What Software I Use Instead Of Photoshop

Jeff Colburn

When Adobe created their rental program (Creative Cloud) it really rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t like the idea of making a monthly payment, I just wanted to pay for it once and forget it.

What really bothered me was that if I missed one payment, or couldn’t get online for a month, I wouldn’t be able to access my Photoshopped images. I don’t want to worry about not being able to use my images.

For that reason, I started looking for alternatives to Photoshop. I quickly found out that many others were looking for alternatives too, based on the popularity of my article, “10 Alternatives To Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom And Adobe’s Creative Cloud.”

There are a lot of programs out there, so you should have no problem finding programs to meet your requirements. After looking into many options, I selected several programs to meet my needs.

My main tool is Lightroom, which I purchase and don’t use from the Creative Cloud. I do most of my image adjustments in it, and because of the tools they keep adding with each upgrade, Lightroom becomes more and more powerful as time goes on. However, don’t run out and buy version 6 just yet. It has some serious problems, wait for version 6.1 or 6.2 instead.

Besides doing landscapes and nature photography, I’ve been getting into fantasy work. I’ll combine several photographs, some artwork and even draw directly onto the image. For this I found a great program, Manga Studio from Smith Micro.

This software works in layers, lets you import and export many file formats, including layered PSD files and has great flexibility. It won’t open 16 bit files, so save your PSD files as 8 bit.

This photograph was created in Manga Studio, with the star-burst created in Gimp. I created the doors behind the head (8 layers), and the door frame in the forehead (4 layers) in Manga as their own images. Then I combined these with all the other photos in a 10-layer image in Manga. One of these layers was used to draw stray hairs coming out of the edge of her hair to get rid of the sharp, cut-out edge look.

Doorway To Enlightenment-1

Doorway To Enlightenment

As mentioned above, I also use Gimp to do some manipulation and to create certain special effects. This is a free program.

The only other program I use is IrfanView. This free little program makes adjusting the PPI, size of an image, and cropping, very easy.

There are a lot of options out there to replace Photoshop, and most are inexpensive or free. Most of them offer free trials, so play around to see which program(s) work best for you.

Have Fun,


If you’re interested in Fine Art Prints or stock images of Arizona, visit JeffColburn.com