Adobe Photoshop Toolkit

Photoshop and Photoshop alternatives reviewed

Photoshop is the industry standard for digital arts design, raster graphic edits and manipulation. Although there are many free open source software alternatives such as GIMP, Krita, Paint.NET, and Pixlr, Adobe Photoshop is the best software for professionals. We’ve outlined the latest functionalities and features in each graphic manipulation software.

GIMP, a GNU Image Manipulation Program

GIMP is popular for Linux users who primarily do photo editing, image composition and retouching. It has a slick UI for novice users to get a head start in image manipulation. GIMP has step up on functionality and release pace in the past eight years. The software functionality, performance and toolkit have improved significantly compared to editions back in 2012.

GIMP editor

Basic functionality
  • GIMP has Curves tool with two types of nodes instead of single node to create more sophisticated curves.
  • Users are allowed to unlock and edit hidden layers
  • Pixels outside of canvas can be displayed and edited
  • Layers can be switched by pointing at its pixels and pressing Alt + middle click
  • Parametric brushes with 32-bit per channel prevision
  • Bucket Fill tool with smart colorization mode for line art
  • Sample Merging option to allow retouches on photos on a separate layer
  • Grayscale preview mode in the Foreground
  • Replicate patterns with the Offset tool to shift pixels around and wrap them around the edges

Krita has some rough edges for non-technical users. It requires basic knowledge in Python scripting, and APIs to add extra features in Krita.

Krita Editor

Basic functionality
  • It has multiple drawing assistance features ranging from ellipses to creating curvilinear perspective with the Fisheye Point tool.
  • Krita comes with vector, filter, group, and file layers. Combine, order, and flatten layers to help your artwork stay organized.
  • Add and remove a portion of your drawing on selection
  • Modify your selection by feathering and inverting it. Paint a selection with the Global Selection Mask.
  • full color management through LCMS for ICC and OpenColor IO for EXR
  • Turn on OpenGL to increase canvas rotation and zooming speed
  • Support PSD files from different sources
  • Training and resource guides

Paint.NET is a spin off from Microsoft Paint. It has an older interface compare to other software. The last edition was updated in Windows 7 era. Based on the site description on, we can tell that this open source project has fewer maintenece and updates compared to GIMP and Krita. In terms of usability and performance, Photoshop, GIMP, and Krita are better alternatives.

Paint.NET image

Compared to GIMP and other GNU Software, Photoshop CC is still more popular because Adobe Suite is an all-encompassing, integrated solution that support more file formats. Professional users are more familiar with the Adobe ecosystem for their workflow. And this is how can organize all multimedia assets in a central location and transfer graphics between a suite of Adobe Applications.

Extra features in Adobe Photoshop CC 2019:

Photoshop Editor

1. Content Aware Fill Tool

No more tinkering with healing brush, patch or clone stamp tools! Simply turn on the content awareness feature and use either the lasso, marquee tools to select an object you wish to remove from the graphic.

Once you have selected an object, the Photoshop AI will detect the texture and tonality of the sample area surrounding the original object and fill it in.

You can adjust the size of the sampling area to feed into the AI.

2. Blending mode effects

In the older Photoshop versions before Photoshop CC, normally users were required to click on the drop down to sample through each blending mode and go through each to preview them one by one. The newer versions now lets us preview each individual blending mode by hovering over the drop down options. This is a huge time saver to compare the blending effects, instead of clicking into each blending option.

3. Scale up and down images in Place Holders

Frame tools can be used as placeholders to crop images into any shapes such as ellipsis, circle, parallelogram and square. This functionality is similar to Photoshop InDesign. You can scale images up and down proportionally simply by holding “Command” + “T” (transform)  or”Shift” + “Option” + Click and drag to scale.

4. Symmetry Tool

The symmetry tool produces cool effects depending on segment and axis settings. Instead of requiring hand-drawn technique, Photoshop detects your brushstrokes and trace it into beautiful geometric patterns.

Photoshop Symmetry Tool

Mandala Symmetry in Photoshop CC
Drag the slider to select the 8 segments option.
Photoshop Brush Tool
Select the brush tool.


The older version of Photoshop used to resize graphic using the “Shift” key to maintain graphics at original scale, but now Photoshop CC scales content from center by holding the “Alt” key. “Shift” actually distorts the graphic.