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Best Photoshop Alternatives to Ease Your Work

Photoshop has been out on the market for a long time and there isn’t a designer who hasn’t heard about it. That’s a fact. Professionals use it to edit everything, from photos, movies, to anything graphic design related. Undoubtedly, Photoshop is a leader among the editing tools, and rightly so. The multitude of features and options it comes with make it a software for the advanced. Unfortunately, its complexity can be an impossible labyrinth for some, an unpenetrable mystery. For this very reason, we decided to make all your lives easier by putting together a handy list of the best Photoshop alternatives. 

We know the hassle that Photoshop comes with, and we know the price. Not only does it need hundreds of hours of practice until you get familiarized with it, but it can also be quite costly for designers at the beginning of their career. Our goal on Webdesignledger is to make designers’ work as enjoyable as possible through accessible resources. Today’s blog post is for those who have been looking for Photoshop alternatives that are easier to use and more affordable. Check these out and choose your favorite:

Krita

The reasons we love this tool are quite numerous. We’ll start with our favorite: it’s free. Don’t we all like free quality products? Krita is Photoshop’s younger sister, they look and feel very similar. It’s feature-rich and highly recommended by the people online. We recommend you all to use Krita as a Photoshop alternative because:

it has a ton of cool effects

it offers a multitude of templates on different subjects

you can use it on tablets

Unfortunately, Krita doesn’t keep the history of your edits, nor does it have a camera RAW filter. But these little negatives don’t matter so much when all the other features complement each other so well.

Sumopaint

One of the downsides of Photoshop is that you need room for it. You may have to delete stuff on your computer in order to install it. This is where Sumpaint comes into action. This amazing alternative is an online tool which means you can keep everything on your laptop in place. Sumopaint is on our list today because:

it’s super easy to use

it has plenty of features

it offers support for layers and blending modes

Multi-Layer (Android)

Edit on the go with your tablet or smartphone with this amazing Photoshop alternative. Multi Layer beats all the other phone tools with its richness of features. Believe it or not, the app offers grit support and even support for blending and layers. Being a free tool, they have to financially support the app through ads which will pop up at times. But even so, we love it for:

its simple utilization

its curve editing feature

its multitude of options

GIMP

Unlike Krita which doesn’t feature a history toolbar, GIMP does! It is also free and that always makes us happy. Plus, what if I told you that it’s able to do almost everything that Photoshop can, sometimes even better? No wonder people recommend it so much online as a Photoshop alternative. It’s easy to work with and we wouldn’t trade it for Photoshop as:

it offers layers support and blending modes

it features a history toolbar

it supports image slicing and Rulers and Guides

Affinity Photo

We dare to say that Affinity Photo is better than Photoshop. First, let’s start with the price. Compared to Photoshop, Affinity Photo is so much cheaper! With a one-off payment, you are good to go. Its creators openly affirmed that the aspects Photoshop lacks in, they’ve got it covered. Affinity Photo is among the best on the market, and this is why:

it’s much faster than Photoshop

crashes less than Photoshop

features unlimited undos

Sketch

This list could not exist without Sketch. The tool is as feature rich as flexible. Although it is a paid software, you get a ton for the price. And that’s due to the numerous community-created plugins you can access anytime to extend its functionality. The only downside to Sketch is its limited platform availability. Unless you are a Mac user you can’t enjoy this amazing tool. But even so, we applaud it for:

its infinite zooming

the ability to build a new graphic with the vector and pencil tool

including color picker, layers, gradients, and style presets

Pixlr

This app is for free. You’ll want to know this little detail when I tell you that it comes with more than 600 effects. Pixlr is that app that you must have on downloaded on your phone for quick edits that actually look good. Crop, resize, whiten teeth if needed, it’s all possible with Pixlr. We added the app to our list due to:

its simplicity

its availability on iOS and Android

the 600 effects, overlays, and borders

Aviary

Aviary specializes in basic editing and it does it in style. It’s a super tool for editing images into memes and not only. It’s easy to use, yet full of features. You can edit small details such as blemishes, add stickers, and change the depth of focus. Aviary can be accessed both online and on phones. We mostly like that:

it’s free and the online editor is add free

it comes with a wide range of tools

it’s easy to use

Which Photoshop alternative do you use? We would love to know your recommended tools and what makes them special in the comment section below. Also, stay up to date with the latest news and trends in design by visiting us daily. We strive to bring the best and most useful content and would appreciate if you liked, shared, and subscribe to our blog.

