We don’t all have Photoshop or the need for complicated design software programs with a steep learning curve. Most times we just want to fix a photo or design an ad for Facebook or a banner for social media. I’ve gathered here 21 useful, free tools that are suitable for users who are not professional designers.
Alternatives to Adobe Software Programs:
Name: Pixlr Photo Editor
Description: An effective, online alternative to the classic Photoshop. It has a user interface that is very similar to somewhat older versions of Photoshop. In terms of tools and options it is more limited but on the other hand you can still find here the basic Photoshop options such as working with layers, using masks, as well as various filters and editing options for photos.
One of my favorite features in Pixlr is the program’s responsiveness – it always works fast. Although I have the advanced and powerful ‘Photoshop CC’ installed, I find myself many times preferring to quickly open a new chrome tab, pick Pixlr from Favorites and start retouching one or two photos… It’s just much more convenient than waiting for Photoshop to go up, load the photo, and then start working on it. In short, in my opinion this is a must-have software in every browser!
Platform: PC, MAC, Linux
Description: One of the more recognized programs on our list, Gimp is considered the unofficial alternative to Photoshop. The program is packed with features and capabilities just like Photoshop and in fact everything you can do with Photoshop, you can pretty much do with Gimp. The only limitation is your own imagination
Another plus, thanks to the relative popularity Gimp has gained, is that you can become a pro in this software through countless guides available online.
Description: Crello is a very simple and intuitive design tool that is comparatively new to the market. It has more than 12,000 free templates and a vast collection of stock photos. It’s killer feature is Animated Designs – 10-second live designs, where you can add your text and logo and download them in an mp4 format. Crello also has a free Resize feature (paid in Canva) and a presentation design format with an unlimited number of pages.
Some design elements and photos cost $0.99. Also, there’s an unlimited storage space for your designs and uploaded files, which is awesome.
Platform: PC, MAC, Linux
Description: Just as Gimp is considered the natural and free alternative to Photoshop, Inkscape is considered the alternative to Adobe Illustrator. This software an open source and is available to everyone free of charge, just like Gimp. Inskape also gives you endless options for vector graphics; everything you can do with Illustrator, you can also do with Inskape. Anyone looking for a free alternative to Illustrator, Inkscape is the best one you can find.
Platform: PC, MAC, Linux, Chromebook
Description: Vectr is a pretty simple vector program; it’s minimalist in everything related to various options and tools, but it excels in the speed with which you can operate it and in providing you with an enjoyable work experience. Suitable for drawing illustrations, designing banners and customizing simple interfaces.
Description: For those of you who just want to make small modifications to your photos or create simple elements, PhotoFiltre is an excellent choice. Version 6.5.3 is as simple to operate as the Paint program, and includes among other things effects in black and white, gradient, gamma, saturation, contrast, brightness, sharpen, blur, and more. You can zoom in and out using the keyboard and you can easily open multiple windows, sample color, or copy parts from one image to another. Version 7 of the software is more advanced, and it enables work with transparent backgrounds and separate layers.
Description: paint.net is a pretty good alternative to Photoshop, especially for those looking for good software to retouch and manipulate images. paint.net is installed locally on your computer, feels extremely responsive and can run quickly on older computers or on computers with weak specifications. Among the many options that the software offers you can find: working with layers, adjustments of brightness, saturation, contrast, a variety of effects and the possibility to perform Undo without limitation!
Name: Adobe CS2
Price: Not Free
Platform: Windows, mac os
Description: Adobe offers its software program package in a ‘CS2’ version for download which includes: Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Premiere and more, for anyone who purchased its software in the past with a serial number through its website. Although the software is not equipped with the latest features and capabilities available in Adobe CC, still you can gain firsthand experience with Adobe programs, practice them and of course – create almost anything.
Description: Canva is one of the most popular tools on our list, and this is primarily due to its easy, fast and fun user experience. Canva has a rich assortment of designs and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that allows you to create banners, ads, flyers, invitations or any other design you wish to make.
What really makes Canva and the like special, is the fact that you don’t have to be an exceptional designer in order to create something that looks very good visually.
Description: easil also appeals to the same type of audience as Canva and offers a tool rich in design elements, images, and a variety of fonts. easil has a responsive interface and an excellent user experience, but there is one thing that makes easil much more attractive for the Israeli audience, and that is the ability to upload Hebrew fonts! (The writing is reversed, but it’s useful even so…)
Name: Adobe Spark
Platform: Online, Mobile and Tablet
Description: Do you think that the software giant Adobe would sit idly by while Canva chips away at its dominance over the world of design? Of course not! I present to you Adobe Spark, a free Adobe tool designed to address the needs of users who might choose to leave Photoshop and move to Canva; Spark’s purpose is to keep the users within Adobe’s ‘ecosystem’. Spark can be downloaded for free on mobile devices and tablets, and is also available as an online service for computer users. Spark offers fast and intuitive work just like Canva and of course full synchronization with Adobe’s cloud service for subscribers.
