Alternative Graphic Design Software to Photoshop

Alternative Graphic Design Software to Photoshop main article image
Posted on February 27, 2021 by Macario Hernandez

Do you have an art project that needs some graphic design work? Do you want to add some zest to your social media images? There are countless reasons why you may need some graphic work done. You can hire someone to help or you can do it yourself with graphic design software like Adobe’s Photoshop.

It was not too long ago that digital graphic designers were an elite fraternity. Mostly college-educated professionals using awfully expensive software. They had backgrounds in color theory and typography and often worked on pricey computers.  All this can be helpful, but today more than ever graphic creation is affordable and assessable to the masses.

Today you don’t need a degree to learn digital graphic design, or master design software. Some of the software is intuitive and there are countless online tutorials for every skill level. Despite what you may think you don’t even have to be a great artist to do graphic design, but it helps.  

In this post, we will look at Photoshop and alternative graphic tools that you can use for your artistic endeavors. Before we start let’s talk about the main different types of graphic design software.

Photoshop On a Computer Screen

Type of graphic design software

Graphic design software normally will specialize in different things. The design software normally specializes in one of these categories (photomanipulation, drawing /painting, typography, layout and design, and 3D creation and manipulation). Photomanipulation software allows you to alter images by doing things like cutting them out, changing their sizes, and color correction. Drawing / Painting software tries to mimic brushes, pens, and canvas. Some software focuses on typography (the art of moving type and shapes into interesting designs). Similar to typography software layout software is focused on moving text and images around. Layout software is often used in making magazines, newsletters, and flyers. 3d software allows you to manipulate and often create 3d images.

Another factor to consider when looking at design software is what its output and input options are. For example, is it vector-based or raster-based? Vector-based output like Adobe Illustrator uses can be scaled to any size and never lose its quality. Rasterized-based images have a very specific resolution and when made too big or sometimes too small they lose their quality. Most image and photographic designs will be raster-based.

What is Photoshop?

For many, the first true graphic creation software was Adobe Photoshop. That software is still an industry standard to this day. It is so common that its name is often used as a term meaning to alter and edit images. Photoshop is one of many Adobe software tools used for graphic creation and photomanipulation. Photoshops feature includes (cutting and masking, color correction, layering images and text, image distortion and manipulation, animation, 3d manipulation, photo-retouching, and much more) Photoshop is also full of digital painting tools. It has a massive library of brushes and tools for drawing and painting. One of the other great assets of Photoshop is the large number of plugins that you can get that extend its capabilities. At the end of the day, Photoshop is the gold standard that all other graphic software emulates or tries to surpass. The downside for Photoshop for some is the price and for others the learning curve to use. Photoshop currently is available through a subscription model of about $20 plus dollars a month. Photoshop is available to use on the Mac and PC with versions available as apps on other devices.

Photoshop alternatives

If you are looking for something different than Photoshop here are some graphic tools to consider.

  1. Affinity Photo
  2. Procreate (iPad only)
  3. Gimp (free open-source)
  4. Corel Photo-Paint
  5. Pixelmator Pro (MacOS only)
  6. Pixlr

Affinity Photo

First off this software is cheaper than Photoshop and has about all of the same features. It boasts unlimited layers (depends on your processing power), raw editing of photos, digital painting, batch processing, and photo retouching. You can edit PSD / Photoshop files in it. Many people who use feel it’s easier and more intuitive to use than Photoshop. Because of the cost and ease of use, this may be a better choice than Photoshop for many. And you can do photo stitching in it. For more details on what this software does visit their Affinity website.


Created as an app for the iPad, Procreate is a popular tool for artists. With over 200 adjustable brushes and full-color control, your iPad can become your digital canvas. It’s built to work with the Apple Pencil.  At under 10 bucks in the app store this a robust drawing tool for artists.


This has been a good alternative to Photoshop for many years. This open-source program has many of Photoshop’s tool sets and is free for Mac, Windows and Linux. Layers, photo retouching, and color edits are just a few of the tools that GIMP can help you with your graphic designs. It may be missing some Photoshop capabilities but for basic users, you probably won’t notice.

Corel Photo-Paint

This is a photo editing software that allows you to digitally paint and manipulate photos. It has various effects you can apply to your images. It can also edit RAW images. Corel Photo-Paint makes it’s easy to export for the web.

Pixelmator Pro

A highly rated image editing platform for MacOs. It’s considered user-friendly and intuitive. Has layers, brushes, and plenty of color correction options as well. It also has tools for creating Vector graphics. Cheaper than Photoshop but doesn’t have all its functions.


This is a fun easy to use tool for graphic creation and layouts. It has templates, stickers and overlays, and other options at different tier levels and prices. One of their tier levels includes access to their stock library of images. Works on Mac and Windows.

These are just a few tools that can help you with your graphic creation needs. There are tons of other options out there. Some other apps to consider are Rebelle which has life-like paint options and Photopea which is a web-based image editor. Some are free, or low-cost and all have online tutorials you can check out before committing.

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