After Adobe Creative Suite: Exploring Alternatives for Designers and Artists

I’m starting a new series where I will be trying alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite and sharing my findings with you all. Adobe Creative Suite has become an onerous subscription scam that is too expensive for many developers and creators, especially in the Global South. Alternative apps and software have matured to the point where you can accomplish most tasks you need with these high quality alternatives.

I’ve been using Adobe products since the mid 1990s, probably since 1994 when Adobe bought Aldus Pagemaker. That’s a quarter century investment in the platform, so quitting it is not a light decision. I’ve probably been a Adobe Creative Suite monthly subscriber for at least 10 years, so I’ve probably spent over $6000 on Adobe software. Contrast this to the late 1990s, when you could buy a shrink-wrapped box of the software, at retail price, for $500-600 a program. I’ve mostly ever used Photoshop and InDesign/Pagemaker, so there was a time when I could have paid $1200 for those two titles and not had to pay anything else to Adobe.

Of course, tens of thousands of users bought those licenses in the 90s and 2000s, only to see them turned off when Adobe moved to its predatory subscription model. Adobe exploits the the switching costs dilemma that social media monopolies base their business models on. Artists, designers, and agencies have lots of money, resources and institutional memory tied up with assets, knowledge, and experience that rely on the Adobe platform.

Fortunately, it appears that alternatives have evolved and competitors have everything you need. I’ve assessed what I really do with Adobe products and most of those tasks can be done by the basic features of any of these programs. Re-sizing images and graphics for websites and social media, making ads, editing photos, creating basic illustrations, making menus and business cards, and more recently, editing audio and video. I’m not a power use, but with this series, I hope to find that Adobe alternatives offer a full range of features for all types of users.

I will be looking at the following apps, software, and services.

Alternatives to Photoshop

Alternatives to Audition

Alternatives to Illustrator

Alternatives to Figma

This was added when Figma was in the process of being bought by Adobe. This merger has since been suspended.

Alternative to Premier Pro

Alternatives to InDesign


Drawing and Art Apps / Programs

By @XdanielArt