Best Open Source Photo Editing Software

7 Best Open Source Photo Editing Software in 2020

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Best Open Source Photo Editing Software

What are some free open-source photo editing software out there?

For pro-level editing, Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are the best option.

Using these two image editing software, you can do all sorts of image editing from basic to advanced.

But the only downfall is you need to pay Adobe every month for using it that is difficult for many starters like me.

In the beginning, I didn’t have much money to use Photoshop for doing all types of image retouching.

So, I looked for free photo editing software that let me perform basic to advanced retouching.

Fortunately, I found a lot of free options that let me do color correction, crop & resizing, change orientation, correct light, cutout objects, organize photos, and much more.

Even I can edit SVG files, perform non-destructive editing workflows using those free photo editing apps.

In this guide, I have included 7 best free photo editing software for the newbie like me.

You may ask- what I do as a newbie or hobbyist if I have the budget to use Photoshop and Lightroom?

Well, it doesn’t make sense to pay Adobe per month for using it as a hobbyist or a newbie. You can change your plan like me after mastering on editing.

And these free photo editing software I have listed let you be a master on editing.

So, let’s dive in.

7 Best Open Source Photo Editing Software in 2020

free photo editing software


Here is the complete list of free photo editing software.

  • GIMP
  • Darktable
  • Inkscape
  • Digikam
  • Raw Therapee
  • Paint.Net
  • Krita

01. GIMP – Best free open-source photo editing software

GIMP photo editor

GIMP is an acronym of the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It has packed with advanced image editing tools and has a Photoshop-like interface.

With GIMP, you can do every type of editing including color correction, retouching, fix distortion, and so on.

To remove background from photos, it has an advanced pen tool, Fuzzy Selection tool, and Free selection tool.

Plus, it has an advanced layer mask tool like Photoshop has. Using this tool, you can precisely erase the background from a complex photo.

For doing advanced retouching, it has come with the Clone Stamp tool, Blemish Remover tool, and Healing brush.

With these tools, you can make your portrait photo stunning.

Moreover, it has a lot of tools to correct perspective distortion, photo color correction, and much more.

Indeed, you can do everything using GIMP as the users of Photoshop do.

So, if you are a pro editor and don’t have much money to use Photoshop, then GIMP is the best option to do advanced retouching.

Features

  • Advanced image editing tools
  • Include layer system
  • Upgraded masking tool
  • Advanced color management tool
  • Upgraded transform tools
  • Retouching tools
  • Support all types of file format

Pros

  • Customizable interface
  • Completely free to use
  • Best for professional photo editors

Cons

  • Steep learning curve
  • Doesn’t offer non-destructive editing workflow
  • Don’t let you organize photos

Solution of the cons

If you are a beginner, then you find GIMP a little bit complex. However, there are a lot of websites that offer tutorials to be master on using GIMP.

Check out this article that includes a list of websites that make tutorials on GIMP. Also, you can join on these GIMP forums including GIMP-Forum.Net, Gimpusers.com, GIMP Chat, Gimper.Net, and Reddit.

As GIMP doesn’t let you organize photos, you can use Darktable instead of it.

02. Darktable- Best free Lightroom alternative

Darktable-free photo editing software

Darktable is a free photo editor app for mac.

For those who want to do basic editing, organize photos, correct photo color and so on, then Darktable is the best selection.

Like Lightroom, it also offers non-destructive editing workflows. Besides, it has a lot of presets and filters to enhance photos with a few clicks.

The interface of Darktable is similar to Lightroom. At the same time, it has packed with a lot of editing tools like Lr has.

That’s why Darktable is considered as the best free Lightroom alternative app.

On Darktable, you can organize photos using tag, location, name, rating, and stars.

It helps you to get the file immediately when you want to edit the photos.

Therefore, it has slider-based image editing tools like LR offers to make the retouching work fast and simple.

Something that I like about Darktable is its automatic repetitive tasks. It helps to make my editing workflows fast that save time.

Features

  • A lot of adjustment tools
  • Includes a lot of presets
  • Advanced color correction tools
  • Raw photo processor
  • Basic photo editing tools

Pros

  • Offer non-destructive editing
  • Easy to use
  • Perfect for organizing photos
  • Free to use

Cons

  • Not perfect for advanced retouching

Solution of the cons

Use GIMP open source photo editor that lets you perform advanced retouching workflows.

