22 Adobe Creative Cloud Alternatives to Download in 2023

By Ann Young 19 days ago, Software Reviews

Professional photographers, designers, and filmmakers should definitely incorporate these Adobe Creative Cloud alternatives into their workflow.

Are you looking for a decent analog to Adobe Creative Cloud to save your some money? Purchasing the entire suite of Adobe products is rather expensive, as you have to spend $52.99 per month. You may not need such a large collection of programs unless you do photography and videography professionally and produce tons of media content.

You may start with free Adobe software. However, it doesn’t offer functionality that will cater to the needs of advanced users.

In this article, I have collected free and cheap programs that will help you improve photos for your portfolio, create remarkable graphics for social media platforms or a presentation video.

Top 22 Adobe Creative Cloud Alternatives that Are Worth Your Time

These alternatives to Adobe Creative Cloud emulate the functionality Adobe products but are available absolutely free of charge. Using them, you can perform retouching, create drawings and graphic design projects, and improve video clips. These programs will also come in handy if you are engaged in the development of motion graphics, animation, prototypes, and web design.


Best open-source alternative

Price: Free

Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

GIMP is the most popular alternative to Photoshop that emulates numerous features of Adobe software. It is compatible with common file formats, includes numerous pre-installed filters, templates, and brushes. While Photoshop allows you to perform accurate edits and photo manipulations, GIMP is mostly suitable for basic enhancements.

  • GIMP interface
  • GIMP interface
  • GIMP interface GIMP interface
    • Updates are released regularly with fixes
    • Customizable due to plugins and scripts
    • Supports almost all file formats
    • Layers and masks
    • Lack of batch editing

    If you compare GIMP vs Photoshop, the former is great for small businesses or photo enthusiasts who are in search of user-friendly editing software with basic functionality. As for Photoshop, it is a choice of professionals. Although GIMP doesn't have such accurate organization as Photoshop, it comes with a relatively intuitive user interface.

    GIMP includes layers, customizable brushes, filters, and tools for automatic image enhancement. It supports a large number of plug-ins (some of them are preinstalled while others are available for download separately).

    For more advanced users, there are also a lot of possibilities, including layer masks, Bezier curves, filters, and animation packages. Another bragging point is its open-source nature, so experienced users can easily adapt the program to their needs instead of looking for another photo editing software.

    2. Pixlr

    Best online alternative

    Price: Free or $4.90/mo

    Platforms: Online / Mac OS / Windows / Android / iOS

    Pixlr doesn't require downloading installation. However, if you compare Pixlr vs Photoshop, the former has relatively limited functionality than the Adobe product. Nevertheless, it offers more image editing options than pre-installed PC or Mac editing programs.

    • pixlr adobe creative cloud alternative interface
    • pixlr adobe creative cloud alternative interface pixlr adobe creative cloud alternative interface
      • Plug-in support
      • The web version is absolutely free
      • Perfect choice for non-professional tasks
      • Optimized for mobile devices
      • Advertising in a free version

      The functionality of Pixlr is suitable even for those engaged in portrait editing. That is why many users consider this Adobe Creative suite alternative as a simplified web-based version of Photoshop. The main difference between this program and Photoshop for Mac and PC is that it doesn’t offer batch editing functionality.

      Pixlr offers a large choice of filters – both funny and classical (b&w, sepia, film) ones. In addition, this software supports layers and masks for advanced editing. All brushes and other tools are customizable. You can adjust each aspect of your photo manually by customizing colors, exposure, and levels. But there are also automatic tools that can help you enhance your pictures as fast as possible.

      3. PhotoScape X

      Best for photo collages

      Price: Free or $39.99

      Platforms: Mac OS/Windows

      PhotoScape X has a gradual learning curve and fewer features compared to Photoshop. The program allows cutting, resizing, and pasting images. In addition, PhotoScape X doesn’t require much computer resources. You can run it even on weak machines, which is hardly possible with Photoshop.

