As a developer for Photoshop (and now Aperture) I rarely spend time in other host graphics apps. There are other purchasable ones, like the Corel Painter Suite, but they generally don’t publish a good API that plugin developers like Digital Anarchy (that’s us) can hook into.
There are also a bunch of free image editing apps. For our customer model, they simply fall short of what Photoshop can do and none are widespread enough for us to support. Which makes sense since these free apps are not trying to be Photoshop, just act as an alternative for folks who aren’t doing graphics for a living and don’t want to invest money into graphic manipulation.
Having said that, I occasionally run into a summary list of free Photoshop alternatives. Thought it would be interesting to post a list that I found on Downloadsquad.com through a friend’s blog, pirandello.wordpress.com. The Downloadsquad article lists these free apps:
– VicMan’s Photo Editor
The one that looks the most interesting to me is Paint.net. The palettes and menu arrangement seem well designed (even, dare I say, Photoshop-esque), I love working with tabbed documents, and it’s great to support Open Source apps. One downside is that Paint.net is Windows only.
Of course, if you’re already familiar with the subject of free Photoshop alternatives, then Gimp is the topic that inspires philosophic debate. This is usually from folks who come from a programmer geek side of things. If you’re not familiar, than you’re probably a visual arteest who is happy with your app of choice, and I don’t suggest getting involved in this Pepsi-Coke debate.
If DO you want to know more about ‘Gimp vs Photoshop’, I find this article on Askreamoor.com website to be an interesting start.
Frankly though, my opinion is that the best alternative to Photoshop is Photoshop Elements. It is worth every cent of its maybe $100 price tag. If you look at dollars vs billable time — and I always do — it’s much cheaper to put out the bucks upfront and have an easy method of editing, rather than spending alotta down time trying to get something simple to work. For instance, many of the apps listed above don’t support layers, which can be a bit clunky if you are trying to do anything other than simple rotation and resizing.
Coincidentally, all of our Photoshop plugins support this little Elements gem. ;)
best regards -Debbie