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There are precise selection tools and layers that allow you to combine elements from different photos into dramatic composite images, and Affinity Photo is available on Windows and there's an iOS version for the iPad as well, so it's a good option for people who need to work with photos on a variety of devices. For some reason, Google decided to kill off its popular Picasa photo app a couple of years ago, and its photographic offerings now focus on the online Google Photos service.
There's a simple app available for Macs and iOS devices that allows you to upload your photos to the Google website - and videos too, if you want - and then sync them across all your devices as long as they're signed into your Google account. You can view all your photos online using a web browser on your Mac, and organise them into albums for easy browsing. The actual editing tools are pretty basic, limited to a selection of simple filters, and slider controls for adjusting lighting and colour, along with tools for cropping, rotation and adjusting aspect ratio.
You can also combine a set of photos to create a collage or animated slideshow, but Google Photos' editing tools are certainly more limited than Photos on the Mac and most of the other photo-editing apps that we review here. However, Google Photos does have one big strong point that might tempt you away from simply sticking with iCloud. High-res photos and video can take up a lot of storage space, and when you sign up for a Google account its Google Drive service gives you 15GB of free online storage for your files - compared to just 5GB for iCloud Drive although you can upgrade your iCloud Drive to 50GB for just 79p a month, which is actually pretty good value - we have a list of iCloud Drive prices here.
If you're going on holiday and plan to take a stack of photos on your trip, then it might be worth signing up for Google Photos just for the extra storage, and then using Photos or another app to do some serious editing when you get back home. PhotoScape X is a relative newcomer when compared to photo-editing veterans like Photoshop Elements, but this free app has proved popular with many users on both Macs and Windows PCs.
It's also quite unusual, as it completely ignores the traditional interface design of most of its photo-editing rivals. Instead of tool bars and palettes, PhotoScape X displays its main editing window with a series of tabs running along the top of the window.
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Each tab focuses on a specific task, starting with the Viewer tab that provides a quick preview of an entire folder of photos at once. You can then select a specific photo that you want to work on and switch into the Editor tab. This includes a wide range filters, effects and lighting controls, with a handy 'Compare' button that shows 'before' and 'after' versions of your photos. You can also tidy up your photos using options such as red-eye removal, and a 'healing' brush to eliminate scratches and other blemishes.
The other tabs at the top of the editing window tend to focus on working with multiple photos, including the Batch tab, which allows you to crop, resize or apply effects to a whole group of photos all at once. We also like the GIF tab, which allows you to quickly combine a series of photos into an animated GIF for use on the web. One area where PhotoScape X does fall short is with its rather limited selection tools - which means that you generally have to apply edits and effects to an entire photo rather than selected areas within an image.
But while it's free to download, Gimp's powerful editing tools are light years beyond the simple selfie filters and effects that you find in most free apps. There are no ads and no in-app purchases to tempt cash out of you, either. The downside of Gimp's Linux background is that its interface will come as a bit of a shock to most Mac users.
Instead of colourful icons and helpful tools, Gimp fills its main editing screen with dull grey icons and long menus and dialogue boxes containing annoyingly small text descriptions. Capture One doesn't offer Lightroom's cloud-based 'mobile' synchronisation, but it does have excellent tone, colour and image adjustment options.
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DxO PhotoLab is the replacement for DxO Optics Pro, adding local adjustment tools to make it a more powerful all-round photo-editing solution. You use the new PhotoLibrary window to browse your image folders, create Projects and carry out basic filtering and housekeeping tasks. It now has a search tool, but to be honest it feels somewhat unfinished and detracts from PhotoLab's real qualities — its superb raw processing, amazingly effective PRIME denoise tool, excellent local image adjustments and highly effective and automatic lens corrections.
The image quality produced by PhotoLab is second to none. The big news, though, is that DxO is now bundling PhotoLab 2. It has a built-in hybrid browsing and cataloguing module that gives you fuss-free exploring of your image folders but more powerful search tools if you need them. It has an Edit module with Develop, Effects, Portrait and Local adjustment panels, and the Effects module alone has a vast array of filters that can be adjusted, masked and combined in an infinite array of permutations.
The version pulls off a particularly amazing trick, incorporating layers, masking and compositing tools into its fully non-destructive workflow.
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It doesn't have the layer compositing support you get in ON1 Photo RAW , but it hits back with a neater, simpler interface, some beautiful effects and straightforward and effective tools. Like ON1 Photo RAW , it also offers non-destructive adjustments and 'virtual copies' to try out lots of different looks for a single image without having to save additional files.
Version 4 added Smart Collections, a Lightroom migration tool and handy Transform perspective correction tools, and the v4.
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Skylum Luminar is a relative newcomer to the photo-editing scene but it's made a big splash already. If you like the idea of an all-in-one photo-editor that can both organise your images and edit them with a fully non-destructive workflow, then you're in the right place! It even supports image layers, masks and montages. The Libraries feature offers fast, painless photo import, 'live' folder monitoring and — later in — it will offer virtual copies and search tools like those in ON1 Photo RAW and Alien Skin Exposure X.
Version 3. And for those who don't want an all-in-one browser and editor, just the 'old' Luminar plugin, Skylum has launched Luminar Flex. PC: bit 1. Photoshop Elements is actually two programs, not one. The Guided mode is a good idea, but many effects look crude and dated, while the Expert mode has hardly moved on at all. It feels like Elements is just treading water these days, as it's overtaken by fresher, faster and trendier rivals. You might just discover that the best course of action will be to use a couple of these tools instead of just one.
If you are working on a Mac and in need of a budget-friendly alternative to Photoshop, Sketch is the answer. Sketch is a vector graphics app that has the design field all excited, specifically website designers. As it is so popular, you will be able to access countless plug-ins that have been created by the community that will make this app even more functional.
Its user interface is easy to understand and boasts several features such as gradients and layers that are similar to Illustrator and Photoshop. What is more, it also offers a color picker and style presets. You can use one of the basic shapes to create your own graphic or start from scratch with the help of the pencil tool.
This app is really so flexible! GNU is an open-source cross-platform image editor. As its interface is very similar to Photoshop, it will not take you too long to familiarize yourself with GIMP. Though, users who do not have any image editing experience will find the different GIMP tutorials very useful. It offers color correction, enhancement as well as painting tools to mention only a couple of its features and is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Mac users who are searching for image editing software need to look no further than Acorn. It is a cost-effective solution if you do not have access to Photoshop. What makes it so great is that it is quick, enjoyable to use and offers useful features.
Some of its features include non-destructive filters, custom brushes and layer styles to mention only a few. The software is easy to use, but, you can rest assured, there are tutorials available for both beginners as well as image editing experts. Affinity Photo is for sure one of the best Photoshop alternatives. It is ideal for professional designers and photographers as it is completely compatible with Photoshop as well as other file formats. What makes it such a great alternative is that it is not nearly as expensive as Photoshop.
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Though, users can rest assured as it will still deliver the same performance if not better. It is compatible with Mac and Windows. If you are using an iPad, you will be happy to know that Affinity Photo for iPad is also available. Pixelmator is not a new Photoshop alternative, but recently the Pixelmator Pro version which uses a user-friendly single-window interface has been added to the mix. On top of that, the Pixelmator Pro version also boasts non-destructive image editing and offers features that include split view and a hidden interface that allows you to view your images without any distractions.
Pixlr boasts an interface that is really not much different from Photoshop. It offers hundreds of overlays, borders and other effects.