The best Photoshop alternatives for iPad are way more than just poorly-constructed imitations of Adobe’s image editing software.
These alternatives have become more sophisticated and some are not only going toe to toe and matching what Photoshop has to offer, but they’re also giving their customers a few unique and innovative features of their own.
Yes, some are still not as powerful as Adobe’s image manipulation program, but even these alternatives have their rightful place on the list because they are typically way cheaper, sometimes even completely free.
Besides, most people usually don’t even need all of Photoshop’s features, especially if they’re only going to edit pictures rather than making more technical and advanced manipulations.
In this review, you will find alternatives that offer the kind of photo editing features you get from Photoshop. If you’re looking for options that will allow you to edit pictures without forcing you to have to make advanced manipulations, you’re where you need to be.
These alternatives were picked based on hands-on reviews and we’ve looked at ease of use, features, and value for the money. You can only get Photoshop with a subscription, but a lot of the alternatives below require a one-off payment, and some are even free.
From its wide array of features to its innovative interface, this photo editing program for iPad is the closest alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Designed mainly for professional designers and photographers, Affinity Photo is completely compatible with Photoshop.
It’s also much more affordable than its Adobe counterpart in the long term since you don’t have to get an ongoing subscription and you can just make a one-off payment. It is also a lot less demanding on computer hardware compared to Photoshop.
However, that’ll also largely depend on the kind of equipment you are using. Many interesting features come with Affinity Photo, particularly ‘Personas’ (customized toolkits for different tasks) which can prove incredibly useful.
You can get Affinity Photo both on Windows and Mac. But there is also a separate model for iPads. If you’re in search of a great alternative to Photoshop, that’s also more affordable, then you may want to strongly consider taking a closer look at Affinity Photo.
If you want a painting application for your iPad, then Procreate is a very good Photoshop alternative. What began as a rather basic drawing application has slowly become one of the most professional tools in the industry, so much so, it has even won a few Apple Design Awards.
Procreate has an easy-to-use layout with lots of features that designers and photographers will adore, from unique digital tools and advanced layer composting to true-to-life inks and pencils. It also has an added palm support feature which means users don’t have to worry anymore about accidentally drawing over their canvases.
Procreate supports both second and first-generation Apple Pencils, but that also depends on the iPad model. The 5.2 updates introduced a lot of interesting new tools, including the ability to use AR to view 3D models, page assist, stroke stabilization, and 3D model painting.
Okay, the program might not have all the Photoshop features used for editing pictures, but when it specifically comes to digital painting, you will have nearly everything you would need. You can check out the tool’s free handbook to get an overview of the tools and features on the app.
This free handbook is on the Procreate site.
If you are in search of software that’ll offer you true-to-life painting experiences, then Escape Motion’s Rebelle will give you exactly that. This affordable software replicates and imitates traditional painting methods with absolute authenticity, which helps make it one of the best Photoshop alternatives out there.
The app does a fantastic job at mimicking how paint behaves in real-time, which allows the user to simulate drops of color being blown and then running them in different directions. You can also specify drip size, blow length, and how much water you intend to use with the paints.
The Tilt option allows the colors to run in the directions you choose.
Rebelle 5, the program’s latest update, had lots of new advanced features that work great on iPads. Some of these features include pigment color mixing applications (which allow users to paint using traditional pigments such as ultramarine, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, and several others), real-time zoom, Express Oils, a Photoshop plugin, etc.
This highly professional painting program by Escape Motions will continue to concentrate on traditional media and find the best ways to showcase this in the digital space.
Thanks to the continued advancements in the web tech scene, you might not always need discrete apps to help you perform some of the tasks Photoshop does. A case in point is this Photoshop alternative that runs in the browser.
Made to be a highly advanced editor with professional tools, it’s very similar to Photoshop in the sense that it has all the features and tools you’d require for everyday image manipulations.
It can open most traditional file formats, like RAW, PNG, and JPG, and it will also accept GIMP, Sketch, and even Photoshop’s PSD files.
Photopea supports layer masks and layers, allows you to use blend modes, and has a wide array of selection tools, from quick selection tools and a magnetic lasso to standard marquees that work great on iPads.
While you may not get some of the advanced features and tools you would from Photoshop, like content-aware fill, etc., it’s still got way more than enough to keep most photographers and designers happy.
In addition to all this, it is completely free. However, one huge downside of this is that you’ll have to deal with adverts.
Although, you won’t have to deal with ads if you pay for a premium package.
This is another great Photoshop alternative for iPads for those people in search of digital painting experiences that mimic the real thing.
