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Best Photoshop alternatives of 2020

(Image credit: Negative Space / Pexels)
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The best Photoshop alternatives can offer photo editing solutions to enhance your creations.

Photoshop is definitely the most well-known photo editing software, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one for you or your business. There are a few reasons that you may want to opt for alternative software, including price, special features, or a different workflow.

There’s no shortage of options, so we’ve put together this list to help you find the best Photoshop alternatives to meet your needs. We’ve selected what we think is the best software based on four main criteria: ease of use, features and functionality, performance, and compatibility. After reading, you should have a good idea of which is the right Photoshop alternative for you or your business.

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Best Photoshop alternatives at a glance

  1. GIMP
  2. Pixlr X
  3. Photos Pos Pro
  4. Krita
  5. Luminar

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(Image credit: GIMP)

1. GIMP

A robust, open-source photo editing suite

Highly customizable interface
Huge number of features, easily extensible
Raw and PSD compatible
100% free and open source
Complex interface
Steep learning curve
Bulkier and more resource-hungry than Photoshop
No CMYK color mode (add-on available)

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is an open-source photography powerhouse that works on Linux, Windows, and macOS. 

GIMP boasts a huge number of features and functions that rival Photoshop. There’s also a huge community of developers and artists who have created a wide array of plugins, making this a highly adaptable program. If you desire a specific feature, there’s probably an add-on for it. 

The interface is highly customizable, so you can pare things back or leverage multiple windows and toolbars as needed. For this reason, GIMP has a similarly steep learning curve as Photoshop, but once you’ve made your way through a few tutorials, it’s quite comfortable. 

In our experience, GIMP was slightly less responsive and used a few more resources than its proprietary counterpart, but this can be easily forgiven on the basis that GIMP always has been and always will be free and open source.

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(Image credit: Pixlr)

2. Pixlr X

A powerful HTML 5 free online photo editor

Layer support
Web-app, available from any browser
Clean design
Intuitive workflow experience
Missing some features (e.g., custom brushes)
Some tools still in beta
Limited filetype compatibility (no PSD)
Can’t be used offline

Pixlr X is another free photo editor, available as a web app. This HTML 5 photo editing software can give native apps a run for their money. 

The Pixlr X interface is more spartan than either Photoshop or GIMP, but that’s not a bad thing. The workflow is streamlined and intuitive: you can drag-and-drop a photo from your computer or add a URL, and then get to work adjusting images with familiar one-click filters and sliders. 

Given that it’s a web app, Pixlr X has surprisingly robust layer support. However, important features are still missing. Custom brushes, for example, are slated for development in the future but don’t exist yet.

Overall, Pixlr X gives you a super clean and intuitive interface for basic to medium-complexity photo editing. 

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(Image credit: Photos Pos)

3. Photos Pos Pro

A lighter alternative to Photoshop that still has many features

Customizable interface
Many functions and one-click editing tools
Support for scripts and batch editing
Raw and PSD compatible
Advanced interface is a bit cluttered
Software sometimes slow and occasionally freezes
Limited set of filters
Limited keyboard shortcuts

Photos Pos Pro is a Photoshop alternative known for being feature-rich, with tools for editing images, web design, and document creation.

While it lacks the deep customization that professional photographers rely on, it’s still an excellent program for making adjustments to photos for presentations, marketing campaigns, or personal enjoyment.

One interesting feature is the customizable interface, which enables users to select either Novice or Pro layouts. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but essentially, the novice layout sacrifices power for usability, while the pro layout is feature-rich, albeit with a steep learning curve. Even if it’s not executed perfectly, this flexibility is commendable and practical.

With layers, masking, brushes, scripts, and batch editing, Photos Pos Pro is a feature-rich alternative to Photoshop. 

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(Image credit: Krita)

4. Krita

A clean, intuitive, and customizable interface

Excellent tablet support for drawing
Highly customizable brush engine
Vector and raster capabilities
Large community
Some photo editing features missing
Some features, like macro recording, still in beta
PSD compatibility can be iffy
New features not always thoroughly tested

Krita is open-source and free, backed by a huge community of developers and talented artists who share artwork and methods. If you’re looking for an active user base that’s invested in discussing and sharing art, Krita is a great Photoshop alternative.

Beyond the community, Krita is an incredibly powerful photo editing software, with hundreds of brushes and a brush customization engine, vector and text capabilities for comic strips, a wrap-around mode for seamless repeating images and patterns, and a powerful resource manager for importing tools from other artists.

We found the interface intuitive and familiar, with minor functions like being able to scroll sliders with the trackpad and having helpful tooltips that let us know to find the right tool. 

Krita is more of a drawing tool than a photo editing tool, so certain features are missing: fewer photo filters, no automatic heal tool, etc. It does, however, support opening and saving PSD files.

Also, Krita has fantastic tablet support with custom sensitivity settings, so for artists looking to combine drawing and photos, it’s hard to beat. 

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(Image credit: Skylum)

5. Luminar

Luminar 4 leverages advanced AI technology with impressive results

Leverages AI for impressive features
Available as standalone or Adobe/Apple plug-in
Sync AI edits across photos 
Download new skies or upload your own
Raw processing could be improved
Steep learning curve to really benefit
Can be heavy on system resources
No mobile version or web app

Luminar isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s a powerful photo editing software that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to help artists create amazing photos in just a few clicks. 

Luminar is available as a standalone editor or a plug-in for Adobe products, so this is an alternative that you can actually use in tandem with Photoshop. 

Its impressive features include instant AI sky replacement, AI portrait and skin enhancer, sunrays, advanced AI structure and lighting filters, a smart contrast tool for preserving color and texture, and object removal brushes, some of the best we’ve used.

The layout is clean and intuitive, with most functions available in the sidebar. Clicking on one brings up sliders for customizing effects, with advanced settings available. From start to finish, the Luminar photo editing workflow is smooth and speedy.