A Few Weeks with Photopea - Free Photoshop Alternative

Sep 17, 2021 at 08:15 am by Warlord720

Like many of us, I’m a long-time Photoshop user. So long that I probably bleed blue with little Ps markers mixed in. I’ve been using Adobe long enough to learn some great software, have personal info leaked in a massive data breach, and be extorted…err… I mean pay monthly for the app. On the other hand, it has more than paid for itself.

Every once in a while I’ll get caught up in a Photopea campaign to give it a go. Can’t remember being impressed when I first tried it many years ago. It came out in 2013, the brainchild of Ivan Kukir, written in JavaScript. Being browser-based wasn’t so good for me as I am in an underserved area in terms of broadband.

Since then, technology has changed… a lot. Enough so that I am giving Photopea another try. It has a fully functional, ad-driven, free version or you can pay to remove ads at a reasonable cost. About as much in a one-time payment as Adobe charges for one month depending on your choice.

Being browser-based does have some advantages such as convenience, but I wasn’t sure I had the bandwidth to use it. Metahuman is an example of a program that sometimes refuses to load on my internet connection (come on Star Link… get those laser-sat things launched).

I was happy to find out it loaded immediately. So fast that at first, I wasn’t sure if I was looking at a graphic of the interface or the actual interface. It was indeed the app, loaded up and ready to go with a menu front center to choose a new project or so forth.

Photopea is hyped as a Photoshop clone and at first glance, the web-based interface does look like Photoshop until you look at it closely and realize the colors match and some of the menus, but it is not an exact clone (nor would I expect it to me in this litigious world). It is, however, it’s a close cousin. Quite possibly the one that is never mentioned in polite company.

Not to be put off by the little things I decided to open a new blank canvas and take it from there, except, I couldn’t immediately figure out how to create said canvas! It had lots of cool templates I could use but I just wanted a blank, white canvas. Choosing the size of the image was no problem, just couldn’t go from there. Finally, I Googled it and sure enough, it was right in front of me in the form of an oversized button that looked like a section header.

I had no idea it was a button till then. Feeling like an old fool (please keep your comment to yourself) I finally got to a new blank canvas, and you would have thought I parted the waters with all the effort I put into that simple task. Purely my fault as I didn’t bother to go over any basics first, but then, few do is my belief.

From this point, I decided to see if could load my article title illustration template from Photoshop. It would be a practical real-world example.

It loaded without a problem and in no time I was editing the template for his article. So far there is a small learning curve. Well… after the initial failure of not seeing the create button, there has been a small learning curve.

It is capable and very usable, but it is not Photoshop in that it doesn’t really look or feel like photoshop. Most likely that is due to it being browser-based but I had no trouble with it to this point. I can set aside some of these minor inconveniences for the price tag of free.

It claims to run with ads but I’m not seeing any in this initial usage. I also did not create an account but was able to save the file locally as a PSD and JPG.  So far I have no real complaints and find it to be a decent alternative at this stage, but I have a few weeks more to test it and see it could indeed become my main photo editor.



M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website


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