No matter whether you are a professional or someone like me that likes to mess around with images occasionally you will have heard of Adobe Photoshop. It is so famous and widely used that people often say things like “I think that image has been Photoshopped” and similar expressions.
There is no doubt that Photoshop is an outstanding image editing program. It has more features than most ordinary users will never use or even understand. Adobe is a great company and their software is pretty bulletproof but when it comes to image editing, Photoshop is not the only game in town.
If you are a Windows user then there are a number of Photoshop alternatives you might want to consider. I have been playing around with a lot of these lately and I am proud to bring you the 8 best Photoshop alternatives for Windows.
1. Gimp – Free
It’s always good to start with a free open-source Photoshop alternative for Windows, isn’t it? It is really amazing what you get for free with Gimp. This is an image editing application that has been around for some time and it looks and feels similar to Photoshop in a lot of ways.
If you are used to using Photoshop then you will find the interface of Gimp different. There are a ton of videos on YouTube.com to help you to become familiar with the program. I am an image editing novice and it didn’t take me long to start using it. There is actually a version of Gimp available that looks almost the same as Photoshop if this concerns you.
Gimp has just about everything including image cloning, tools for painting, enhancement and color correction. Even if you are a professional image editor you will be impressed with what Gimp has to offer. You can save in all of the popular file formats too.
2. Corel Photo Paint – Free to try and then $599.99
Corel Photo Paint is a full featured image editor that has been around since 1992. It is a fine Photoshop alternative for Windows and used by a number of professionals and occasional users alike. If you are a Windows 10 user then you will find the latest version of Corel Photo Paint can support 4K displays and provides multi-monitor viewing.
If you are a serious photo editor then Corel Photo Paint has a great deal to offer. It is one of the most comprehensive image editing applications that is available for Windows. Yes, it is expensive and not recommended for the novice editor (unless you really want to get into image editing).
As with Photoshop, there are a lot of menus available with Corel Photo Paint. The interface is somewhat similar to Photoshop and you have a large work area to play with. You can virtually do everything that you can do in Photoshop with Corel Photo Paint.
3. Paint.Net – Free
Here is another open-source Photoshop alternative for Windows. Paint.net offers a lot more than the standard “Paint” program that comes with Windows although that is how it started out. If you just want to edit photos in a simple and straightforward way then you need to give Paint.net a try.
It is really easy to use Paint.net. If you are a professional then you might find the interface too simplistic but for the occasional editor that doesn’t want to be scared off with dozens of menus then Paint.net is ideal.
Paint.net has a surprising amount of features for a free application. You can apply special effects to your images and there are tools for blending, tiling and repeating selections you make. There is also layer support and you can play around with contrast and brightness to your heart’s content.
4. Affinity Photo – $49.99 (Discounts are often available)
If you are a professional designer or photographer then you will love what Affinity Photo has to offer you. And the price for this great Photoshop alternative for Windows is hard to believe. For just a $49.99 one-off payment (no subscriptions) you get a fully-featured image editor that can do what Photoshop does and possibly more.
You get a very impressive toolset with Affinity Photo and you can do everything from making minor adjustments to existing images to creating your own multi-layered compositions from scratch. Enhancing and correcting images is possible and you can use shadows, curves, white balance, highlights and a whole host of other features.
One great thing about Affinity Photo is that when you make edits they are not destructive like they are in Photoshop. It is not as fast as Photoshop when it comes to importing images but apart from that, it is a first-class alternative at a rock bottom price.
5. Krita – Free
This is a seriously good Photoshop alternative for Windows that is open source and totally free. Krita looks a lot like Photoshop and it has some very similar features as well. A lot of people that are into photo editing recommend Krita because of its range of features and that it’s free of course.
When I first started to use Krita I liked it straight away. I liked the fact that it looked a lot like Photoshop and there was no learning curve for me. The toolbars are arranged in a similar way and if you want to open different images in different tabs like you can with Photoshop then you can do that.
There are a lot of effects that you can use in Krita and if you want to use guides and rulers you can do that too. You can use templates for different projects and if you want to use a drawing tablet and pen then Krita supports that as well. One thing I didn’t like was that there wasn’t a history tool.
6. Corel Paint Shop Pro – $69.99
If you’ve never heard of Paint Shop Pro before where have you been? It has been around forever and is a really good Photoshop alternative for Windows. If you are fairly new to image editing then Paint Shop Pro is a really good application to start out with. There is a ton of support for the program and you will learn a great deal by using it.
Corel are continually upgrading Paint Shop Pro and some of the latest features include a smart selection brush which you can use to expand your selections with one click. There is also a very useful auto-selection feature which helps you to put together composite images fast.
One of the other great things about Paint Shop Pro is that you can record scripts (as with Photoshop) to automate specific tasks. There are so many plugins and filters available for Paint Shop Pro and it is really easy to batch process a lot of images. No wonder it has been around so long.
7. Serif Photo Plus – $19.99
The same company that produces Affinity Photo makes Serif Photo Plus. Although Serif recently classified Photo Plus as a legacy product it is certainly worth a place here and you can still buy the X8 version for just $19.99. It still has thousands of loyal users and it has been around for a very long time.
If you are not experienced in photo editing then Serif Photo Plus is a serious Photoshop alternative for Windows. Even if you have a lot of experience you will find that it will impress you. There are some great video tutorials and written ones as well if you prefer this.
The forum that supports Serif Photo Plus is very active and you can find all the answers that you need there. With the latest X8 version Serif have included some greatly enhanced selection tools and you can work with RAW images too. You get a tremendous amount of features and support for a very low price.
8. NCH PhotoPad – Free Version and Pro Version for $29.99
If you want easy and straight forward photo editing then the NCH PhotoPad application is a good Photoshop alternative for Windows. It has a lot more features than you might expect. You can perform a lot of photo editing tasks and it supports all of the most popular image formats.
All of the usual image editing tools are included such as resizing, cropping, color balancing, rotating and color fixing. If you really want to get fancy you can merge different exposures of an image together and create astounding HDR images. There is also multiple layer support for the easy application of effects.
You can really get creative with NCH PhotoPad and create photo books, photo collages and apply many effects to your images. There is a feature where you can replace backgrounds as well and it really is an easy to use application. In no time at all, you can be creating stunning images with NCH PhotoPad.
So which Photoshop Alternative for Windows then?
The first thing to say about these Photoshop alternatives for Windows is that there are some awesome free options. The most famous of these is Gimp, which really does give you Photoshop type features at no cost. Not far behind it is Krita which not only looks like Photoshop but acts like it too. You can’t go wrong with either of these.
If you are new to photo editing then Corel’s Paint Shop Pro and Serif’s Photo Plus are good choices. You need to be aware that Serif Photo Plus is now legacy which means that there will not be any more updates. It is a lot cheaper than Paint Shop Pro though.
At the top end, you have Corel Photo Paint and Affinity Photo from Serif. The difference here is the price. Affinity Photo is a fairly new product but it is already receiving rave reviews from experienced photo editors. And at less than $50 it is considerably cheaper than Corel Photo Paint.