5 Alternatives to Adobe PhotoShop

Putting it lightly, Adobe has been experimenting with Creative Suite plan price changes after the increase in the last few years. Putting it not lightly, Adobe may be taking advantage of their non-corporate user base.

Individual users and small businesses have been wary of incoming inconspicuous price raises since the switch to a subscription model – and quite a few customers have found that the cheapest subscription plan has doubled in price, from $9.99/month to $20.99/month.

“From time to time, we run tests on Adobe.com which cover a range of items, including plan options that may or may not be presented to all visitors to Adobe.com. We are currently running a number of tests on Adobe.com.”

This is an official statement issued to photography site PetaPixel – even the wording is obfuscating. All this lets us know is that it does not care for the part-time users, self-employed and small businesses who cannot afford to keep up with Adobe’s unfair pricing scheme.

As such, in the first of a multi-part series, we have compiled a comprehensive list of good alternatives for the most prominent Adobe products – starting with Adobe PhotoShop.

All of the listed are either free or single purchase.

Xara Photo & Graphic Designer

Single purchase of $44.99 and pay for future updates – Software for detailed photo editing, creative drawing and professional design. Xara products are available only on Windows but you can view, edit and update Xara documents and websites using a web browser on any computer or tablet.

Using Parallels or Fusion from VMWare allow the software to run on the Mac desktop just like a native app, although you will need to purchase a Windows license for your Mac.

Affinity Photo

Single purchase of $48.99 and for iPad $19.99 – Available on desktop, part of Affinity trio, compatible with all major graphics tablets and supports pressure sensitivity and brush stabilisation, precise selections for cutting out objects, creating masks or selectively applying adjustments that beat Photoshop.


Free, opensource program along with Scribus and Inkscape for photo retouching, image composition, painting and image authoring plus some programming uses like automation.


Free, online, in-browser image editor and supports PSD, XD, Sketch and GIMP files, essentially a Photoshop clone.

Clip Studio

Single purchase of $49.99 – A digital drawing program with traditional feel with advanced digital features such as AI colorization, thousands of customisable materials, vector layers and convert images and 3D models to line art for concept art, painting, drawing, design and graphics, on Windows & macOS.

So, there you have it. 5 free, or cheaper, alternatives to Adobe PhotoShop. Next time we’ll be looking at some alternatives to another popular Adobe app, Illustrator.

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