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.
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.
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.
Developer: RawTherapee Development Team
Alternatives: Photoshop, Capture One
Platforms: Linux/FreeBSD/Windows/OS X
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.
Alternatives: Lightroom, Photoshop, RawTherapee
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux
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.
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.
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.
Alternatives: Adobe Illustrator
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS/Linux
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.