Adobe is a staple of creative work in the modern world, with software covering everything from graphic design to video editing under its umbrella. It’s the first company many people turn to when wanting to break into any creative field. But while Adobe’s products are great, they don’t come cheap, and many people would be better off starting with the numerous free alternatives available today.
Adobe’s products are the cutting edge of their respective fields, so naturally, they’re expensive to produce which then, in turn, translates to a hefty price tag. But the vast majority of people don’t need the cutting edge. Even a lot of professionals don’t, so when you take just a step or two down in overall power, you can find some great free alternatives.
And the best part? We already did the research for you.
Premiere Pro Alternatives
Premiere Pro is Adobe’s industry-grade video editor. It’s used for everything from YouTube vlogs to the latest blockbuster films. While it’s challenging to match Premiere Pro’s massive number of features, most people don’t need half of what Premiere Pro offers. And considering that, there are plenty of free options to try.
- DaVinci Resolve Pro: DaVinci is more than enough for most people’s video editing needs. It has a sleek interface and allows you to cut, rearrange, and merge clips easily. While if you’re trying to get into really advanced editing, you might hit some barriers; besides that it’s a fantastic option.
- Shotcut: Shotcut is a fairly standard video editor, but it has the advantage of being open source. That means anyone can open up the source code and change whatever they want. This opens the door for third-party plugins, which can add a lot more features to the program.
- Hitfilm Express: Typically, when working in Premiere Pro, you would use it in conjunction with Adobe After Effects to add in special effects. Hitfilm will cover both your video editing and VFX needs in one program with some impressive results. It’s a great option for those looking to learn VFX.
After Effects Alternatives
After Effects covers VFX and motion graphics editing, and with these being particularly advanced fields of work, there aren’t a lot of free options not linked to a specific video editor. Still, we were able to find one good general option.
- Natron: Natron has a lot of the same fundamental features as After Effects—definitely enough to get you started with VFX and motion graphics. It is open-source, so once you do start outgrowing these basic features, you can expand the program’s capabilities with third-party plugins.
Audition is a professional audio editing program that’s great for editing voiceovers, podcasts, and even music. However, the two alternatives we have here should match most people’s needs just fine.
- Audacity: Audacity is a fantastic audio editor with powerful features that has managed to stick around for a while now. It is also open-source.
- Sodaphonic: Most people don’t need complicated audio editing options—chances are you just want to cut up some audio tracks. Sodaphonic is great for this, as it’s web-based and has a simple design that makes editing your audio quick and easy.
Photoshop is probably the most iconic of Adobe’s products—people who have never launched a photo editor in their life know about Photoshop. And that fame is well-deserved, as it’s an extremely powerful photo editor. But there are plenty of free options that have popped up over the years that give it a run for its money (metaphorically speaking, of course).
- GIMP: When it comes to free photo editing, there is no name more well-known than GIMP. It has been around for many years and still manages to be one of the best photo editors around. This is largely because GIMP is open-source, and with the massive community that surrounds it, there is almost certainly a plugin for any feature you could ever want or need.
- Photopea: Not all photo editors have to be installed on your computer, and Photopea displays that perfectly. It’s an impressively powerful web-based photo editor, which means it is perfect for computers with less powerful hardware (or people who use ChromeOS).
- Paint.NET: Made as a more powerful alternative to the classic Microsoft Paint, Paint.NET might look underwhelming at first glance. But it packs a lot of features behind its dated-looking design. The program is also well optimized so you can load it up, do a quick edit, and shut it down without any annoyingly long load times.
Lightroom is a program made with photographers in mind. It simplifies the photo-editing process so that users can make their photos look professionally edited in a matter of minutes. However, Lightroom is not alone in that endeavor.
- Darktable: You can expect a lot of the same color-grading and general editing options you’d see in Lightroom from Darktable. The UI is a bit clunky, but it makes up for that by being open-source so you can customize its feature set as you see fit.
- RawTherapee: Second verse same as the first, RawTherapee is also an open-source photo editor in the vein of Lightroom. Choosing between it and Darktable just comes down to which one you like the look of more.
Illustrator is a vector graphics program typically used for creating logos and other digital artwork. For graphic designers, this type of program is essential as vector images keep 100% of the image quality even when resized.
- Inkscape: Inkscape is a fully-featured vector graphics program. This program has been around for a while, and the design does reflect that, but if you can deal with a dated design, it’s one of the best options for vector graphics around. It’s also open-source.
- Vectr: If you prefer (or need) web-based tools, Vectr is a fantastic option. With a sleek design and responsive tools, editing graphics is quick and simple. Projects are also easy to collaborate on as every project has a dedicated URL that allows you to work together with other people at the same time.
- Gravit Designer: Another impressive web-based editor. Gravit covers all your vector graphics needs with powerful features and is also a great option for UI designers.
Adobe Animate (formerly known as Adobe Flash) is a 2D animation tool. It tries to bridge the gap between drawing and animating as simply as possible.
- Synfig Studios: This is just a great all-around 2D animator. It gives you powerful tools to bring your drawings to life and allows for some vector art editing as well. It is also open-source.
- Pencil2d: Pencil2d is probably the most similar to Animate, with simple ways to animate hand-drawn art. There’s nothing too complicated here, but that’s also its main draw.
- OpenToonz: OpenToonz is an advanced open-source animation program that’s even used in some professional studios. Not only can you do all the animation basics, but you can also easily add in effects to spice things up. And of course, third-party plugins only expand the software’s capabilities.
It’s great to see so many free options in these advanced fields. These programs lower the barrier of entry and allow for a wider audience to learn these skills. And even for experienced hobbyists and professionals, saving money by not needing to pay subscriptions or pay large one-time fees always helps.