What is the next best alternative to Photoshop?
June 17, 2008 7:20 PM   Subscribe

What is the next best alternative to Photoshop?

I used to be a professional graphic designer, but I am now retired. I used Photoshop for many years and had Photoshop CS installed on my computer so I could continue to work for the one "client" I kept: the non-profit my wife works for.

A few months ago, my copy of Photoshop crashed. I cannot re-install it because all I have is the upgrade CD. I foolishly gave the earlier version (5.5) CD away, not realizing I might need it someday. Adobe will not help me because they say CS is too old for them to service. I cannot afford CS3.

I have been using Gimp since the crash, and it has performed most tasks well, but it doesn't work in CMYK, nor does it work well at all with text. It also doesn't seem to keep layers intact.

Does someone have a suggestion for an inexpensive semi-professional alternative? Does anyone know anything about XaraXtreme? I've read reviews for Paint Shop and PhotoImpact, but I didn't come away feeling that either would quite do the trick. Perhaps I'm wrong. Could someone please set me straight? I need to be able to make website graphics, newspaper and magazine advertisements, and labels for promotional items like water bottles and tote bags.

Thank you.
posted by Steve Hight to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Paint Shop Pro was the best paid alternative ten years ago. AFAIK, it continues to be so. It does CYMK and almost everything Photoshop does, besides, you know, being Photoshop.
posted by Memo at 7:28 PM on June 17, 2008

You may find this useful: CMYK support in The GIMP
posted by wfrgms at 7:30 PM on June 17, 2008

To install the upgrade, I think all you need is the serial number from the pre-upgrade version, not the disk itself. If you can't track down the serial number, maybe you can buy a used version of PS 5.5 which is still upgradable. Check ebay.

I think you would be happier with the software you are familiar with than starting over with something else.

(Note for the future: I always write my previous version serial number on the upgrade disk. It's really easy, as you have seen, to end up without the disk.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 7:32 PM on June 17, 2008

For the labels, will you better off using a vector graphics program? I've had success using open source inkscape in situations where what I wanted to have illustrator.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:34 PM on June 17, 2008

Argh, that's too bad that Adobe won't help you.

Have you looked into buying a used copy of CS? I've bought used software before, slightly out of date, and had good luck with it.
posted by amtho at 8:25 PM on June 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you. I'll look more closely at Paint Shop Pro. I'll also see about the CMYK plugin for GIMP, but the real issue for me is its limited text function. The printers we use here seem to have no problem with RGB anymore, but I have had a couple of issues come up with outside printers. I'll also check eBay for an out-of-date version of Photoshop. I hadn't thought of that.

Does anyone else have any tips?

posted by Steve Hight at 8:26 PM on June 17, 2008

Photoshop Elements? I'm not sure about the CMYK issue, tho. Sorry.
posted by Incognita at 8:35 PM on June 17, 2008

I'm not a graphic designer, so I'm not authoritative, but I think Paint.NET is quite good. I've heard it compares favorably with Photoshop and GIMP. And it's free.
posted by molybdenum at 8:43 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ive stopped using photoshop (I also have an old version and its not worth paying for the new one) for paint.net. Granted, i dont do complex things, but its pretty impressive for free software.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:56 PM on June 17, 2008

Response by poster: I'll check out Paint.Net also. Thanks!

I'm not sure about inkscape; I've never worked in vector graphics, and I may be too old to learn new tricks!
posted by Steve Hight at 10:15 PM on June 17, 2008

I think CMYK is one of the things you don't get with Photoshop Elements ...but it's worth verifying.

I've heard that PSP is not what it used to be since Corel bought it. Which seems to happen frequently with Corel. I'm not speaking from experience, just comments I've read elsewhere (Amazon. etc.)
posted by pmurray63 at 10:45 PM on June 17, 2008

you don't say if you uninstalled photoshop after it crashed. You may still have the serial number in your registry. Try Belarc Advisor (freeware) and see if it exposes it.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:52 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've heard that PSP is not what it used to be since Corel bought it.
That's my experience, as well. The last Jasc version was 9.x and is regularly available on ebay. PSP will open and save as PSD files, keeping all layers and settings intact. I've used it for about 10 years or so and have found it capable of doing just about everything Photoshop can do.
posted by kellyk801 at 5:49 AM on June 18, 2008

Pixelmator (http://www.pixelmator.com/) has successfully weened me off Photoshop for good. However, it does not yet support CMYK. They have already announced its support in a future version, and the program is updated pretty regularly and improving all the time, so at the very least I'd watch its progress on this feature. The price is right at $59.
posted by aletheia at 6:42 AM on June 18, 2008

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