Forget Photoshop, use a freeware alternative

by Ron Bertino on February 22, 2007

Paint.NetThere are many times that you’ll need to use a decent graphical editor in order to manipulate graphics. It could be needed for touching up screenshots for demos or documentation, a Powerpoint presentation, graphics for a web site, or even covering up that ugly pimple or whitening those yellow teeth on your favourite self portrait shot.

You will quickly find that the paint program which is built into all Microsoft operating systems (mspaint.exe) is almost useless. To do even basic manipulation requires something more advanced.

If you want an excellent graphical editor, you could go for Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0, but that would set you back US$70 for every installation.

Let’s look at some freeware alternatives.

1 – Paint.Net

I’ve come across a great freeware alternative that does almost everything I need a graphics program to do. It’s a program called Paint.Net.

You’ll find that using the program is quite intuitive, but it also has a decent level of built-in help information, as well as online tutorials (via a forum).

Paint.Net is only a 5MB download, will do almost everything you need, and the price is right.

2 – GIMP

GIMP is a multi-platform graphical editor, with many advanced features (truely rivaling Photoshop), and has an active online community supporting it.

If you are a more serious graphics designer, then GIMP is likely a better fit for you.

In fact, you might want to consider using Paint.Net for most of your manipulations and GIMP for the more complex work.

3 – Photoshop Express (online)

Photoshop Express is a free and basic version of Photoshop you can use online.

The only small issue is that they require that you create a free account prior to letting you use it, but that’s not a big deal.

4 – Pixlr (online)

Pixlr is a very interesting option, since it’s not only a very powerful online graphics editor, but there two different versions of the product for you to use.

Pixlr Express is tailored for newbies who want a quick and easy program to use with basic features, and Pixlr Editor is the more advanced version of the product giving you many more features.

Pixlr also have Pixlr Grabber available, which is an extension for either Firefox or Chrome which allows you to easily capture any webpage (or part thereof) and send it to the Pixlr site for editing.

5 – Picnik (online)

Picnik is tailored to apply quick pre-made special effects to your photos.

Picnik is now also integrated with Flickr, which is the one of the most popular sites for storing your photos.

It’s easy to use, has all of the traditional basic features, as well as some more advanced features such as layers and special effects.

6 – Aviary (online)

Aviary offer an entire suite of graphics tools: screen capture, image editor, vector editor, effects editor, color editor and image markup.  Aside from some great graphics tools, they also have a music creator and audio editor.

7 – Flauntr (online)

Flauntr also provide a suite of graphics goodness.
Aside from a graphics editor, they also provide a bunch of other useful tools:

  • stylR: to apply one-click effects to your photos
  • editR: provides many one-click options for your photos
  • picasR: to blend world famous paintings onto your photos
  • textR: for fancy fonts and effects
  • profilR: for creating social network photos

Similar to Photoshop Express, you’ll need to register for a free account prior to being able to use these tools.

8 – SplashUp (online)

SplashUp is another powerful online graphics editor, made to look similar to Photoshop.

It’s similar in style and functionality to Pixlr.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

misterdicious December 12, 2009 at 8:44 am

i used GIMP for more than a year and quite satisfied. of course we should get used to it if we have used photoshop before, i think i had adapted with gimp after using is for 3 days, up till now :)

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nicholassimon June 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

If you are interested in image editing (or a Photoshop alternative) for free this is a good place to start -
http://ninjarabbits.blogspot.com/2009/11/free-adobe-photoshop-alternatives-to.html

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freeware November 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm

until few second ago I only know with GIMP and Paint.Net for free photoshop altenative, thanks for your lists !

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Color Separation Services March 19, 2011 at 7:41 am

10 Excellent Open Source and Free Alternatives to Photoshop
1. GIMP
2. Krita
3. Paint.NET
4. ChocoFlop
5. Cinepaint
6. Pixia
7. Pixen
8. Picnik
9. Splashup
10. Adobe Photoshop Express

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