True free alternative to Photoshop

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Everyone knows Photoshop, at least the term. Adobe, the company behind the image editing software, set the standard in the industry decades ago. What was originally developed for image and photo editing is now much more and serves as an absolutely indispensable tool for photographers, graphic designers, printers, digital artists, web designers and more. The scope, the possibilities of and with Photoshop are now felt to be limitless when it comes to images and graphics. That has its price. What used to be possible to purchase in the 4-digit range with a one-off payment is now only available as a subscription. The costs are due every month, even for the small entrepreneur or hobby artist who may only use the program 1 or 2 times a month.


There are alternatives. Well, let's say they exist, just not nearly with the possibilities and functions that Photoshop offers. There are only a limited number of real alternatives, and there are even fewer free ones. None really, that's what I still thought a few years ago.

Yet, I would like to introduce you to software that comes very close and is also worth considering for professionals. I've been observing the software for a few years now and the development hasn't disappointed me, on the contrary. I'm thrilled and almost exclusively use this free open source program for my graphics and image work. In addition to my ancient version of Photoshop (CS 1, version number 8.0, from 2003), which I now know so well and still does what it is supposed to do, that I can work with it the fastest in many things.

However, the almost 20-year-old software application has simply become obsolete in some areas and for cost reasons, as well as my belief in open source software, I never upgraded. I have to say that it was completely sufficient for me as a web designer and graphic artist, at least until two or three years ago, when I started looking for an alternative. The original was simply too expensive, and I'm not a fan of subscriptions at all because of the running costs. Especially not when Photoshop is not my main tool as a web designer.


So a good alternative was needed. I didn't find anything at first. at least nothing that runs really stable, is built somewhat similar to Photoshop, so that I don't need a training phase of several months and costs nothing or is at least affordable.

GIMP was known, is relatively stable, but from my point of view it simply works differently than Photoshop and takes a lot of getting used to. Then there were a few affordable alternatives, but again I was always bothered by a missing feature or the fact that it's only available on MAC or only runs on Windows. Linux? Wasn't even mentioned, even if Linux now not only dominates the web server market.

every beginning is difficult

One program struck me though and I tested it. Unsuccessfully. What is now almost my only program for printing, image and graphics editing was so unstable a few years ago that I didn't dare to create something professional in it. It just kept crashing, getting stuck, or being so damn slow that normal usage just wasn't possible. I often sat there and just wished I could use the features without any problems. They exceeded what my old Photoshop could do years ago.

Well that was a few years ago. And the program with the then version number 3.+ has grown up and become stable with version 4.+ at the latest. Very stable. The development team does a great job creating open source software, with features that are partly even copied by Adobe and built into Photoshop. Version 5.+ has now been released.

Krita gets the nod

May I introduce. Krita, the professional and free open source painting program.

Admittedly, it's not a copy of Photoshop and some of the tools work differently and the shortcuts are assigned differently as well. Does that make it a bad alternative? Far from it!

different origin

Krita comes from the field of digital painting and digital art. In the meantime, however, it has a range of functions in the areas of illustration, image processing and print media that are completely sufficient for using this program professionally.

Meanwhile, Photoshop originally comes from the field of image editing. But every graphic designer and digital artist knows that Photoshop is the undisputed number one for these areas as well. Digital drawings and manual renderings are commonplace in Photoshop, even though the program was originally designed for image editing.

top developers

The situation is similar with Krita and image processing. I was very pleased when the program from version 4.+ finally started without any problems and all features could be used without any problems. Not without reason. The Krita development team released 14 releases from 2020 to the end of 2021 alone. There are endless bug fixes in every release. The stability of the software on all three major operating systems (Windows, Macintosh and Linux) was, and still is, the top priority.

There are also new features, some of which are very innovative. The range of functions exceeds my old Photoshop by far. Admittedly, a program from 2003 is simply outdated and the new Photoshop is probably still far better in many respects. But in every aspect? No way. Anyone who likes to draw with the stylus pen will be impressed by the possibilities and brushes in Krita. Are there image editing tools and filters? Countless. Even PSD files can be opened and edited. Although the compatibility here is not always 100%, Krita goes the way for open systems and file types instead of trying to position its own format (.kra) as a standard in digital art. After all, it is an open source application that will be further developed with donations. As much transparency as possible, which will result in more advantages in the long run, that is the philosophy here.

Kiki, the mascot of Krita.


If you are looking for a free Photoshop alternative, you are willing to schedule a bit time to learn and do not need a Photoshop clone. You are very very well served with Krita.

Even if you are an artist, photographer or designer and you miss one or the other feature in Photoshop, or want to try out an additional tool with more options, KRITA is the right app for you.

The software is available for free at for Mac, Windows and Linux.

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