      • photoscape interface
      • photoscape interface photoscape interface
        • Free version with basic functionality
        • Batch adjustments option
        • Large library of effects and stickers
        • Optimized for weak PCs or laptops
        • Limited functionality in a free version

        PhotoScape X offers tools for easy viewing of photo collections, creating collages and composite images, generating animated GIFs and printing improved images, screenshots, batch renaming of files and color correction.

        PhotoScape X also offers a drawing function. Besides, users appreciate the possibility to apply changes to fragments of one picture and to multiple images in batch mode.

        4. RawTherapee

        Best for RAW files

        Price: Free

        Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

        Like Lightroom, RawTherapee has interesting filters, Crop Tool, and Adjustment brushes for effective editing. However, one of the main differences between RawTherapee vs Lightroom is editing algorithms. Besides, RawTherapee offers all features free of charge, while Lightroom is a paid product with a free trial.

        • RawTherapee interface
        • RawTherapee interface
        • RawTherapee interface RawTherapee interface
          • Supports RAW files
          • Effective cataloger
          • Saves the editing history in a hidden file
          • Inconvenient export
          • Can lag from time to time

          RawTherapee establishes itself as a fast, effective cataloger that supports RAW files and offers the function of management and editing in different picture libraries. This editor has improved color correction, histogram matching and displaying of tones with high dynamic range (HDR). Also, it is supports non-destructive editing.

          It also offers plenty of tools for tone correction, noise removal, rotation, change of shadows and light, exposure control, tone and white balance adjustments, so you can fully rely on the program if you don't want to buy Lightroom.

          5. LightZone

          Best for sharing photos

          Price: Free

          Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

          LightZone is another Creative Cloud alternative with an open-source code and Lightroom-inspired interface. The LightZone vs Lightroom comparison shows that the former doesn’t include many adjustments for batch editing.

          Moreover, LightZone doesn’t offer such efficient workflow as its contender. Nevertheless, if you are a beginner, the available functions are to accomplish all your creative goals.

          • lightzone adobe creative cloud alternative interface
          • lightzone adobe creative cloud alternative interface
          • lightzone adobe creative cloud alternative interface lightzone adobe creative cloud alternative interface
            • Non-destructive editing
            • Image organization right in a browser
            • Stylish interface with a dark theme
            • May be too simplistic for pro users
            • Lags from time to time

            LightZone allows enhancing photos, fixing defects, correcting colors, adjusting white balance, selectively blurring or sharping images, and removing dust and noise. All operations that are performed in this free Lightroom alternative are reversible and don’t affect the original picture.

            You can add seven tone curves or adjust the color in 13 modules. Among its features, I like the “real-time preview” function. One more important feature is its styles which can help you add some creative effects to pictures, including high dynamic range (HDR), sepia, etc.

            6. DarkTable

            Similar interface to Lightroom

            Price: Free

            Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux etc.

            While Lightroom is a useful tool in Adobe’s collection, Darktable is a universal program for editing with broader functionality. The main difference between Darktable vs Lightroom is that the Adobe product is available at the subscription basis while Darktable is distributed free of charge.

            • darktable interface
            • darktable interface
            • darktable interface darktable interface
              • Frequent updates
              • Excellent RAW support
              • Many available formats
              • Can’t be used on mobile devices
              • Slower performance compared to Lightroom

              Darktable features a virtual light table to view RAW photos and a darkroom to enhance pictures. It supports RAW image processing for more than 400 cameras. This software was developed specifically for photographers who want to perfectly organize their images.

              The program can maintain a database of original photos, carry out visual navigation through images, correct distortion, and change the quality without affecting the original image. Also, it keeps a complete history of all operations.

              7. Inkscape

              With easy to use drawing tools

              Price: Free

              Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

              While Illustrator has a rich array of features, beginners opt for Inkscape due to its user-friendly interface and free functionality. This Adobe Illustrator alternative offers drag-and-drop rendering, boolean operations, Node tool, Trace Bitmap tool, and customizable fonts.