It provides realistic canvas textures, watercolors, pencils, oils, and several other traditional media painting features and tools, most of which you can fully customize, imitating old-school art studios and putting them in digital form.
ArtRage’s makers claim that the platform is “a canvas for thick, expressive oils and delicate watercolors, a sketchpad with a full set of pencils, and a sheet of paper with a stack of wax crayons all in one.”
Vitae, the program’s latest version for macOS and Windows was recently released. Some of its highlights include allowing you to create natural color gradients by virtually blending and smearing thick oils, creating watercolor strokes that delicately react to your canvas texture, and sketching with pencils.
Like many visual editing programs, there are perspective layout tools, grids, guides, blend modes, and layers on this app.
If you’ve never done digital painting before and you want an intuitive and affordable piece of software, then ArtRage is an alternative you should strongly consider trying out. The software is available for Android and iOS, but you’ll have to pay for these applications separately.
This professional vector graphics application for creatives and artists has had a huge buzz surrounding it since it came to life in 2010. It is a very flexible image editing software that supports vector shapes and infinite zooming for multiple resolutions on the iPad.
You can use the Pencil or Vector tool to build new graphics from scratch or build new graphics from primitive shapes. It has a rather simple user interface which has a lot of features similar to what you’d get from Photoshop, including style presets, color pickers, gradients, and layers.
Also, being that it’s so popular means you have access to many different community-created plugins to choose from, which can help you improve its functionality.
Other interesting features of this image editing software include real-time collaboration (meaning developers and designers can measure, inspect, and view designs on any operating system, in any browser, for free). The program also has document permissions that can help you limit who’s allowed to make adjustments to specific designs.
The new math operations in place help make it easier and faster to edit, while the Linked Data features allow you to create better prototypes and mock-ups with real information and images that relate to their specific designs.
Pixelmator is a Photoshop-like tool for macOS only and brings together a painting tool, illustration, and photo editor all in one place. It provides non-destructive picture editing and supports things like split view, fullscreen, and tabs which work great on iPads.
The user interface is very minimalist and will not confuse newbies. Plus there is another ‘hidden interface’ option that allows users to check their pictures without distractions.
Pixelmator is limited when it comes to features compared with its original predecessor. However, with that said, it’s still fast, light, and fun to use, and if you want to do some basic image editing, this might just be what you need.
It has a Magic Background Eraser feature that allows the user to remove the backgrounds from any picture with just a click. The Select and Mask application allows the user to make advanced selections easily of troublesome photo areas like fur or hair.
Pixelmator Pro also has support for the M1 Ultra chip by Apple for Mac Studio, alongside slimmed-down applications for iPad and iPhone dubbed Pixelmator Photo and Pixelmator.
This free, open-source image editing program similar to Photoshop known as GIMP has been in play for quite some time now. Today you can get it for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
If you’re wondering what GIMP stands for, it’s GNU Image Manipulation Program. It provides users with a wide variety of features and toolsets similar to Photoshop and is perfect for those in search of a no-cost alternative.
The user interface is a bit different compared to Photoshop, but you can get a version that imitates Adobe’s feel and look, which helps make it easier to ditch Photoshop and migrate over to GIMP. The complete suite of tools and features includes cloning, color correction, painting tools, selection, and enhancement.
It also has sufficient compatibility functions that allow the user to work with all the popular file formats. It also features a more than capable in-built file manager that’s sort of similar to Adobe’s Bridge.
As an open-source platform, this software is always being improved. In 2021, the company made various kinds of improvements to the PSD support system, so if you tried this app before and did not like it, then you might want to strongly consider giving it a second look.
If you are looking for a free program for digital painting, then this is a fantastic Photoshop alternative. As an open-source image editing platform, it is made by artists and creatives who want to provide others like them with access to affordable and quality software even on iPads.
This team put most of their focus on features and tools they know people like them will need and want. Some of these features that are particularly impressive are the brush tools function, which has about 100 brush types, a brush stabilizer, and nine brush engines.
Krita 5, the latest version rectifies a lot of the previous system bugs with loading and tagging resources, and a handful of several other user interface issues. This update will also help make the program faster and it will enhance the gradient tools as well.
It has a very similar user interface to Photoshop, so people who are accustomed to Adobe’s program will find Krita both easy to use and understand. However, one major downside is that as a digital painter, this app doesn’t have some of the important photo editing functions you might need.
Pixlr is made up of three toolsets that work through Android and iOS apps and in the browser as well as on iPad. This is ideal for those of you looking to give your image editing works a quick improvement using one-click artistic effects and edits on your iPad.