10 Beautiful Free Photoshop Brushes for Your Web Design Projects

10 Beautiful Free Photoshop Brushes for Your Web Design Projects

If you’re the kind of Photoshop user who primarily opens the software to resize and crop images, you might never touch the Brush tool. However, if you’re in Photoshop day-in and day-out, Brushes are likely to be your best friend. Having as many options as possible will undoubtedly make your life a little better. And if those options are free, then maybe it will be a lot better.

1. Dispersion

Free Photoshop Brushes

While many brushes emulate real-world artists’ tools, not every single one does so. Dispersion is a free Photoshop brush that gives you the unique effect of shattering (or dispersing) parts of your work. Doing an effect like this by hand would be incredibly time-consuming. But with Dispersion, a few clicks and strokes…and you’re good to go. This particular set comes with 20 high-resolution brushes for pretty much anything that you could want to do with it.

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2. Lens Flare

Free Photoshop Brushes

It may have been given a bad rap in pop culture lately because of its overuse in some movies, but lens flare is an effectthat can really take a design to the next level. Using it sparingly and effectively in your designs can give a feeling of peace and calm or even of adventure and excitement just by placing a single flare in a work. Don’t overdo it with this set of 20 high-res brushes, and your work will undoubtedly impress your clients.

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3. Comic

Free Photoshop Brushes

Superheroes are everywhere these days, and at some point, a client is going to want a comic- or superhero-themed design. You might as well prepare yourself for that by downloading this 15-brush set, aptly called Comic. There is no way that having this set of brushes won’t save you time and effort.

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4. Spray Paint

Free Photoshop Brushes

The creative nerds over at Creative Nerds have put together some delightfully pretty spray paint-themed free Photoshop brushes for you to download. This one does cost you an email address to unlock the freeness, but it’s worth it. While PS does come with some spray brushes, they can be pretty limited. The nerds have done a great job of letting your brush strokes more realistically splatter the digital canvas with the speckles that give real spray paint its allure.

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5. Watercolor Splatters

Free Photoshop Brushes

If spray painting isn’t your style, but you really like that abstract look, maybe the Watercolor Splatters 32-brush set will work for you. Even in more specific and detailed work, you can use a splatter brush for accent and distressing.

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6. Stone 4

Free Photoshop Brushes

Stone 4 is actually full of 15 free Photoshop brushes. Instead of having to deal with masks and layers to achieve a stone-like finish, wouldn’t you just prefer to press B and pick a brush to do it for you? We certainly would. In terms of a time-saving brush that will certainly improve your quality-of-life, Stone 4 doesn’t disappoint. While some brushes and styles go in and out of trend, having a solid, stone brush that you can turn to never goes out of style. Clients will always need this kind of look to emphasize professional power and authority, so grab these 15 and help empower them. There is also a Stone 1-3, too. Stone 3 is extra pretty, too.

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7. Shattered

Free Photoshop Brushes

Much like Dispersion at the top of the list, Shattered gives you a fantastic effect that can improve your quality of life and give clients a unique design in much less time than hand-creating every shard. While we generally see this kind of effect in logos and advertising, there are a lot of uses for it in web design that can create some unique page transitions and effects. And at least with this broken glass, you don’t have to worry about cutting your fingers.

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8. Smoke Brushes

Free Photoshop Brushes

Smoke is one of those elements that you can use in pretty much any design for any reason, and it would fit. So grabbing Smoke Brushes is a no-brainer, we think. Whether you’re enhancing the mystique of an evening’s photoshoot, giving website users a tour of mystery, or adding wispy whimsy to lettering or illustration, this set of free Photoshop brushes will be right at home in any designer’s toolbox.

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9. Glitch

Free Photoshop Brushes

Retro technology is everywhere right now. What is old is new again, and what is new again at this moment is ’80s-style technology. And while for its day, the tech was amazing, we’ve come to associate the occasional fuzzy screen and flicker or glitch with the time period as well. Because it’s so trendy and popular, keeping a few brushes to emulate the glitches of decades past would not be a bad idea. In fact, it would be a good one. Additionally, this isn’t the only set of Glitch brushes available. As you scroll down the page for this particular set, you will find over a dozen variants in the series to create whatever kind of computer problems or corruption your clients might need.

