Can Photopea be an alternative to Photoshop? Let’s have a look at its pros and cons.
With so many graphic design software options out there, how do you decide to switch to new software? There is a good deal of free software available, but often, they don’t live up to their paid counterparts.
Here’s why you should consider using Photopea as your new photo editing and design software.
Photopea­ is a web-based graphic design software. It's free and supported by ads; however, there is also a premium non-subscription you can buy. Even one month of premium works out cheaper than most subscription-based design software. An extra benefit: there are no penalties if you decide to stop paying.
Photopea is a great software if you only dabble in graphic design every now and then and can’t justify paying for a service you only use occasionally. Although, it also makes a great alternative if you’re a consistent user of other design software, and especially so if you’re paying a monthly subscription that seems like it keeps increasing.
Although it is a web-based program, you can download and install it to your device from certain browsers. Photopea aims to become the most advanced and affordable editing software.
Now, let's discuss the pros and cons.
There are many things to look forward to if you decide to use this software.
One of the most obvious pros of Photopea is that it’s free. In fact, paying the small premium membership ($3.33 per month­, pay for as long as you want to use it, no subscription required) only benefits you slightly by removing adverts and increasing the number of times you can use the undo feature.
You can access Photopea in multiple ways, including directly from your browser, from a mobile device or tablet, or downloaded onto your computer. All of these are free options. Photopea can even be used without internet access, as long as it’s first opened while connected to the internet.
A feature worth boasting about is that you can open and edit more file types in Photopea than in almost any other design software. You can open PSD, PDF, AI, XD, Sketch, and XCF files, as well as RAW photos and standard GIF, JPG, PNG, TIFF, SVG files. This is a welcomed advancement compared to many other programs.
Related: The Best Ways to Open a PSD File Without Photoshop
Photopea boasts an intuitive interface that’s easy to use and quite similar to Photoshop’s dashboard that it doesn’t feel like it’s doing too much to be different. For users coming from a non-Photoshop background, it won’t feel as complex as Adobe’s systems.
Although Photopea focuses on being a photo editing software, it also offers some layout formatting that even Photoshop doesn’t offer. You can install an Excel spreadsheet into Photopea to turn it into a designed infographic, for example.
As with any program, there will be some downsides.
Adverts in the free version can be annoying. They’re not too intrusive, but they are on the page all the time even if you install Photopea to your device. Given that it’s free and such a great service, we can’t get too mad at the ads.
It doesn’t install in all browsers. For example, you can access the web browser version from Safari, but it is unavailable to download from Safari. There are plenty of browsers that do support download and installation, so it’s not too hard to find an alternative.
Photopea unfortunately only works with 8-bit color channels. This means that importing any image or photo that’s higher than 8-bit will then be processed into 8-bit. This isn’t great if you’re working with high-res graphics or photography.
Related: The Best Open Source Lightroom Alternatives
Unlike a growing myriad of applications, Photopea doesn’t offer cloud storage. This is probably fine for most people’s standard one-time uses, but if you’re a budding designer creating a lot of files, you’ll have to locally save them or upload them to Google Drive or Dropbox to save on the cloud.
There are some things you cannot do in Photopea that might be quite common in other software, such as gradient meshes or vector patterns. It’s only a few things—hopefully this doesn’t put you off from using it for other design needs.
It’s easy to compare Photopea directly to Photoshop. They have similar workspaces with very similar tools and abilities. Given that you can do a lot of the same things in Photopea as in Photoshop and do it all for free, it’s a no-brainer that Photopea would come out on top.
In Photoshop, you cannot open and edit other files like you can in Photopea. This adds another layer of flexibility from Photopea that you can only get from Adobe by using multiple programs at once. All of this can be done in one web browser with Photopea.
Photopea has a great sense of community, with its founder, Ivan Kutskir, running the company alone and encouraging community help in the form of GitHub, Reddit, and Facebook groups.
He makes Photopea feel like something that you can influence change in, and he even invites people to leave comments and suggestions for new ideas for the program. It’s hard to feel this sense of being part of a company with larger corporations like Adobe, Coral, Sketch, and so on.
We think that Photopea can be a true replacement for the majority of your Photoshop needs. It can be a total replacement if you’re only using design software for the odd project and don’t rely on it for daily tasks.
Related: Free Photoshop Alternatives Worth Using Instead
Even if you paid for the premium version of Photopea, you’d be saving money compared to Adobe Creative Suite, Canva Premium, or other subscription-based services, and all with the benefit that you can stop paying whenever you want.
You might have certain software habits, or as a newbie designer you may feel the need to buy the best-of-the-best, but we believe that everyone can benefit from using Photopea.
Its platform is familiar enough that you don’t have to re-learn software to use it, but it has some unique aspects that allow you more design freedom, all while taking up less space on your computer disk and costing you less money.
There is a myriad of design platforms to use, and it’s hard to know what works for you. There’s no harm in giving Photopea a try.
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Ruby is a writer in MUO’s Creative category, focusing on writing about design software. Having worked as a designer, illustrator, and photographer, Ruby also has a BA in Graphic Communication and an MA in English with Creative Writing.
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