Photo by youngdesign, Creative Commons
Tired of going through trial versions of Adobe Photoshop? Frustrated by the limitations of common accessory programs like Paint? You’re not alone.
Adobe Photoshop may be the holy grail of photo editing software, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to break the bank to produce high-quality photos! The Internet has spawned some amazing open source photo editing programs that’ll get the job done, and then some.
Best of all? Put away your wallet; you won’t have to pay a dime!
Check out these free substitutes to Photoshop available online for both Mac and PC users. Just remember — free doesn’t equal perfection. Bugs, downtime, and editing limitations are inevitable. After all, there’s nothing exactly like the real deal.
1. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
Definitely considered one of the most popular Photoshop alternatives, GIMP is cross-platform, with a large community of support. Customize your editing interface and get nearly all the advanced photo editing techniques of Photoshop. GIMP is Free Software and part of the GNU Project, with development and improvements ongoing. Still miss Photoshop? Check out GIMPShop, for a look and feel that is as close to Photoshop as you can get, but still free! All bang, no buck.
This photo editing program is gaining popularity because of how easy it is to manipulate photo effects normally used by advanced photographers. In addition to cropping, resizing, and red-eye removal functions, you can animate, distort, extract, smooth, and pick apart your photo any way you want! Swap a celebrity’s face with your own, recolor your hair, or cartoon-ify your image right away. Edit in multiple layers as you import photos from various photo sharing sites.
Pixlr offers a suite of photo editing services. In Pixlr Editor, retouch digital images with basic and advanced tools. Out of time? Pixlr Express has quick and easy editing options if you’re in a rush; make sure to download Flash for both programs. For a faster editing experience, install Pixlr Grabber into your Firefox or Chrome browser, or onto your desktop (Windows only). This program allows you to click on images and open them up in Pixlr Editor immediately.
Look familiar? The relatively sophisticated interface of Splashup is modeled after Adobe Photoshop. Edit in layers, implement layer effects, filters, brushes, etc, while working with multiple images at once. Formerly known as Fauxto, Splashup runs in your browser, with the ability to edit images from your account on other photo sharing sites. Overwhelmed? Download Splashup Light for an easier, simpler interface and basic photo editing capability.
If the name rings a bell, it’s because Picnik rose to fame through a partnership with Flickr. All editing is done in the browser; no download or registration is required. Premium versions are available for a price, going as high as $24.95 for an annual subscription. In addition to Flickr, Picnik users can edit their photos via Picasa Web Albums, Facebook, Yahoo! Mail, and Photobucket. In March 2010, Picnik announced that it was acquired by Google, which means you can expect bigger and better things on the horizon.
Part of the FotoDesk group based in Switzerland, flauntR is privately funded. The Flash-driven interface and integration with popular social networking sites makes this program easy to use for beginners looking for quick retouching and editing. Users must register for a free account to use this program and get access to online image storage and professional printing services.
7. Photoshop Express
Die-hard Photoshop fans should check out Adobe’s online web-app. Released in 2008, it’s a far cry from the full version (it has no layer ability, for instance), but it’ll get the job done in a pinch. Register for a free account to get 2GB of space for your photo upload needs. Not enough? You can upgrade for a fee, of course. Adobe Photoshop… or bust!