Photoshop without going broke

Tags: Knowledge
Photoshop without going broke
If you’re a casual digital artist, freelance designer, small company or just like to dabble in graphics, the chances are you’ve dreamt about owning one of Adobe’s premiere digital editing software and then rejected the idea after looking at the price tag. But fear not, there are enough alternative tools that will not blow your savings.

Photoshop alternatives

GIMP: The cross-platform, open-source GNU image manipulation programme may not win any awards for design, but it is arguably the most complete Photoshop replacement that you don’t need money to buy. The interface is very different, so Photoshop users will have some learning curve to negotiate, but a variety of add-ons allow GIMP plenty of flexibility. Get it at Gimp.org for your PC, Mac or Linux computer.

Pixelmator: Mac users need to look no further than Pixelmator, a powerful image-editing app with painting, retouching and drawing tools, colour correction options, a wide selection of effects, layer styles, CMYK support, compatibility with iCloud and a lot more. At Rs 920 (from the Mac app store), it is a steal. For a free trial, go to Pixelmator.com.

Corel PaintShopPro: PaintShopPro has long been the poor cousin to Photoshop, a powerful image-editing tool in its own right. The latest version packs a new image correction and face retouching tools in its ultimate edition, plus host of other features. If you’re looking for a low-cost yet professional photo-editing tool, you won’t go wrong with PaintShopPro ($60; Ultimate edition: $80).

Adobe Photoshop Elements: As the name indicates, Photoshop Elements is a scaled-down version of Photoshop and at Rs 6,000-odd, it doesn’t come cheap, but is still a fraction of the cost of owning Photoshop (about Rs 42,000) and is compatible with Photoshop plugins and brushes. However, it doesn’t have as many options and appears to be aimed at starters and hobbyist designers.

Apart from these, there are other options like paint.net (getpaint.net for Windows) and the open source Seashore (seashore.sourceforget.net). Both are free.

Illustrator alternatives

Inkscape: In your hunt for Illustrator alternatives, one of the first names you’re likely to come by is Inkscape, a professional vector graphics editor. It is free and open source, and available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Inkscape uses SVG as its native format and lets you create and manipulate artworks. There are some complex, advanced features beneath a rather basic-looking interface, and it is possible to use Inkscape on a professional level. Get it at Inkscape.org.

Sketch: For Mac users, Sketch is one of the best vector creation tools that money can buy. It has an intuitive interface and excellent array of features that some say even outperforms Illustrator in some aspects. Sketch is also great for webdesign since it can export designs to CSS. It costs Rs 3,100, but you may download a free trial from the developer’s website, BohemianCoding.com

iDraw: Even though iDraw may not match Illustrator feature for feature, this is a perfect Mac OS option for anyone new to vector drawing or to a lay user. It comes with an excellent user guide and at Rs 1,550 is quite a deal. Get it directly from the Mac app store.

Serif DrawPlus: DrawPlus can be used to created anything from simple vectors to 3D art, commercial art, logos and technical drawings. The latest version comes with a stencils tab containing pre-configured stencils, plus the option for you to add your own. There is a free DrawPlus starter edition for those with modest needs or those wanting to get a taste before paying the $50 for the full package. This is Windows only.

And that’s not all, folks. There are many more free and low-cost options to expensive graphics software. Read user reviews to find one best suited to your needs.

(The author is a personal tech writer)

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