03. Inkscape- Best free vector design software

Inkscape- free painting software

Inkscape is a free vector design creation software.

If you are an amateur vector artist and want to create logos, text effects, rendering, and much for free, then Inkscape is for you.

Even you can edit the SVG file precisely on Inkscape.

Indeed, it is solely designed for vector designers to create stunning designs.

The plus of Inkscape is it enables you to convert raster file to vector. Even it lets you open and edit PDF and AI files.

Also, you can convert bitmap files to vector using Inkscape. Therefore, you can create your social media content using this free photo editing software.

Though it is a robust vector graphic design software, the interface of Inkscape is intuitive.

There is no steep learning curve. That means you can easily be a master in using Inkscape.

Those who don’t have enough money to use Adobe Illustrator can use Inkscape as an alternative.

The best part is it is free and lets you do almost everything as Adobe Illustrator does.

Features

  • Advanced objection creation tools including drawing tool, shape tool, and text tool
  • Include a lot of object manipulation tools
  • Upgraded Fill & Stroke
  • Rendering
  • Supports multiple file-formats including SVG, PDF, PNG, DXF, EPS, SK1

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • No learning curve
  • Adaptable layout and interface

Cons

  • Keyboard shortcuts do not perform well
  • Occur unexpected crush

Solution of the cons

The keyboard shortcuts of Inkscape don’t perform well. So, it is better to use each of the tools manually or selecting from the toolbar.

Crush happened when you add a lot of paths to a project.

So, stop adding multiple paths to a single project. If possible, try to use Adobe Illustrator to avoid these problems.

04. Digikam- Free photo organizing software

Digikam-free photo organizing software

DigiKam is a free photo management software. It is solely created for organizing and managing software.

However, I have included this software both for editing and organizing photos.

Besides organizing photos, it also lets you edit photos as it has come with a lot of advanced image editing tools.

With DigiKam, you can process raw photos, correct photo color, adjust brightness & exposure, and much more.

Nonetheless, you can also apply batch photo processing using DigiKam.

Digikam has an advanced module named Light Table for sorting images smartly. Using this module, you can compare each of the photos you shoot.

Furthermore, you can organize photos using meta-tags, stars, ratings, and locations.

The exciting part of Digikam is you can also process raw photos and share them on different social channels.

To get the insight view of DigiKam, you can check out this article by Fix The Photo.

Features

  • Support multiple cameras
  • Smart photo organizing tools
  • Raw processor
  • Batch photo processing
  • A lot of image editing tools

Pros

  • Perfect for photo organization
  • Easy to navigate
  • Offer batch photo processing

Cons

  • Lack of advanced photo editing tools
  • Darktable photo organizing system performs better than DigiKam

Solution of the cons

Try to use GIMP instead of DigiKam for advanced image retouching. For organizing photos smartly, use Darktable.

05. Raw Therapee- Best free raw development app

Raw Therapee- free raw development software

Raw Therapee is an open-source photo editor app for developing raw files.

With Raw Therapee, you can edit raw images in a non-destructive way.

Apart from that, you can edit, correct photo color, organize photos, and perform some retouching workflows.

Though the interface of Raw Therapee is the same as Lightroom, Raw Therapee goes deep in case of color correction.

There are a plethora of options to enhance and correct photo colors. Besides, it lets you process raw photos with depth. You can fix chromatic aberration, noise reduction of your raw files.

However, if we judge Raw Therapee by the intuitiveness of the interface, then Lightroom is superior to it.

Even so, the photo organizing system of Raw Therapee is not as intuitive as LR.

Aside from these, if you find software for developing raw files, then Raw Therapee is the best selection.

To get an in-depth look at Raw Therapee features, check out this article of Expert Photography.

Features

  • Advanced color correction tools
  • Raw image processor
  • Photo organization option
  • Basic editing tools
  • Adjustment tools

Pros

  • Completely free
  • Enables to convert files in various formats
  • Perfect for raw development

Cons

  • Unintuitive interface
  • Little bit complex
  • The performance rate is low comparing to Lightroom

Solution of the cons

Most of the beginner find the interface of Raw Therapee complex. As a solution, you can use Darktable that is another free alternative to Lightroom.

06. Paint.Net- Awesome tool for painting & editing

Paint.Net- free digital painting software

Paint.Net is another full-featured free photo editing software for Windows.

