What has happened to Photoshop? First, it’s a gargantuan beast of an application, aimed primarily at professional graphic designers, not the common man. For that, there’s Photoshop Elements, a stripped down Photoshop of the Lite variety. While Photoshop needs to be rented by the month, Photoshop Elements is priced under $100.
Are their viable alternatives? Yes, one highly recommended, and one that is free. If you can afford $30, there’s Pixelmator, the closest approximation of Photoshop you can find on a Mac, and maybe the best value graphic design app.
What about a free replacement app for Photoshop?
If free is your game, then about the only worthy game in town is GIMP on OS X. Yes, GIMP lives, and on the Mac.
GIMP is the Mac version of GIMP– GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s also much like Photoshop. Well, Photoshop from 2001. For Mac users on a budget, or for those new to Mac graphic design tools (and also on a budget) GIMP is decent and capable if not a little overwhelming in complexity.
Unlike the 21st century charcoal pro look in Photoshop and Pixelmator, GIMP remains a gray lady, single window app which runneth over in options.
GIMP is donationware, but comes with plenty of professional level tools, including options for plug-ins and extensions (think scripting), yet doubles as a very good photo retouching app for those on a budget.
Some of the plug-ins include tools that can reduce noise, add focus-blur, and even support RAW images. What you need to understand about GIMP is the obvious– it’s a community-based project to provide an alternative to the never-ending price gouging that makes up Adobe’s new app rental format.
If your graphic design needs are not cutting edge, GIMP on OS X is a decent alternative and priced right.