I love Photoshop but a good designer will learn new programs just for the sake of remaining relevant in this ever changing field. That said, here are five up-coming programs that are challenging the Photoshop throne.
Developed over the last eight years by Kanzel Berger, Pixel Image Editor is one of the strongest applications i’ve ever used to come from a single developer! It’s also available for Linux and Windows in 32 and 64-bit versions. The 64-bit OSX runtime is still forthcoming. My only problem with Pixel is that it looks and operates so similar to Photoshop. I wish someone would try to rethink the whole image editing UI.
Photoline is a viable alternative but honestly, who wants to use a numerical input UI while designing? That feature alone keeps a large segment of the population from ever even considering it. Too bad because it’s a good program. Here are some of the features that it offers that a lot of it’s competitors don’t from MacApper.
* Pixel accurate drawing and selection tools
* 16-bits per channel
* CMYK and Lab color
* Full masking support
* Fully editable text layers with proper typographic controls (such as kerning and paragraph spacing)
* Shape layers with solid bezier tools
* Layer effects (drop shadows, etc.)
* Difference Clouds
* HDR image support (including creating HDRs from multiple source photos)
* Image slicing, image maps, and animation tools for web designers
* Useful web export tools with presets, previews, file size info, etc.
* Recordable Macros
* Useful named presets for most filters
* Ability to name and save your own presets for most filters
* Text (paragraph and character) style sheets
* Launches in less than 1s on my MacBook Pro
* No product activation
A nobel effort by the developers but these days UI is everything and this one simply doesn’t have it.
Corel has always been a bit like Hillary Clinton. They’ve got a lot of supporters, they’re well respected, hugely influential but no matter what they try they always come in second place. Some people will even argue that it’s better than Photoshop but the industry will tell you otherwise. The very fact that it’s been around so long and hasn’t quite made it says to me that they’ve still got a long ways to go. If you’re looking for an application as stable as Photoshop, with a huge userbase, and customer support to match, this is it.
Ahhh, finally a competitor to Photoshop that gets it right on both levels: interface and function! In fact, I’ll argue that the UI looks better than PS’s. Things operate a bit differently but usability is great and I never once felt like I should switch applications. The fact that it opens PSDs is a HUGE plus. As far as how it stacks compared to PS, Macteens makes some great points:
In order to transform your image, you must use an overcomplicated interface to scale your image or whatever else you’re doing to it. This process could have been simplified by just using something along the lines of Photoshop’s Free-Transform tool activated by “Command + T”….There really isn’t any pretty way to say this, but Pixelmator offers no real power over managing text in the interface.
If Photoshop is the king of design applications, GIMP is the king of open source alternatives. Adobe really messed up when they ignored the Linux market because it created an opening for GIMP to build a huge fan-base and a legion of diehard supporters. I like the fact that it doesn’t operate exactly like Photoshop, because If I wanted anything that was just like Photoshop…I’d be using Photoshop.