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10. Glitter

Free Photoshop Brushes

In life, glitter can be a pain. While it’s gorgeous and adds sparkle to literally anything, that sparkle is sometimes hardimpossible to get rid of. Not true in the digital realm, where you can add as much glitter to your designs as you or your clients want. This is the one time that it’s okay to glitterbomb someone or something. There’s no clean up required, and there won’t be any tiny pieces stuck to places you don’t want. With these fabulous free Photoshop brushes, any design you create will shine as bright as you can imagine.

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The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Using
“The Golden Ratio”.

Designers everywhere should know about the Golden Ratio. It is a mathematical ratio that creates aesthetically pleasing designs. Since the Golden Ratio exists so frequently in nature, it’s not a surprise that its results are natural-looking.

Golden Ratio
Golden Ratio

Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash

The Golden Ratio goes by several other names, too:

  • Divine Proportion
  • Golden Mean
  • Golden Section
  • Phi (Greek letter)

The Math Behind the Golden Ratio

I’m going to explain the Golden Ratio’s math as simply as possible and without going into the details you don’t actually need to know. If you can keep up with the math, great. But if you can’t, that’s okay – you’ll still be able to use the concept in your designs.

To understand the Golden Ratio, you have to first understand the Golden Rectangle

The Golden Rectangle is a large rectangle that has a square inside it. The sides of the square are equal to the shortest length of the rectangle:

Golden Ratio

Source: Wikipedia

The Golden Ratio is a number that’s (kind of) equal to 1.618, just like pi is approximately equal to 3.14, but not exactly.

You take a line and divide it into two parts – a long part (a) and a short part (b). The entire length (a + b) divided by (a) is equal to (a) divided by (b). And both of those numbers equal 1.618. So, (a + b) divided by (a) equals 1.618, and (a) divided by (b) also equals 1.618.

Back to the Golden Rectangle, because it’s so much easier to understand

When you place a square inside the rectangle, it creates another, smaller rectangle. Ignore the black lines and look at the red and green boxes:

Golden Ratio

The red square has four sides equal in length, and that length is equal to the shortest length of the rectangle. By sectioning off that square, you automatically create another, smaller rectangle (outlined in green). Together, they create a complete Golden Ratio layout and a base for the Golden Spiral.

You can also make a new Golden Rectangle out of the smaller rectangle, like this one I’ve outlined in blue:

Golden Ratio

A traditional Golden Ratio diagram has eight Golden Rectangles:

Golden Ratio

And here’s the smallest Golden Rectangle, #8:

Golden Ratio

If you start in the bottom left and make an arch to connect the far side of each square-and-small-rectangle cross section, you’ll get the Golden Spiral.

The Fibonacci Sequence

The Fibonacci Sequence is pretty simple to understand: you start with zero and 1, then get the next number by adding up the two numbers before it. 0 + 1 = 1, then 1 + 1 = 2, etc. The first few numbers in the sequence are 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34.

If you use those numbers to create squares with those widths, you can pretty much create a Golden Spiral:

Golden Ratio

Source: Math is Fun

The Golden Circles

Sometimes, you’ll see circles drawn in the squares instead of or in addition to the spiral. If you draw perfect circles in the boxes of the Golden Ratio overlay, they’ll have the 1:1.618 ratio with one adjacent circle.

Golden Ratio

Source: Limelight Department

The Pepsi and Twitter logos use the Golden Circles:

Golden Ratio

Source: Hybrid Talks

You’ve Seen This Before, A Lot

Nature is full of the Golden Ratio. It’s in flora, shells, weather…

Golden Ratio

Source: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Golden Ratio

Source: Photo by NASA on Unsplash

And because we see it so often, our brains prefer it. That innate attraction is why it’s such a powerful layout for designers to use.

The Golden Ratio in Art and Design

Sometimes the Golden Ratio super easy to recognize:

Golden Ratio

Source: staceysdetailinginc.com

Sometimes you go, “I have no idea what you’re talking about… oh wait. Now I see it. I think.”

Golden Ratio

Source: Marketing Insiders

Other times you could go crazy looking at it…

Golden Ratio

Source: Widewalls

…but if you zero in on the main Golden Rectangle, it becomes a little more clear:

Golden Ratio

Let’s take a look at a commonly-referenced example: the Parthenon

Golden Ratio

Source: Creative Bloq

At first, you might see this and go, “That just looks symmetrical to me. How does what I’m looking at fit into that Golden Rectangle Spiral thing?”

The Golden Ratio isn’t about how each part of a design fits completely and only into the specific sections. If that was the point, the right side of the Parthenon would be one big block and the left side would be sectioned into smaller blocks.

