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Best Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop in 2021

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Any marketing manager will tell you that their dream is for their product name to become a verb. What we mean by this is that, for example, we no longer carry out online searches, we ‘Google it’. We don’t drive an SUV, we drive a Jeep. Pass the Biro etc. These ubiquitous brands have defined their genre and reaped the rewards for doing so.

With the rise of social media and in particular Instagram, the ability for ‘influencers’ to make a significant income has led to a some says unhealthy, preoccupation with capturing the perfect photo. Even images captured using high-end photographic equipment may not make the grade and will require some editing. The name that has become synonymous with image editing is one we all now also use as a verb, Photoshop.

Why is Adobe Photoshop so successful?

Ok, so, we have all heard of it and most of us have played around with Photoshop but it is so much more than just an image editing software package. Created as far back as 1988, Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics editor that allows users the ability to create, enhance, or edit images, artwork, and illustrations. Digital images can be edited for use online or in physical print form and Photoshop has become the tool of choice for graphic artists, web developers, and photographers worldwide and there are several reasons for Photoshops success;

  • File Format Support – Photoshop supports (or there is a plugin for) almost all types of files meaning you can edit any image you desire
  • Cross-Platform – Photoshop works on almost every platform (Windows, Android, macOS, etc)
  • Allows the user to edit GIFs and video files
  • Photoshop is compatible with other design applications

Finally, the application simply works brilliantly. It is the most complete editing tool on the market. But this excellence comes at a price.

The downside of Photoshop

Nothing in life is perfect and Photoshop is no different. While there is no arguing with the quality of the program, and we mean that, there are factors that we need to consider which aren’t ideal;

  • The Cost – Photoshop is not cheap and as Adobe utilizes a subscription-based model, there’s no option of a once-off payment. This is fine if you are a professional user but for those of us who are not, there are cheaper alternatives out there.
  • Becoming proficient at using Photoshop is not easy. Some people have described it as akin to learning a new language and the extensive functionality and tools can be notoriously difficult for beginners to master.
  • Newer versions of Photoshop need high-end hardware to run smoothly. Beginners don’t always have access to the powerful equipment that they will need and this can lead to frustration as lag or rendering delay can be an issue.

If you are interested in photography or graphic design or you fancy yourself as an influencer and need an editing package, but don’t want Adobe Photoshop, read on to find a substitute for photoshop online.


One for the artists first, Procreate from the guys in Savage Interactive is a great illustration, painting, and sketching app with true-to-life tools that will appeal to your creative side. Unfortunately, Procreate is iOS only but that’s where the bad news ends. Procreate provides all the benefits of working digitally while also bringing the tools artists are familiar with (pencils, brushes, etc).

The procreate app works exceptionally well with the Apple pencil which allows you to create your art in a completely natural way especially, top tip here if you use a product like PaperLike which is a screen cover that will give your screen a texture much like real paper. The app is responsive and allows you to transfer files to and from other programs such as Photoshop and allows you to store your ongoing artworks meaning you can switch between projects as the inspiration hits.

The best thing about Procreate though is its cost. $9.99 on iTunes is incredible value for all the app offers.


Ok, how about photo editing? Well, it’s hard to look past Photopea. Photopea is a free, open-source browser-based image editing application that is designed in a way that will be familiar to users of Adobe Photoshop. Unlike Procreate, Photopea is available across all platforms since it is browser-based which also brings the benefit that you can take your work anywhere you like.

While not as complete a package as Photoshop, Photopea will provide you with the majority of tools you need for your photo editing work and accepts most standard file formats such as JPG, PNG, and RAW. Photopea will also handle Sketch, GIMP, and Photoshop PSD files meaning that it will play nice with other software.

While Photopea is free, some users may find the advertising intrusive and if so, an ad-free version is available at $9 a month. That’s a premium offering at a bargain-basement price.


If you’re a budding web designer then Sketch from the Dutch-based Sketch B.V company is a viable alternative to Photoshop. Only available on macOS, Sketch is a downloadable vector graphics editor app that is utilized mainly for UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) design.

Fans of Sketch say that it is more user-friendly than Photoshop making it an ideal beginner tool but with many similar features, it remains familiar to those with experience of Photoshop. While it is primarily used for UI/UX design, plugins are available to increase its range of functions meaning it will grow with you as your experience increases.

Sketch can be bought with a once-off payment of $99


If Sketch sounds right for you but you don’t live in the Apple ecosystem then Figma should be an option for you. Similar in features and functionality to Sketch, Figmas’s main difference is that it is cloud-based which allows you to work and collaborate in real-time with colleagues anywhere in the world. Figmas cloud-based nature and support of multiple platforms means work that you do on windows can be picked up by your colleague using Mac or Linux.

While Figma does not have all the features of Photoshop, owing to its specialist nature, it is user-friendly and comes with a limited free version or a premium unlimited use version for $12 per month.


By far the most common demand from users looking to move away from Photoshop is for photo editing software and Pixlr is a great alternative. Brought to us by Autodesk, creator of AutoCAD, Pixlr is a mobile app available on both Android and iOS. Pixlrs layout will be familiar to those of us with experience with Photoshop but, due to its mobile nature, it is not as comprehensively equipped. Conversely, Pixlr then is far more user friendly as its mobile nature demands this meaning it is particularly suitable for the Insta generation.

While Pixlr supports many common file formats such as JPEG, PNG, etc it does not support TIFF which some users may find limiting. Pixlr comes in a free version or with two paid options with greater functionality dependent on the users’ needs.

So there you have some of the best alternatives to Photoshop in 2021. Hopefully, you found this article enlightening, and for further reading on the best alternatives to Photoshop head over to the guys at shotkit.com for more options.


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