Digital Art on a Budget: The 6 Best Photoshop Free Alternatives

February 10, 2023 • Zachary Amos


Photo editing software is a dime-a-dozen now. However, most of them are only free during a trial period before spending a lot of money — and then, you may as well purchase photoshop. So, is there a comparable program that can act as Photoshop free alternatives? 

Analyzing various features is crucial to informed decision-making since some priorities require more intensive editing power. However, these free options can still empower digital artists to express themselves.


GIMP — or GNU Image Manipulation Program — is one of the market’s oldest and most classic offerings. With many years of updates, it’s had time to acclimate to requests from users over the years. It works with countless file types and works on any operating system, so compatibility in any regard is never a concern.

GIMP has many features in the base program, but the wonder comes in the many add-ons. Like a modded video game, users took advantage of its open-source nature to maximize its potential. Want more filters or effects than the plenty it already has? You got it.

The interface isn’t as streamlined as Photoshop. However, the team created many helpful tutorials for users to self-educate and become masters of the software in no time. 

It’s also the best option for photographers, since it lacks a drawing feature. Other apps work better with drawing, even on tablets and portable devices.


Who doesn’t know about Canva now, especially since it is probably your favorite YouTuber’s current sponsor. Canva has free and paid options with countless templates and sizing options to make custom designs. 

Their services are expanding yearly into surprising areas, such as animations and social media scheduling. There are some services locked behind the premium version, but the free alternative is a great place to start especially if you’re learning digital design interfaces.

Apple Photos and Microsoft Windows 10 Photos

These programs are available on their respective operating systems and offer similar features. Both are excellent tools for not only editing but for organizing and storing images as well. Because these come preinstalled on their respective machines, they offer fewer services than Photoshop, but they do a sufficient job getting artists started.

For quick, batch edits, the one-touch option is efficient and expedient for less labor-intensive editing projects for beginners in the field.

Raw Therapee

Apart from the expected editing options like white balance and sharpness, Raw Therapee also offers an Instagram junkie’s dream of being able to create collages with a few short clicks. Like GIMP, there are additional extensions to customize and expand the editing experience.

It offers a wider range of editing options, hence its more complex UI. To bridge the gap between experienced and new digital artists, difficulty variants exist so free options help any skill level.


The name is a play on words for its inspiration — Lightroom. So, it has a lot of similar editing options such as presets and automatic image enhancement. The UI is highly translatable for Lightroom users too, allowing users to edit multiple photos simultaneously for efficient multitasking.

Darktable isn’t as capable as Lightroom, and can’t handle file sizes that are too large. However, there are ways to compress file size or work around this limitation. You also can’t get as up-close-and-personal with fine details as you would in Photoshop, but the specs it has are impressive for free software.

Photoshop Free Alternatives for Your Budget

Making art doesn’t have to mean spending countless dollars on programs with a high learning curve. Dive into these easy, free alternatives to jumpstart any digital art endeavor. Whether it’s line art or editing photography, one or multiple programs will get creative juices flowing, giving you time to save for the real Photoshop if you choose!