Gimp

The Digital Darkroom: Free Alternatives to Photoshop

People are obsessed with photos. Proof? Just consider the fact that every cell phone has a camera, with some models crossing the 40 megapixel mark, and the popularity of Instagram. This should be a great thing: all this amazing imaging technology becoming cheaper and more accessible, allowing for all that talent and creativity to materialize. In theory, yes. In reality, all we get is a bunch of people taking selfies.

Luckily, there are still people which know that it’s not enough to take a snapshot and upload it directly from your camera. It’s just that: a snapshot. A photograph is something more, and crafting a good photo takes some effort on your part. We’re not going to get into photography principals at this time. We are going to assume that you already know all you need to know about them and the only thing you need is the right set of software tools to achieve your goal. The obvious choice would be Adobe Photoshop, but you may not have the cash, or you are too intimidated by all the options it has to offer. However, let’s consider some of the free alternatives and see what’s what.

Gimp
Thanks to Gimp

GIMP

Available for Windows, Mac and Linux, GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP for short, is a free, open-source image editor, offering Photoshop functionality at zero cost. How does it fair against Photoshop? Pretty good actually, with all of the standard tools, such as brushes, layers, effect and so on. The thing is, the list of features is so extensive, that it might steer away some of the novice users from the editor. On the other hand, more experienced users will love it. And for those who still prefer Photoshop, but want to save money, there is Gimpshop, which is essentially GIMP with interface similar to that of Photoshop.

Paint.NET

If you don’t need everything that GIMP or Photoshop have to offer, but still you want something that allows for a bit more than basic image editing, then Paint.NET may be just the thing.Its interface resembles Photoshop, and you have your floating toolbars, color palettes, layers, image history and a menu bar on top, which has your usual options. Apart from every conceivable tool, there is also a bunch of eye-popping effects you can apply to your image. Paint.NET is a Windows only editor.

pic-monkey-shot1PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a Web-based image editor that runs on any browser that supports flash. The greatest thing about PicMonkey is its simplicity and ease of editing a photo. Your will have tons of fun editing your pics, as PicMonkey offers themed extras with tools that can make you appear like a zombie or a vampire in the photo, which is something you can play with, especially on Halloween. Basic editing, such as cropping, rotating, resizing or sharpening is still there, and you don’t need to log in to access that. Although PicMonkey is free, it does make money through ads, so if you want an ad-free version, you need to upgrade for a small fee, for which you will get some additional effects and features.

Just a quick selection of the best alternatives – other brands are available!