Instead, the ratio is used to create harmony and proportion, and that can be interpreted in a few different ways.

While the Golden Ratio is grounded in math, it can be adapted in creative ways. In the case of the Parthenon, the Golden Ratio determines the height and placement of design components. Plus, there are a number of ways to lay Golden Ratio diagrams over it:

Golden Ratio

Source: Archinect

Golden Ratio

Source: Esther Sugihto on Medium

Golden Ratio

Source: GoldenNumber.net

The Golden Ratio and Website Design

Whether you’re into math or your head’s about to explode, the Golden Ratio is a bit easier to understand in terms of design. You’ve done the heavy lifting. Now it’s time to take the basic overlay and make your web components perfectly pleasing.

The Golden Ratio and Layout

If you want a perfect Golden Ratio layout, set the dimensions to 1:1.618. For example, you can set the width to 960 pixels and the height to 594 pixels. The Golden Rectangle is 594 pixels on each side and the rectangle takes up the rest of the layout (594 x 366).

Calculator Soup has a helpful Golden Ratio calculator where you can set any term (A, B or A + B) to find the correct Golden Ratio values.

Or, you can simply use this type of two-column layout, where one column is quite a bit wider than the other column. It’s organized and clearly shows hierarchy.

Golden Ratio

Source: National Geographic

The Golden Ratio and Spacing

The Golden Ratio can help you determine where to place elements of your design, the proportions to use and where to leave negative space. Here’s a simple example, and you can almost see the Golden Ratio overlay without even having to put it on top:

Golden Ratio

Source: Digiarts 2011

Here’s what it looks like when I apply the Golden Spiral in Photoshop:

Golden Ratio

Again, the Golden Ratio is grounded in math, but when it comes to applying it to design, it’s not perfect. That design isn’t created on a Golden Rectangle, so the Golden Spiral is out of normal proportions. However, you can see how it can guide a designer to choose where to put the largest element of the design, as well as the smallest elements and negative space.

You can also layer the Golden Ratio overlay to apply it to different elements of the same design:

Golden Ratio

Source: Branding by Lemongraphic. Example from Canva.

The Golden Ratio and Content

When you think about the Golden Ratio’s layout and spacing together, you can start deciding where to place content on your website.

Let’s look at the National Geographic website again, this time with Canva’s Golden Ratio overlay on it:

Golden Ratio

The layout is split so that content lines up along the spiral’s center line. To the left, there’s a large block of content. To the right, the content becomes denser and there’s a lot more negative space. Toward the center curlicue of the spiral, you’ll see a second National Geographic logo – there’s no better way to drive home branding than to place it where the eye naturally goes.

Here’s a great example of how the Golden Spiral can lead your eye through a design, even past its main component. This is useful if you have a lot of content to squeeze onto one page. You’ll also notice that even with such a packed and detailed design, there’s still negative space in there.

Golden Ratio

Source: Design by Helms Workshop. Example from Canva.

Honorable Mention: The Golden Ratio and Images

The Golden Ratio is also used in photography composition. Instead of creating a Golden Spiral, the Golden Ratio splits the image into six blocks. The same Golden Ratio is used in this type of grid: the widths and heights of the sections are either 1 or 0.618.

Golden Ratio

Source: Canva

You then use the intersections to compose the shot. The goal is to put a subject or main part of a subject on one of the intersecting lines – the subject shouldn’t be centered, and some blocks should be left empty (in most cases, at least – macro photography and close-up portraits will fill almost all of the frame). By doing this, you create a more interesting portrait than if the subject were centered.

A much simpler and more accessible way to follow this rule is to use the Rule of Thirds grid, which you probably have on your phone’s built-in camera or your DSLR.

Here’s a picture I took of my cousin’s son. I’ve laid the Rule of Thirds grid over it to show you where the subject does, and does not, fill the frame.

Golden Ratio

Also, look how the Golden Spiral almost-perfectly wraps around the subject:

Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio differs from the Rule of Thirds because the Rule of Thirds grid has sections with equal lengths and widths. However, it’s so close – and so much easier – that this is what photographers commonly use when composing or editing a photo.

Wrapping Up

The Golden Ratio can be used as-is or adapted to your purposes and tweaked for size – math may have hard-and-fast rules, but creativity doesn’t. While you can use the Golden Ratio from the get-go to guide your design, you can also use it after you’ve started designing to make tweaks and improvements. The goal is to have the ratio guide you, not to force fit a design into it.