              • Inkscape interface
              • Inkscape interface
                • Useful plug-ins
                • Graphics tablet support
                • Allows exporting in many common formats
                • Slow work
                • No possibility to work with CMYK color model
                • Lacks module to import images directly from a scanner

                Inkscape slightly emulates the features of Adobe Illustrator for Mac. However, once you compare Illustrator vs Inkscape, you will see that the bragging point of Inkscape is a Freehand tool (Pencil) and Calligraphy pen. Moreover, with the Bezier tool, you can create paths made up of straight and curved lines.

                With the help of Bezier tool, you can either draw an approximate track that will be changed later or add exact curves on track to minimize work carried out after creating the track. Other tools such as Spray, Eraser and Gradient offer several convenient shortcuts for creating very interesting effects without much effort. For instance, Spray can use another object as a selection.

                8. Affinity Designer

                For professional use

                Price: Free or $54,99

                Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / iPad

                Affinity Designer has the basic features you can find in Illustrator. This program serves the needs of creative professionals who want to produce awesome designs without breaking a bank.

                The Affinity Designer vs Illustrator comparison shows that the Serif software is easier to master than Adobe product. Affinity Designer includes simple functions, and an intuitive and neat interface.

                • affinity designer interface
                • affinity designer interface
                  • Supports AI and EPS files
                  • Convenient Smart Shapes
                  • Supports multi-touch control
                  • Zoom in 1,000,000%
                  • Lack of an image-trace feature
                  • No meshes, not enough scripts and actions
                  • No trace

                  Affinity Designer allow you to create promotional materials, websites, concept arts, icons and other UI elements. Using the program, you can make sketches anywhere and anytime on your iPad, Mac or Windows laptop, and export the finished project in any popular graphics format.

                  You can use layer effects, styles, all types of blending modes and masks. With a 95% probability, Affinity Designer will open PSD files, preserving layer styles, transparency, etc. All these features make Affinity Design a great option if you don't want to buy Adobe Illustrator.

                  9. Vectr

                  For vector arts

                  Price: Free

                  Platforms: Online / Mac OS / Windows / Linux

                  Vectr is a program for creating and modifying vector drawings, which can be used directly in a browser or as desktop software. With its help, you may produce both simple images (logos, emblems, icons) and complex vector illustrations.

                  If you plan to get Adobe Illustrator for free, be ready to use it for a short period. Those who are looking for free Creative Cloud alternatives can make the most out of Vectr.

                  • vectr interface
                    • Many video tutorials on YouTube
                    • WordPress plugin
                    • Collaboration feature
                    • Need to sign up to save files
                    • Ads in the workspace

                    An important advantage of Vectr is the ability to work together with other users. The strongest advantage of the program is that it can work offline, so you can perform the necessary edits even if you don't have the Internet connection.

                    You just need to send your colleagues a link to your project so that they can participate in discussion and editing. Every element of the UI is well-though-out, so mastering the program won’t take much time.

                    10. DaVinci Resolve

                    Free professional software

                    Price: Free or $295

                    Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

                    It is rather complicated to define a winner in the Adobe Premiere vs DaVinci Resolve stand-off. Both programs have similar UIs. However, while Premiere Pro pleases with a broad range of tools and features, DaVinci Resolve also has something to offer. It especially deserves praise for its well-elaborated color correction features.

                    • DaVinci Resolve interface
                    • DaVinci Resolve interface
                      • Download Premiere Pro for Free
                      • Complete audio editing kit
                      • Supports color plug-ins (LUTs)
                      • Steep learning curve
                      • The free version lacks some features

                      Even though this software has a steep learning curve, filmmakers, who don't want to buy Adobe Premiere, will appreciate its capabilities. DaVinci Resolve includes high-performance video production modules for editing, color grading, sound reproduction as well as video effects and motion graphics.

                      This free video editing software offers classic timeline with a multimedia pool, effects and sounds libraries, sound mixer, inspector and the possibility to work with an unlimited number of audio and video tracks. The program also provides new audio plug-ins and functions, editable page title templates, browser of a color pages’ lookup table (LUT) and common color knots.

