Photoshop is still probably the best photo editing software available, when all is said and done, but it’s not free and in some places it can still be quite expensive. Individual licenses have become much cheaper but it might still prove to be an unnecessary expense if you can do what you need, for free, with free graphics editors. There are some decent free Photoshop alternatives out there.
In this video and article I will briefly review some of the best free photo editing programs for 2015.
|2||Paint.NET||Very Good||Excellent||Very Good||4/5|
GIMP is a versatile free open source graphics editor developed as part of the GNU Project. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. GIMP is entirely free, supports layers and has many tools and effects that can be used for professional image manipulation. With GIMP you can actually do most of the things you’d do with Photoshop, except many of the third party Photoshop plug-ins may not have their GIMP equivalents.
GIMP is a full graphics editor, so in addition to photo manipulation and retouching, you can also do other stuff like making website layouts and graphics, posters and flyers and all sorts of other images for various purposes.
Although the GIMP interface is a bit more difficult to start off with than some other photo editors, it is customizable, so you can change it according to your own needs.
GIMP is probably the closest you’ll get to Photoshop with an entirely free program, although some people say it is more difficult to learn than Photoshop.
Paint.NET is a free graphics editor with slightly more advanced features, including layers which are essential for professional graphics design and photo retouching. With Paint.NET you can do much more than just simple edits like resizing, correcting brightness and contrast, or color correction, it’s actually a fully fledged graphics editor.
It also has a great interface that is very simple and user-friendly, and the program itself is lightweight so it loads quickly and can even be used on older machines with low hardware specifications.
Paint.NET has many of the same features as Photoshop but it’s still not as good. Features include a good selection of tools and effects, automatic updates, unlimited history and an active online community.
PhotoFiltre is a free photo editor for Windows created by a French developer. PhotoFiltre does not support layers and it has a limited range of options, some of which are a bit outdated. But its user-interface is very easy to navigate, it provides most of the basic features you’d expect from a free photo editor, the program itself is very fast and loads up quickly because it’s so lightweight and thus ideal for use on older computers or netbooks.
PhotoFiltre does not support layers, but I found it very convenient to use for quick edits like resizing images, color correction and adding image borders.
Pixlr is a free photo editor available on Windows desktops, Android and iOS mobile devices and it also has a free web based app that can be used on any computer with a browser that has Flash support, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari.
The Pixlr free photo editor for Windows computers is pretty decent for doing color correction and balancing, and adding some other effects to images, but it’s not a fully fledged graphics editor as it does not support image layers. However much like PicMonkey it has a lot of preset effects that are actually quite nice, such as color themes and applying various textures and effects on images.
If you know what you’re looking for and you’re fairly sure Pixlr has it, then it can save you a lot of time in editing. One issue I had with Pixlr when I tried it was with resizing images. The resizing process made the photos blurry.
PicMonkey is a free browser based photo editor that works on Windows, Mac and Linux, on browsers that support Flash, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Apple Safari.
With PicMonkey you don’t need to register for an account to edit a photo. On the free version of the site, you can still use some of the premium features, but they leave a PicMonkey logo on the image if they are used. However there’s a decent amount of free features that will not leave a watermark or PicMonkey logo as well.
PicMonkey has all the basic features you’d expect from a photo editor, such as image cropping, resizing, hue, saturation, brightness, contrast and exposure controls to enable color correction, as well as a lot of preset color themes and textures that can be applied to your image.
PicMonkey is good for doing some basic edits and color correction on your photos, especially if you are using a computer that does not have any good photo editing software installed, like at an internet cafe or school, but it’s definitely not a professional graphics editor.