Open Source Photo Editor

Open Source Photo Editor

If you use open source photo editors because they are user-friendly or cheap, you can find and download free photo editing software for making basic color corrections, professional image retouching, and creating designs/templates/illustrations, etc. Check out these 10 open-source image editors for photo retouching.

What Is an Open Source Photo Editor?

If the source code of the photo editing program is open, any user can see it and change it (add/remove plug-ins, etc.). This allows you to use the already existing code to create new program versions, correct errors and, possibly, help to improve the program’s photo editing features.

Manual elimination of bugs or errors. Any user can adjust and correct the program’s bugs/flaws without waiting for the official updates.

Additional functions. The open source allows a user to change or add the missing elements, various image editing tools, and functions.

The software is usually completely free.

It isn’t always safe. Be aware of viruses, because photo editors’ competitors can add viruses to the program. To avoid this, download the programs exclusively from the official websites.

10 Best Open Source Photo Editors


1. GIMP

gimp before and after gimp before and after
 
Overall Rating: 70
Color
20/100
Retouching
70/100
Design
80/100
Interface
90/100
Navigation
70/100
Functions
60/100
Speed
55/100
Advertising
50/100
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • A large number of tools for image retouching and color correction
  • Frequent updates
  • Friendly technical support
  • Well-developed tools to work with masks and layers
  • Compatible with Linux
Cons
  • Quite weak performance compared to analogs

GIMP is one of the best open source photo editors, and is often considered to be a free Photoshop alternative. It can be used on Linux and Windows. It offers tools for color correction, image retouching, text and layers work. GIMP photo editor is a completely free desktop software that has an interface and tools similar to Photoshop. It comes with quality Photoshop-like brushes, which ensures fast and easy work with masks and layers. The most significant disadvantage is that you can’t use GIMP on Mac OS and it is slower than Photoshop and Lightroom.

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2. Raw Therapee

raw therapee before and after raw therapee before and after
 
Overall Rating: 60
Color
50/100
Retouching
30/100
Design
60/100
Interface
50/100
Navigation
50/100
Functions
70/100
Speed
65/100
Advertising
40/100
Pros
  • Best RAW photo editor
  • Convenient catalogue system
  • Available in 25 languages 
  • Parallel editing of multiple images
  • Powerful color correction tools
  • Absolutely free
Cons
  • Not good for photo retouching
  • Not convenient to work with masks and layers

RawTherapee is a photo editor designed for photo managing and basic image editing. This is an open source photo editing app with weaker functions and tools similar to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Unlike other photo editing apps, it supports RAW files. There are many tools for color correction, reducing noise, rotating, adjusting exposure, enhancing or reducing shadows and light, regulating tone settings, vignetting, processing EXIF-data, cropping, adjusting white balance, etc. There is a batch mode if you need to work with many pictures at once.

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3. digiKam

digicam before and after digicam before and after
 
Overall Rating: 65
Color
60/100
Retouching
40/100
Design
60/100
Interface
60/100
Navigation
50/100
Functions
40/100
Speed
35/100
Advertising
50/100
Pros
  • Powerful photo manager and organizer
  • Has tools for basic picture retouching
  • Available for all kinds of platforms
  • Completely free
Cons
  • Not good for professional color correction

DigiKam is a powerful photo manager, organizer and image editor that was created for Linux but is also available for Windows and Mac. You can import images in various ways, organize them into albums, and view and search in your collection by location, time, tags, and people. You can use this open source photo editor to experiment with different tools: create panoramas and calendars, then export selected images and share them online. DigiKam allows you not only to find images by name or tag—the search option helps you find images that are similar to others. Although the program is designed to manage your images more than to retouch them, in some cases, it has more useful functions than the specialized programs.


4. Paint.Net

paint.net before and after paint.net before and after
 
Overall Rating: 65
Color
20/100
Retouching
60/100
Design
60/100
Interface
90/100
Navigation
90/100
Functions
40/100
Speed
45/100
Advertising
60/100
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Suitable for basic photo retouching and color correction
  • A large number of tools for digital drawing
  • Totally free
Cons
  • For Windows only
  • Slow photo editing

Paint.Net is a raster graphics editor for Windows. It has a very simple interface with logically arranged tools. The most pleasant feature is that you don’t need a powerful PC configuration to use this open source image editor.

Paint.Net is a free graphics editor from Microsoft, designed for the Windows platform. Keep in mind that Paint and Paint.Net are quite different programs that have different tools and functions, so do not mix them up. Paint.Net has a great number of drawing tools for basic image retouching, using quality brushes to eliminate minor defects, for example, pimples or unnecessary photo elements. In general, Paint.Net is a universal photo editor for beginning photographers or amateurs who need software with basic photo enhancement functions. The interface looks a little bit outdated.