                      11. VideoPad

                      Easy to use video and audio editing program

                      Price: Free or $19,99

                      Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / iOS / Android

                      VideoPad has a familiar workflow of timeline/storyboard which means you can view your project linearly or each individual object no matter how long it takes. It allows you to easily edit videos, including your own clips, recorded on a digital, tape, or web camera.

                      • VideoPad interface
                      • VideoPad interface
                        • Supports 4K videos
                        • Advanced Chroma key tool
                        • Built-in automatic video stabilizer
                        • Batch video editing
                        • Lack of some professional functions
                        • Possible errors when working with GIF files

                        You can use video transitions and effects, create and edit musical compositions. It is possible to fine-tune all transitions: change duration, angle, color, and speed. This Adobe Premiere Pro alternative works with all popular formats, including 3D.

                        You can crop frames of the footage, pan and zoom, add motion blur and adjust such parameters as shade, saturation, exposure, etc. In addition, this program allows you to import, edit and export 4K videos with ultra-high resolution. You can use Premiere Pro for free only for 7 days, while VideoPad offers a free plan with no time limits.

                        12. HitFilm Express

                        With professional-grade VFX functionality

                        Price: Free or $349

                        Platforms: Mac OS / Windows

                        After comparing Adobe Premiere vs HitFilm, I found out that Adobe Premiere Pro may be rather complicated for novice users. Hitfilm Express brags about more user-friendly functionality.

                        Both programs have such features as multi-track editing, Trim and Text tools. However, the sequence management in HitFilm Express is not as effective as in Premiere Pro.

                        • hitfilm express interface
                        • hitfilm express interface hitfilm express interface
                          • Built-in Boris FX and Imagineer system
                          • Can be extended through an add-one application
                          • High system requirements

                          After you’re done editing a video, you can quickly export it in a high quality. There are two versions of the program - free HitFilm Express and paid HitFilm Pro. The first version has slightly limited capabilities but they are enough for basic tasks. Hitfilm Express offers a lot of built-in templates that will help you do the necessary work without any extra effort.

                          HitFilm Express is a great alternative, allowing you to trim, combine video parts, add music, create transitions and titles, add masks, transformations, and effects (you can create your own), and perform color grading of an unlimited number of tracks. The most popular features among professionals are object tracking, creation of particle systems, 3D object importing, and Chroma key.

                          13. Blender

                          Best for 3D creation

                          Price: Free

                          Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

                          After Effects is a popular program that is designed for creating extraordinary visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing. Blender caters to the needs of those who work with 3D models and animations.

                          If you are going to create complex computer graphics and complement your project with visual effects, Blender is your option in the Blender vs After Effects contest.

                          • Blender interface
                          • Blender interface
                            • Blender vs After Effects Comparison
                            • Professional visual effects
                            • Sculpting, UV unwrapping, and raster graphics editing
                            • A huge number of add-ons
                            • Some tools call for improvement

                            This intuitive editor offers plenty of tools for creating animation films, visual effects, 3D-printed models, 3D applications, and video games. It’s equipped with comprehensive modeling tools, which means you can quickly create, edit and transform models. This motion graphics software provides instruments for falsification and animation. Users can also combine 2D with 3D in a preview window.

                            This alternative to Adobe After Effects has a fluid simulator, which enables users to create the effects of flowing bodies, such as smoke or liquids. In real-time, it is possible to calculate physical tasks, for example, simulate the behavior of soft solids.

                            14. Natron

                            Open-source compositing software

                            Price: Free

                            Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux

                            If you are picking between Natron vs After Effects, pay attention to their features. While After Effects allows you to complement your projects with video effects and animated graphics, Natron incorporates advanced features for professional film production.

                            Moreover, you can get After Effects for free only for seven days. Natron has an open-source code and is available free of charge.

                            • natron interface
                            • natron interface
                              • Supports plug-ins
                              • Works with 4K footage
                              • GPU rendering for acceleration
                              • May be unstable

                              Natron is non-linear video editing software for Windows, which you can take advantage of if you don't want to buy Adobe After Effects. The program allows you to work with an unlimited number of video and audio tracks, add various special effects and apply all kinds of filters.

