Almost 2 years ago, I somewhat unexpectedly got laid off from my graphic design position at a small local studio, where I had been working for over 15 years. As I collected unemployment, I began to build up two of my own businesses: Paul Micarelli Design & Fantasy Photos.
Obviously, being on a tight budget meant that I wasn't really looking to pay the monthly subscription costs that Adobe now requires. As I was looking for open source or free alternatives for image editing software & vector graphics, I was already familiar with GIMP, which I use for my Fantasy Photos business on my laptop to do simple photo editing.
I also found Affinity Designer, which combines many of the features of both Photoshop & Illustrator into one program. There was a one-time fee to buy the software that was less than $100, so after testing it for the free trial, I purchased it. It has been my main graphic program ever since, with about 90% of the functions I need on a daily basis for my design work.
However, despite it's versatility, there are alot of editing features in Photoshop that Affinity Designer is missing. GIMP is useful, but the interface and tools can be cumbersome.
Recently on Reddit I came across a comment thread about a free online photo editor called Photopea, created by sole developer .
I gave it a shot & it is really an awesome program. It has many of the features used in Photoshop that are either missing in Affinity Designer, or are a pain in the ass to use in GIMP. The only downside is that you need to be online to use it, but when I'm at my desk working, I'm always online anyway- so it's not that big of a deal. (After just looking at a support thread, I found out that once you load Photopea into the browser, you can actually use it offline.)
I'm not going to get into all the features, but I'm just going to say that it's the closest thing to a free version of Photoshop that I've found, and I'm starting to use it alot. I was just using it today to create animated GIF banners, which is not possible or feasible in the other programs.
If you are a designer, photo editor, or creative professional looking for a Photoshop alternative, I would highly recommend checking out this free, yet powerful, photo software.