5. Pixen

 
Overall Rating: 55
Color
20/100
Retouching
50/100
Design
40/100
Interface
80/100
Navigation
90/100
Functions
50/100
Speed
65/100
Advertising
50/100
Pros
  • Many tools for digital drawing
  • Simple user-friendly interface
  • Completely free
  • Available in mobile version
Cons
  • For Mac OS and iOS only
  • Low performance speed
  • No 16-bit color channel

Pixen is a simple and convenient open source photo editor for beginners. It is one of the best alternatives to Paint.Net, with almost the same set of tools and an emphasis on drawing. Pixen is a free image editor. Actually, this photo editing software doesn’t have as many functions as the GIMP photo editing app. You can use Pixen to perform basic image retouching, adjust shadows, exposure, add text, etc. What I did not like about the editor is its working speed and the lack of a 16-bit color channel.


6. Inkscape

inscape before and after inscape before and after
 
Overall Rating: 50
Color
30/100
Retouching
40/100
Design
50/100
Interface
70/100
Navigation
80/100
Functions
30/100
Speed
65/100
Advertising
50/100
Pros
  • Advanced tools for working with vector graphics
  • Totally free
  • Available for all kinds of platforms
Cons
  • Not suitable for color correction and photo retouching

Inkscape is an open source photo editor for vector illustrations similar to Adobe Illustrator. Vector graphics are not based on a grid of pixels, like raster graphics used in GIMP and Photoshop. Instead, vector graphics consist of lines and polygons arranged in a shape. Inkscape is a free vector graphics editor to create both artistic and technical illustrations. People often use this free photo editing software to design logos and banners and generally do any tasks related to vector graphics. You can scale and visualize them with different resolutions without quality loss. Inkscape supports Scalable Vector Graphics standard, as well as a complete set of tools for converting, complex tasks and high-resolution rendering. The evident disadvantage is a small number of tools for image color correction.


7. Krita

krita before and after krita before and after
 
Overall Rating: 50
Color
30/100
Retouching
45/100
Design
60/100
Interface
70/100
Navigation
70/100
Functions
30/100
Speed
40/100
Advertising
40/100
Pros
  • Well-developed brushes
  • Many drawing tools
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Friendly technical support
Cons
  • Not suitable for color correction
  • Bad for photo retouching

Krita is a powerful graphics editor, a drawing software, and an app for basic image retouching. It has a very pleasant and user-friendly interface that supports both raster and vector images. Krita has a particularly rich set of drawing tools that imitate color mixing and brush pressure, especially suitable for educative illustrations. In general, Krita is something in between GIMP online editor and Paint.Net.


8. Darktable

darktable before and after darktable before and after
 
Overall Rating: 60
Color
40/100
Retouching
40/100
Design
80/100
Interface
70/100
Navigation
60/100
Functions
60/100
Speed
70/100
Advertising
40/100
Pros
  • Well-designed catalog
  • Powerful RAW converter
  • Tools and features similar to Lightroom
  • Completely free
Cons
  • Not suitable for professional photo retouching

Darktable is a free open source image editor with a powerful RAW files converter, tools and features similar to Lightroom. This is an ideal variant for color correction and work with dozens of photos. I think that this software is suitable only for amateur photographers.


9. LightZone

lightzone before and after lightzone before and after
 
Overall Rating: 45
Color
20/100
Retouching
40/100
Design
60/100
Interface
50/100
Navigation
50/100
Functions
30/100
Speed
55/100
Advertising
40/100
Pros
  • Absolutely free
  • Powerful RAW Converter
  • Basic image editing
Cons
  • Not suitable for professional color correction
  • Bad photo retouching panel

LightZone is a free photo editing software to manage and edit RAW images. Using this open source photo editor you can easily improve photos, eliminate defects, perform basic color correction, adjust white balance, blur some areas, increase sharpness, remove traces of dust on the lens, and reduce noise, which often appears when shooting with a high sensitivity rate. Instead of using layers as other photo editors do, LightZone prompts the user to create a stack of the necessary tools (chain/set of tools). While processing photos, you can rearrange, reconfigure, activate or delete a separate tool in the set.


10. Shotwell

shotwell before and after shotwell before and after
 
Overall Rating: 45
Color
30/100
Retouching
40/100
Design
40/100
Interface
80/100
Navigation
70/100
Functions
40/100
Speed
65/100
Advertising
30/100
Pros
  • Convenient catalog system
  • Suitable for color correction
Cons
  • Limited number of tools for photo editing

Shotwell is a software for organizing photo and video catalogs. This open source photo editor has a very simple interface and tools for basic image retouching. Shotwell is used for all kinds of platforms. The functions are designed to manage a collection of photos. Shotwell provides a convenient method to catalog and navigate through the collection of images. It features grouping by time and tags, provides tools for import and new photos conversion, supports basic image processing operations (rotation, red eye removal, exposure adjustment, color optimization), and includes tools to publish edited photos on social networks such as Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. The disadvantage is the weak functionality, so Shotwell can’t fully replace any other program on this list.


Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more

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