                              User can also combine several graphic and audio objects into one. Rich functionality, a well-thought-out modular interface, support for 2K and 4K video and OpenFX plug-ins make Natron promising storyboard software.

                              15. Synfig Studio

                              50+ built-in layers

                              Price: Free

                              Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linuxx

                              Even though Synfig has different drawing capabilities than Adobe Animate, it has excellent functionality, 50+ built-in layers. It also allows working with bitmap images, and creating cutout animation. This open-source software is used to create professional 2D animations.

                              • synfig studio interface
                                • Available two versions
                                • It can tween vectors
                                • A convenient timeline
                                • A steep learning curve

                                The program allows you to use vector and raster images to create animations instead of the "frame by frame" method. If you don’t want to get free trial version of Adobe Animate, you can use Synfig Studio with its various types of layers, gradients, distortions, filters, and transitions to create your animation.

                                It also provides full support for gradient paths, making it easy for you to add a soft hue to animation without having to draw it in each frame. Synfig Studio allows you to save animations as SIF (default project), SIFZ (gzip-compressed project), and SFG (zip compressed). You can import multiple images into your project, including PNG, JPEG, BMP, and SVG files.

                                16. Animatron Studio

                                Web-based animation maker

                                Price: Free or $15/mo

                                Platforms: Online

                                Animatron helps create fantastic videos and animations. The program has a user-friendly interface and fascinating characters. The program is based on the latest and safest HTML5 technology, which provides smooth playback on both desktop and mobile devices.

                                • animatron studio interface
                                  • “Drag-and-drop" functionality
                                  • Plenty of assets
                                  • A wide choice of adjustable graphics
                                  • Heavy animations slow down the UI

                                  Animatron also has impressive import options: you can import fonts, images, video, and audio in a variety of formats. Aside from supporting HTML5 exporting formats, Animatron Studio integrates with Google AdWords and DoubleClick.

                                  The library includes 500K royalty-free media files. In addition, there are two modes (for beginners and pros), so you can choose the suitable option and achieve your creative goals.

                                  17. Scribus

                                  With first-class DTP tools

                                  Price: Free

                                  Platforms: Mac OS / Windows / Linux etc.

                                  The Adobe product is a leader in the Scribus vs InDesign battle due to a larger feature set. Moreover, Scribus has an outdated interface. You can use Adobe InDesign only if you pay for its subscription. Scribus is available free of charge.

                                  • Scibus interface
                                  • Scibus interface
                                    • Ready-to-use templates
                                    • Excellent WYSIWYG PDF compressing option
                                    • Confusing
                                    • It can take much time to fix problems

                                    Scribus was originally developed by typography and printing professionals. Therefore, it has quite a wide range of professional text layout and prepress.

                                    This desktop publishing software can help you create all types of documents quickly and effectively – from brochures to business cards. You can use one of the available templates or create the design manually using built-in advanced tools.

                                    18. Lucidpress

                                    Collaborative publishing tool

                                    Price: Free or $10/mo

                                    Platforms: Online

                                    If you can’t choose between Adobe InDesign and Lucidpress, determine your purposes first. While Adobe InDesign has a well-elaborated graphic feature set, Lucidpress is suitable for creating flyers, presentations, brochures, newsletters, etc.

                                    Furthermore, Lucidpress is a web-based program that uses HTML 5 protocols. Therefore, there is no need to launch Flash player to use this program.

                                    • lucidpress interface
                                    • lucidpress interface
                                      • Offers numerous templates
                                      • Very simple management
                                      • High-quality templates
                                      • Free capabilities are limited
                                      • It occupies no more than 25 MB on the server

                                      When you start Lucidpress, you’ll see a document containing several pages to which you can add your content. You can drag text fields and images around, redraw pictures, choose from hundreds of available fonts or upload your own fonts and more.

                                      This InDesign alternative is an easy-to-use tool, but with limited free features. You can’t edit documents that contain over 3 pages. In addition, you can use only 25 MB of storage.

