I’ve been using Adobe software in earnest since they acquired Macromedia back in 2005, (I miss you Fireworks), and in that time I’ve done some awesome things with their software. During many periods I’ve relied on it to make a living, and it has served me well.
However, despite how familiar and comfortable virtually anyone in creative professions is with Adobe software, it’s always a good idea to know as much as possible about all the tools at your disposal. With a little exploration you might find there is a tool out there that is perfect for the specific tasks that form part of your daily workflows.
In this series we’ll be exploring the alternative software that occupies the same space as some of the most beloved Adobe applications. We’re keeping the focus on low or no cost applications so trying out some new toys won’t break the bank–everything will either be fully free, have a functional free version, or a price tag of less than $100. Because, let’s be honest, sometimes we’re just at a point in our careers where we need options that are going to be gentle on our hip pockets.
Your Work, Your Software
This is far from the first time someone has put together a list of alternatives to Adobe software, but in my experience a list alone is not helpful enough. For a given project you don’t just need any old application. You need an application with tools honed for the particular kind of work you need to do.
The image editing tools you need when doing photo manipulation are different from those you need when doing digital painting or pixel art. The video editing tools you need for a quick video on your YouTube channel are different from those you need for your short film or your motion comic. What really matters is the specifics of where applications are strong, what they specialize in, and any unique features they may have.
As such we’re breaking this series into six specialty groups. They are:
- Photo Editing
- Digital Painting
- Vector Art
- Video Editing
- Pixel Art
I have personally tried out every single application you’ll read about in this series, and I will endeavor to give you as much pertinent information on each as I can fit into the articles. As you go through this series you might find there’s an application you know to be great that isn’t in the list. If it’s under our series price cap of $100 and not included, it’s more than likely just because I haven’t personally tested it. As such, please do go ahead and shout out in the comments about programs you’ve discovered so other people can learn more about the options available to them.
Up first, alternatives to Photoshop for working with photo manipulation and raster-based design. Thanks for joining me, and I hope to connect you with some of your new favorite software!