’s real power lies in the hands of bloggers – it can turn a dour and familiar blog into something quite dynamic with ease.

Just point the mouse, click, drag and drop – a wonderfully simple tool which is extremely powerful.

Check out Canva for yourself HERE

#3 PhotoScape


PhotoScape is a pretty cool option as it doesn’t only concentrate on photo/image manipulation. When I first used it I was surprised to find that it lets you create slideshows and animated GIFs, allows you to combine and split images and offers a screen capturing tool.

The main ‘driving point’ of the PhotoScape system is the workflow toolbar they offer which can be fully customized by the user.

After you spend a little time finding your way around the system you can then choose what features you want in your toolbar – what options you find yourself using most frequently.

I found this pretty handy and it helped me create my own dynamic workflow with little effort on my part.

photo editor screenshot

The only downside to this option is the adverts – yes, the adverts!

It’s a totally free download but it is part of something called the Open Candy Network…which likes to display adverts.

These are completely malware-free but if you’re anything like me…they will start to bug you with ‘recommended software’ etc.

Download PhotoScape HERE

#4 Paint.NET

The paint/net logo

If you’re looking for a completely scaled down…well almost naked…version of Photoshop then Paint.NET could be right up your street.

It’s a completely lightweight program that loads up super-quick and offers just the fundamental features of a photo editor like layers and plugins.

When I first used the program I could not get over the similarities it has with the old Microsoft Paint – jazzed up a bit of course! screen shot

But don’t let it’s simplicity put you off – I’ve used Paint.NET on many an occasion and the results have always been top quality.

Unfortunately Paint.NET is only available on Windows systems so this is not a choice for you Mac (or Linux) users.

A great little photo editor without all the bloating functions of Photoshop – check it out HERE

#5 PicMonkey


Another pretty lightweight Photoshop alternative here that manages to pack a pretty hard punch – don’t be put off by it’s rather ‘fluffy’ yet intuitive interface.

At first I thought this was nothing more than a gimmick – something for creating collages or slideshows idiots would then post on Facebook…

But I was wrong!

It really is an excellent image enhancing program that is a great place for newbies to get started at – it’s basically a drag and drop then edit system right from it’s own homepage.

Picmonkey screenshot

It really doesn’t take that long to get through all the features PicMonkey has to offer so you can be an up-and-running expert within a couple of hours really.

It’s completely free but they do have a premium version on offer which delivers slightly more professional parameters. Check out both versions HERE

#6 Acorn

Acorn photo editing for Mac

I thought it was only fair that I include a Mac-based program on this list because we covered Paint.NET earlier on in the article (which is only Windows based).

Acorn is a fast moving image editor app for Mac systems that manages to produce quite outstanding results.

It offers tools such as:

  • Instant Alpha
  • PSD Photoshop Format Import and Exporting
  • Custom Brushes
  • Works Directly With RAW Files
  • And Much, Much More…

The thing I like about Acorn is the fact that it is pretty illusive – you don’t really realize how powerful it is until you dive down into the mass of tutorials it has floating about online.

Mac photo editor screen shot

If you own a Mac and Photoshop is too expensive for you – this is DEFINITELY worth a try!

Lightweight, good looking and intuitive – find out more about Acorn HERE

Photoshop Too Expensive?

Photoshop is pretty awesome – there’s no getting away from that really! Although the options covered here are excellent (especially GIMP) Photoshop will always have the edge on professional quality.

But it comes with a price tag…a price tag most of us don’t like!

Check out each of the options above and I PROMISE you’ll find something that more than fits your needs…

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6 comments on “Photoshop Too Expensive? Try a FREE Alternative!

  1. Yes! I like the alternate options you’ve provided us with here – free is always awesome and Photoshop is a little bit on the pricey side…

  2. Just finished reading your post on Photoshop being too expensive – I completely agree with you at the moment (I haven’t got that much money to plug into my website yet!).

    I’ve been looking for a photo editor that was simple enough to use and ideally free. I was trying Pixlr but I think it may be a little to advanced for my talents at the moment.

    I’m going to keep at it to see if I can perfect my skills but it looks like you’ve given me some alternatives I can check out. I have heard that GIMP is even harder to get to grips with – do you feel this is the case with the program when you’ve used it?

    Thank you for your help,


    1. Hi Allan,

      Yeah if you are just starting out with your website then Photoshop is not really a luxury you can afford (unfortunately!).

      In my eyes GIMP is the closest competitor…for free…but there is a steep learning curve to it. I think a lot of newbies get slightly confused by the floating windows workflow setup – I know I did when I first started using it!

      But it offers all the functions that Photoshop does and it’s totally free – not as fast or dynamic but the end product is always awesome.

      Try them all out Allan – you’ve got nothing to lose!

      See which one fits you best and roll with it – the end product is what’s important…not what got you there! 🙂

  3. I had no idea there were so many free options for programs similar to Photoshop! I am going to try all of these at least once because I find myself needing to use Photoshop for random projects, for my job, and for ideas I have but I have pretty much used up all of my free trials. I am also glad you added pros and cons about each of these programs, thanks for the honesty!!

    I find that if you look hard enough there are always decent free alternatives to nearly EVERY peice of software out there!


    1. Hi Fay,

      Yeah I have to agree with you there – if you look hard enough you can find an alternative to any of the big named software releases. They are never quite as good of course…but if you don’t have the cash they are an awesome option!

      Hope these titles above help you out with your images Fay – good luck! 🙂

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