Intuitive interface, layer system, effects, plugins, and a plethora of editing tools are available on Paint.Net.

Helpful community, tutorials, and plugins make photo editing easy and enjoyable on Paint.Net.

With Paint.Net, you can do basic editing with precision.

Though it doesn’t let you do creative editing or advanced retouching, you can give a clean look to your photo free from any visible imperfections.

For making adjustments, it has come with Hue, Saturation, and Curves tools.

Moreover, it includes a lot of art effects to create stunning painting photos including oil, ink, and pencil.

The drawback of this tool is it has come with limited brush workflows.

At the same time, the text tool doesn’t perform well when you apply any effects.

Disregarding these drawbacks, it is a great tool for beginners.

Features

  • A lot of effects included to remove red-eye, blemishes, and fix distortions
  • Powerful editing tools
  • Intuitive & customizable interface
  • Plethora of History panels

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Completely free
  • Third-party plugins make editing workflow smooth
  • Growing online helpful community
  • Tutorials available

Cons

  • Lack of advanced retouching tools
  • Doesn’t come with Dodge & Burn tool
  • Unupgraded brush tool

Solution of the cons

Gimp is a better solution to do all types of retouching workflows. Or, you can choose Photoshop to enjoy advanced retouching.

07. Krita- Best free digital painting software

Krita- free photo painting software

Krita is a free painting photo editing software. The interface of Krita is intuitive and has everything at your fingertips.

With Krita, you can create stunning drawing & painting arts. Even a child can use it to draw paintings.

This digital painting tool has come with a lot of brushes for drawing arts. The best part is you can customize each of the brush tools.

For a newbie, you don’t need to make changes into any brushes as it has come with everything you need.

The pencil tool of Krita is by far so advanced than its other counterparts. The softness of this tool is great and its stroke is straight.

To sum up, it is a great digital painting tool for the newbie.

Even those who don’t have any painting experience before can create digital drawings using this free photo editor.

Features

  • Plethora of brush tools
  • Selection tools
  • Transform tools
  • Layer system
  • HDR support
  • Drawing assistance
  • Color palette
  • Advanced pencil tools

Pros

  • Completely free to use
  • No experience needed to use it
  • User-friendly interface
  • Support plugins
  • Compatible on Linux, Windows, and macOS

Cons

  • Crush happened frequently
  • Lack of keyboard shortcuts

Solution of the cons

The problem of Krita is there occur crushes often. As a result, you can lose your work.

To get rid of this problem, it is better to save the working file often.

I also noticed that Krita has a lack of keyboard shortcuts and layers. For solving this problem, you can switch your plan Krita to Photoshop.

Conclusion

To enhance photo quality, we must take help from photo editing software, either beginner or professionals.

And the list of open-source photo editing software I have included above help you enhance photos without spending a single buck.

But the question is- which is the best free photo editing software on this list?

Well, it depends on what you are going to do and what you are capable of doing.

To me, Gimp is the best free open-source photo editor on this list. It lets you do almost everything as Photoshop and Lightroom do.

For professionals who don’t have enough money to use Photoshop, they can take advantage of this free photo editor.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a free Lightroom alternative, then Darktable is one that you expect.

For your convenience, I have listed those free photo editing software here again.

  • Gimp- Best free Photoshop alternative
  • Darktable- Best free Lightroom alternative
  • Inkscape- Best free vector design app
  • Digicam- Best for photo organization
  • Raw Therapee- Best raw development app
  • Paint.Net- Perfect for painting and basic editing
  • Krita- Best free digital painting software

Have you tried out any of the software on this list? Which software are you going to try out?

Have I missed any software that should include?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

General FAQ

What is the best free photo editing software?

Gimp is the best free photo editing software.

Which free photo editing software is best for beginners?

Darktable, Krita, DigiKam, Inkscape, and Raw Therapee are the best free photo editing software for beginners.

Is there any free photo editing software?

All of the apps I included on this list are free.

Is there an open source version of Photoshop?

Yes, Gimp is the open source version of Photoshop.

Is there an open source version of Lightroom?

Darktable is the open source version of Lightroom.

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Sohel Rana is the founder, content crafter, and SEO's at Pic Editor Review. He has grown his passion over years about writing on software, how-to guide, and product description.

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