                                      19. Shutterstock

                                      350+ million images

                                      Price: Free or $29/mo

                                      Platforms: Online

                                      Adobe Stock guarantees smooth workflow and compatibility with all Creative Cloud products. However, if you compare Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock, the Creative Cloud alternative is more budget-friendly and includes a more extensive library of stock images. Thus is a number one choice for those who need stock images.

                                      • shutterstock interface
                                        • Images almost on any topic
                                        • The keyword searching system
                                        • Pictures can be used without attribution after paying for the license
                                        • Compensation for artists is low
                                        • The slow approval process for participants

                                        Shutterstock brags about the largest collection of images, music, video, and editorial assets. The best thing is that most pictures are available free of charge. Finding a proper photo won’t take much time, thanks to intuitive search and filter functions.

                                        Shutterstock’s Editor tool also lets you customize a photo quickly and perform operations like cropping pics and adding filters. If you are preparing a project and plan to share it on YouTube, this is the best place to search for components. The thing is that YouTube and similar platforms scan videos for copyright, and when you use content from Shutterstock, all license nuances are completely covered.

                                        20. Dreamstime

                                        Excellent stock community

                                        Price: Free or $23/mo

                                        Platforms: Online

                                        Dreamstime is a popular place for getting pictures for magazines, advertising agencies, and media companies. Having compared Dreamstime to similar platforms, I can confidently say that it contains the most affordable visual materials, ensuring their quality is on point.

                                        • dreamstime interface
                                          • No ID is required during registration
                                          • Images are accepted in several formats
                                          • Long photo checkup
                                          • A limited number of loaded pictures a day

                                          The collection contains over 169 million pictures, music, video, vectors, sound effects, and illustration. You can choose from different subscription plans and credit packs based on your financial capabilities. Either you need some cheap stock images or want to earn money by selling yours, Dreamstime is a wonderful place to visit.

                                          It is possible to get Adobe Stock for free only for a week. If it comes to Dreamstime, you can try a 7-day trial, but the number of photos for downloading is limited.

                                          21. Sketch

                                          With streamlined collaboration functionality

                                          Price: Free or $9/mo

                                          Platforms: Mac OS / Online

                                          While Adobe XD is a popular option for Windows users, Sketch is suitable for Mac fans and those who need good plug-in support. When I compared Sketch vs Adobe XD, I understood that the former was a great program for creating desktop and mobile interface layouts, prototypes, and mockups.

                                          • sketch interface
                                            • A highly professional Interface Design Tool
                                            • User-friendly interface
                                            • Convenient work with text
                                            • Problems while working with large files

                                            Sketch can come in handy if you want to edit and manipulate images. Unlike most drawing software, Sketch makes it easy to create interactive prototypes. For example, to emulate the prototype of your website or application and see how you can scroll down the screen, you can choose the scrolling or non-scrolling areas, create cross-linking between pages, sections, menus, and define hotspots.

                                            This Adobe Creative suite alternative is especially demanded among teams due to its collaborative features. Once you import a file to Sketch Cloud, you can use libraries and organize teamwork to edit your project.

                                            22. InVision

                                            Advanced prototyping tools

                                            Price: Free or $7.95

                                            Platforms: Windows / Mac / Online

                                            If you choose between Adobe XD vs Invision, it is necessary to consider the capabilities of each product. You can get Adobe XD to create websites, mobile applications, voice, Augmented reality, and Virtual Reality projects, games, etc.

                                            InVision allows creating prototypes for only desktop and mobile platforms. Nevertheless, with the help of this program, you can create animations and work offline.

                                            • invision interface
                                              • You can order all projects on a single screen
                                              • Integrated Craft plugin in Sketch
                                              • Boards are used for making a quick portfolio or as a style guide
                                              • Some limitations in the web app

                                              There are multiple features for joint work, conducting experiments with templates, realizing different ideas, etc. An integrated digital dashboard allows visualizing concepts to understand how successful there are.

                                              The most popular features of InVision are prototype creation, presentations, wireframing, digital whiteboards, planning, and feedback management. Thanks to the Inspect module, you can speed up your overall workflow and prototype development in particular.

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