If you’re accustomed to using Adobe’s Photoshop, then you should not have a problem quickly understanding how to use this app’s user interface because they’re pretty similar. Pixlr is a substantial picture editing program that has a wide variety of useful image editing tools and functionalities.
This artificial intelligence-powered app focuses on one main thing, to help you get rid of backgrounds in your photographs. All three applications are absolutely free, with paid options in case you want access to advanced features.
This image editing program by CyberLink provides users with powerful artificial intelligence-based tools. Users will be able to edit pictures with advanced color controls and eye-catching visual effects on their iPad.
It has very intuitive layer editing functionalities and is generally an easy-to-use program with many advanced capabilities. In addition, it also offers priority customer support.
You can use this tool to add visual effects like Photo Animation, Glitch Effects, Light Rays, and dispersion. It also provides its users with features such as AI-powered sky replacement, AI style effects, etc.
If you compare this app with Adobe’s Photoshop, then you’ll be getting a great alternative that’s got flexible pricing packages and is generally very cost-effective. While Photoshop is mostly for graphic designing tasks, PhotoDirector is specifically meant for professional image editing purposes.
Canva is an image editing and graphic design tool that came to life in 2012 and was meant for both professionals and beginners alike. The tool uses drag-and-drop intuitiveness and is generally very simple, in turn, helping promote a user-friendly interface.
Additionally, this app allows you to collaborate with other team members to create great designs such as business cards, logos, presentations, etc. It also has a photo straightener feature that allows users to keep their pictures inline and picture croppers so that they can crop their photographs for beautiful composition and framing.
Canva is ideal for those of you looking for an image editing program that allows you to creatively and innovatively collaborate with others on an interactive user interface that has several helpful tools including things like vectors, graphs, maps, infographics, etc.
This designing and photo editing software has easy-to-use features and tools that can help you create stunning and powerful social media ads, cover photos, posts, etc., on your iPad
Also, this Photoshop alternative comes with over 6,000 in-built textures and graphics, thousands of design templates, hundreds of beautiful fonts, and lots of eye-catching collages.
You can use this app to edit your images with dozens of filters and effects, mask images and layers, as well as modify and add text to the pictures. The platform has more than 2,000 customizable templates and more than 60 pre-set blank canvases to allow you to create multi-photograph designs.
In addition to all this, the program also allows you to touch up your photographs by changing hair and eye color, removing wrinkles, whitening teeth, and so on. There’s also cloud storage space you can access via your mobile device or computer to organize your pictures with folders.
14. Sumo Paint
Sumo Paint was launched in 2008 and since coming into existence it’s managed to reach great heights, now boasting nearly 30 million active users globally. It’s a powerful drawing and painting app. This great Photoshop alternative has also been featured as the main app for Chromebooks and was selected as the EDU platform for Google.
Furthermore, the brand also has a community with over 900,000 registered voters.
Using this image editing software means you’ll have access to over 300 brushes, a gradient editor, offline creativity, and shape tools that work well with iPads. Other interesting features include perspective mapping, layer effects, linear blur, cube designer, reflection, and bump mapping.
On the other hand, the advanced settings in the program include things like sphere designer, mosaic, auto-smoothing, profile statistics, filter controls, etc. Okay, yes, Sumo Paint is free, but you may not have access to some of the advanced settings until you pay for the pro plan.
The paid version is ad-free and has offline functionality with a dedicated technical support team.
This free photo-editing application comes with a lot of image manipulation features and tools. It’s a great Photoshop alternative for iPad and is incredibly easy to use.
The application is compatible with Google, which is an added advantage when it comes to reputation and quality. You can use the app to fine-tune and edit things like shadows, curves, contrast, brightness, saturation, and so much more.
This is a great photo editing tool that’s user-friendly and ideal for both professional and amateur image editors.
These are some of the best Photoshop alternatives currently on the market and many of them have similar benefits, uses, and functionalities. Great alternatives aren’t always necessarily designed to compete with the original, rather they’re there to provide you with options.
With that said, undoubtedly the best alternative of them all is the Affinity Photo program. Not only does it have a similar interface to Abobe’s Photoshop, but you don’t have to pay for any subscriptions and have the option for a one-off payment.
It’s truly the closest thing you’ll find to Photoshop, especially if you’re looking for something specifically for iPads. There is a separate application for those, however.
Anyway, even though Photoshop is arguably the most trusted and most powerful image editing software on the market, all these other alternatives can hold their own in that space.
Cassie Riley has a passion for all things marketing and social media. She is a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, language, music, writing, and unicorns. Cassie is a lifetime learner, and loves to spend time attending classes, webinars, and summits.