I love GIMP and any other free/community run or even paid alternatives to Photoshop. I mainly used GIMP for a long time myself until I got a new tablet two years ago and it stopped recognising my tablet. Photoshop didn’t have that problem so I’ve been using it as my main program ever since. So that comment was mainly tongue in cheek
and during exam times it isn’t a great idea.
Alternatives to Adobe software are great because Adobe software is waaaaaaaaay too expensive for normal people. They do make all the popular software like Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator and Flash but the fact is that even getting one will probably leave you in debt. Thankfully there’s alternatives and I’ll list some below.
- GIMP - FREE: Basically the “free” version of Photoshop. By no means does this mean it’s garbage because it’s an incredibly awesome piece of software that has features which surpass PS equivalents. It can be used for photo editing, special effects, painting and all the standard PS stuff. It has vector paths like PS as well.
- PaintShop Pro - PAID: A Corel product which is dedicated to image editing. It doesn’t really have too much in it that GIMP can’t pull off.
- Corel Painter - PAID: Corel Painter is dedicated painting software that tries its best to emulate traditional mediums and has pigment mixing of colours (mix enough and everything turns brown) compared to PS mixing light. Painter is an awesome idea but it’s an incredibly buggy piece of software which makes pros avoid it for a reason. It often has really nasty crashes for no reason and can corrupt your saved file data so I’d be careful with this one.
- Easy Paint Tool SAI - PAID: Like Corel Painter, this is more for painting than photo editing. It has a much simpler interface and less functionality in general but has neat features like brush smoothing where it can ease out the tremors in your lines and interesting blend settings. SAI paintings tend to look very distinct when compared to PS works. It’s sadly in Japanese only, but people have been kind enough to make English language packs which you can find in the link I’ve given. A friend of mine runs a counterpart blog to mine purely for SAI so if you’re interested check it out.
- Mischief - PAID: is a new and little known painting program but it has lots of potential. Mischief is a painting program with an infinite zoom so while you’re painting you can zoom in as far as you like without pixelation. Like vector graphics it has no set canvas size so you can always expand your painting and you can also save your painting at whatever size you want.
- Sketchbook Pro - PAID: This is for painting/design and as it says on the box basic sketching. It comes with features which allow symmetrical painting, easy placing of marking lines and anything involving design. It’s a fairly cheap and worthwhile piece of software to check out.
- Inkscape- FREE: Inkscape is basically a free Illustrator and again it kicks arse despite being open source and community run. Inkscape is far easier to use than Illustrator and does pretty much all the stuff apart from some of the more 3Dish elements but if you’re new to vector then this won’t be a problem. I’ll always pick Inkscape over Illustrator unless there’s a specific feature that Inkscape lacks because it’s very easy to use.
- Corel DRAW - PAID: Corel’s Illustrator equivalent that focuses on vectors.
There’s no doubt more for both categories but I’m more of a painter than an editor or vector artist so if anyone wants to add to the list then go nuts. Alternatives are always a good thing and it doesn’t really matter how you get your end result so long as you’re happy with it and the process to get to it.
A very good blog post made by my friend over at Photoshop for Noobs about alternative programs for Photoshop, and of course these are all alternative programs for SAI as well, if you want to have more then one program at a time, since well, you know, while SAI is an amazing program, it can be beneficial to use more then one. (I use SAI for the most part, and Photoshop for anything that I can’t seem to do in SAI or don’t know how to do in SAI etc. Which is fairly easy, since you CAN save a picture in SAI as PSD (Photoshop file format) and this WILL keep all your layers and everything intact the same way it was in SAI. But enough about that….