Free and Open Source Software for Photographers and Graphic Designers (part 2)

This is the second part of Free and Open Source Software for Photographers and Graphic Designers. In the first part we discussed image viewers, monitor calibration and color control tools, and photo and meta data management.

Now it’s time to edit those photos.

Raw Photo Editors:

1. RawTherapee

RawTherapee is an excellent alternative to Adobe Lightroom. It has the same ability to collect, organize, process, develop, and touch up many different photos. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

2. Darktable

Darktable is similar to RawTherapee but it is only available for Mac and Linux operating systems.

3. DigiKam

This application also provides a comprehensive set of tools for importing, managing, editing, and sharing photos and raw files across all three platforms, i.e. Windows, Mac and Linux.

4. UFRaw

The Unidentified Flying Raw (UFRaw) is a utility to read and manipulate raw images from digital cameras. It can be used on its own or as a Gimp plug-in.

Photo Touch-up and Image Manipulation:

  1. GIMP

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP can do most of what Photoshop can do. It is an open-source free graphic design software that debuted on Unix-based platforms. Today it’s available in versions for Linux, Windows, and Mac. There are a number of free plug-ins available for GIMP which provide a lot of extra functionality. The interface is a bit different from Photoshop, so if you are used to working on Photoshop it may take some time to adjust. Or you can customize the keyboard shortcuts to mimic Photoshop’s.

2. Krita

Krita was designed with the VFX industry and concept artists, illustrators, matte and texture artists in mind. It is a free and open source painting tool available for all three platforms. It comes with a full set of brushes suitable for all manner of work, and there’s a whole host of plugins available, from advanced filters to painting assistants for perspective work and a wraparound mode for texture painting. But it is not just for digital painting. It is also a very powerful tool when it comes to image manipulation. And it is available for all three platforms i.e. Windows, Mac and Linux.

3. CinePaint

CinePaint started as a fork of the Gimp project, the goal is to create a more professional graphical editing application aimed at the movie industry. It is a deep paint image retouching tool that supports higher color fidelity than ordinary painting tools. CinePaint opens high fidelity image file formats such as DPX, 16-bit TIFF, and OpenEXR, and conventional formats like JPEG and PNG. Also available for all three platforms.

4. Hugin

With Hugin you can assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and much more. It is an easy to use cross-platform application.

5. Pixlr

Pixlr is a free app available for web, iOS and Android. It boasts more than 600 effects, overlays, and borders and lets you do all the main things you’d expect from a photo editor, from cropping and re-sizing to removing red-eye and whitening teeth. Since its interface is quite similar to Photoshop’s, people find it very easy to use.


In the focus is on ease of use with an inclination to photo editing rather than artistic creation. But there is a range of special effects available, allowing you to easily create fake perspective, blend and push pixels around the canvas, tile and repeat selections, and so on. A good range of selection tools, support for layers, and adjustments such as curves and brightness/contrast mean that is a great alternative to Photoshop for photo editing. It is only available for Windows.

7. SumoPaint

SumoPaint is a browser-based image editor but you can buy the Pro version which allows you to install a desktop version of the app. The standard range of tools and adjustments you’d expect are all included. Brushes, pencils, shapes, text, cloning, gradients, etc can all be quickly accessed in an interface which is somewhat similar to Photoshop. It can also open saved documents from your hard drive, making Sumopaint a perfectly viable option for editing and reediting. The only drawback is that you need the Adobe Flash Player to use this tool, and since most modern browsers are not supporting Flash anymore, it can be a problem.

(This is the second part in the series. Also check out the first part, third part and fourth part.)

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