Tech Tips & Tricks, Video Editing
The best free alternatives to Adobe Creative Cloud 2017
The finest free software for designers, illustrators, photographers, and artists
Free alternatives to Adobe CC
Starting next month, Adobe is raising the price of its Creative Cloud suite in countries including the UK, Brazil, and Sweden to reflect changes in foreign exchange rates. That’s bad news for photographers, videographers and artists – particularly amateurs who might struggle to justify the extra expense.
Thankfully for cash-strapped creatives, there are some brilliant free alternatives to Creative Cloud’s key apps – some so similar to their Adobe counterparts there’s virtually no learning curve.
These free programs can’t replace premium software for professional creatives, but for hobbyists they’re ideal. Use them together with a cloud storage service like DropBox or OneDrive, and you’ll have access to your creations wherever and wherever you need it.
The best free InDesign alternative: Scribus
Create great-looking, print-ready posters, newsletters and magazines
If you’ve ever used Adobe InDesign, you’ll have no trouble at all with Scribus; the two programs are extremely similar, using a system of grids, frames and layers to create great-looking PDFs. The two programs’ interfaces and workflows are almost identical (members of the TechRadar team with a background in print media can attest to this), and Scribus has all the tools you need to get your documents ready for professional printing, including font management and color profiles.
Scribus comes with a small selection of templates designed for single-page or folded documents (including business cards, brochures and newsletters) and more are available to download free. These are mostly for single-page documents; for multi-page newletters and magazines, it’s better to create your own layouts and save them as master pages.
Our only real complaint is that pagination – despite being very important for publishing – is tucked away in the document settings rather than the Arrange Pages dialog, where it is in InDesign. That aside, Scribus is a top-notch replacement for InDesign.
The best free Photoshop alternative: GIMP
Refine your photos or create your own artwork from scratch, with support for Photoshop plugins
GIMP is a totally free, open source photo editor that’s as close to Photoshop as you can get without a credit card. It’s in constant development, with frequent updates to add new features and squish bugs (take a look at the release notes for more details), and despite its power, it’s surprisingly easy to use – especially if you’re used to Adobe’s system of menus and toolbars. There are drawing tools, layers, filters and a host of plugins that give you granular control over your images. It even supports Photoshop extensions.
GIMP’s main drawback as a Photoshop substitute is portability; there’s no mobile version, and although there’s a portable app, it’s too large to fit on an ordinary USB stick (and that’s before you’ve started installing extra plugins and fonts).
If you’d prefer a photo editor that you can use anywhere, try Pixlr Editor. It’s not quite as flexible as GIMP, with no support for third-party extensions, but it’s otherwise very similar.
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