What it is: Adobe has set the standard for professional graphics tools with software like Photoshop and Illustrator. However, both Photoshop and Illustrator cost over $500, which puts them out of the price range of non-professional graphic artists.
If you’re an aspiring graphic artists, you probably can’t afford the full price of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. However, you may be able to buy the student edition of either program. That way you can afford the full version to use and learn for your professional career.
For everyone else who may need graphics editing capabilities but won’t need all the professional features of Photoshop or Illustrator, there are plenty of alternatives. Perhaps the most obvious alternative is the $69 Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is designed for consumers but which contains the vast majority of graphics editing tools that you’ll need.
Besides being basically identical to Photoshop, Photoshop Elements costs less and is easier to use. Once you get used to Photoshop Elements, you’ll have no problems migrating to the professional version of Photoshop later.
For another Photoshop alternative, look at Pixelmator, a $29.99 program that only runs on the Macintosh. Pixelmator’s low cost and advanced features have made it a favorite among graphic artists who aren’t wedded to Adobe Photoshop’s user interface and file formats.
While many graphic artists rely on Photoshop, some prefer Illustrator. Since Adobe doesn’t offer a low-cost version of Illustrator, vector-drawing graphic artists can look at the $49.99 Affinity Designer program instead.
Affinity Designer even won Apple’s Best of 2014 award for Macintosh software so that alone tells you that its stable, full-featured, and powerful. Affinity Designer can import and export Illustrator files if you need file compatibility, but it’s probably better as a stand alone program for anyone who doesn’t need the cost and complexity of Adobe Illustrator.
With programs like Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, and Affinity Designer, you can now get top-notch graphics programs for a fraction of the cost for Adobe’s full-featured, professional tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. Unless you absolutely need Photoshop and Illustrator, you can save a bundle of money using low-cost but still powerful alternatives instead.