Name: Google Web Designer
Description: A very nice Google tool that many people are not aware of – Google Web Design. So, what is it about? This tool allows you to create an animation in HTML 5 without using any code! If the thought of using it for an ad campaign on social media immediately popped into your head, then you are right. Web Designer is great for creating animated banners and it gives you a variety of animation options for your banner.
Name: Compress JPEG
Description: Speed is the name of the game! Google likes fast-loading websites and this is known to be an important part of its algorithm, but more importantly – the user loves it. Our user is more impatient than ever. Every second that our site has not yet surfaced and the user doesn’t get what he wants, chances are he’ll quit.
Many times, one of the most important factors in a site’s loading time is image size, and one of the best, most highly recommended tools I’ve come across for the shrinking of images is the Compress JPEG website.
You can upload up to 20 images in one round; most times you’ll get a pretty high rate of compression, sometimes even a 50% compression of the image! Of course, I wouldn’t recommend this tool if it would hurt image quality, which is exactly the point, it doesn’t. It maintains an almost identical level of quality as the original image before its compression.
Professional Tip! Even if you have a 20Kb image, put it through Compress JPEG. For each small image you upload, you can save 15%-50% of its file size. It accumulates and eventually becomes significant in weight.
Description: Like Compress JPEG, also this software gives you exceptional compression quality, but unlike the previous tool, with this one you are limited to uploading an image of up to 5 MB, and it is not possible to compress PDF files.
Professional Tip! Don’t try to compress an image through Compress JPEG and then through TinyJPG; you will see a relatively significant reduction in image quality.
Description: An excellent tool for creating wireframes and prototyping, it is loaded with various UI elements and allows you to set up sophisticated interfaces. You can also add different interactions such as: a link to another page, go back or forward, turn off or turn on the display of an element and more.
The free version of the tool enables the use of up to 300 UI elements in each arrangment, which is sufficient for the design of a simple promotional website.
Name: Google Drawing
Description: The tool in general is very similar to the classic Power Point, you can drag shapes, tables, images, texts and more onto your workspace. You can create simple single-page features with this tool, and it’s efficient thanks to its speed and ease of use.
Description: Cacoo is a multipurpose tool, it’s great for things like: building wireframes, creating flowcharts, Thinking Maps and more. You can share your projects with coworkers or clients, get their feedback, and work collaboratively on the project.
Description: Not sure which color palette best suits your design? Simply upload the main image that will appear in the design to Pictaculous and it will give you the colors that best fit the design. In addition, it will show you color palettes from Adobe Color and CLOURlovers.
Professional Tip! It takes Pictaculous a relatively long time to find the recommended palettes, so be patient – it pays off .
Name: ADOBE Color
Description: Adobe’s Color will allow you to upload a photo to the site and let it offer you most suitable palette for you. You can set up in Color the rules according to which it should pick the right palette for you: bright, colorful, dark and more… In addition, you can freely build color palettes according to a predetermined convention of complementary colors.
Professional Tip! For those who subscribe to Adobe cloud services (write ‘Creative Cloud’ in English) you can load the color palette to any Adobe software you choose.
Description: A simple and easy-to-use tool that lets you set a uniform white background for the images you upload. It’s excellent for anyone who has an online store or a shop on eBay and wants to present his products on a white background.
Description: Do you have old black and white or brown photos that you wish to colorize? That’s exactly what you can do with ColorizePhoto. A very simple and responsive tool, you load the image you want to colorize, and then load another image from which you can sample the colors. For example, if you have a photo of a lady in a floral dress you should upload a color photo of a woman who is more or less in the same lighting conditions as the woman in your original photo and who is also wearing a dress in the photo, so that you can sample the colors from the new photo to the old one.
Name: Snipping Tool
Link: Typing “Snipping Tool” in Windows Search
Description: Those who don’t know this great tool, it was always right under your nose. The Snipping Tool, as its name suggests, allows you to snip parts of your screen and use the image as you please. This tool is a perfect solution for you if you used to take a shot of the whole screen in order to make some comments, now you’ll be able to send an image of the specific area that causes the issues. In addition, after you have snipped a specific part, you can write with a pen to mark the problematic section.
Do you know of additional free and simple to use tools? Please share with us in the comments below 🙂
Tags: ADOBE Color, Adobe CS2, Adobe Spark, Cacoo, Canva, ColorizePhoto, compressjpeg, Crello, Design tools, drawings.google.com, easil, FotoFuze, Gimp, Google Web Designer, Inkscape, Moqups, paint.net, PhotoFiltre, pixlr, Snipping Tool, TinyJPG, Vectr