LAST UPDATED: 7/6/2020
This list is always updating. If you feel something is missing, feel free to contact me to suggest I add it!
Once upon a time (January of 2019) I made a blog post purely out of spite. I actually made a whole blog out of spite, just to make that one blog post. I did it because I was furious about a spike in the price of the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, which is already stupidly expensive. You may recognize this graphic:
That was me. I did that.
This is a repost of that post because the blog that post used to live on no longer exists. Well, it does, it’s just this blog now.
Anyway, keep reading below for the actual round-up. Thanks for stopping by. And, as always, #FuckAdobe.
The other day I saw a tweet that ignited a fury in me I still haven’t gotten over.
The tweet, by user @burgerdrome, explained that Adobe is raising the price of their Creative Cloud subscription from $39.99 per month to $48.99 per month. For one person. One person!!! This goes beyond unfair, soars past unjust, and teeters at the edge of criminal.
You see, dear reader, I hate any company that tries to exploit the already poor-as-shit creator community, as I myself am a member of that group. However, I have a particular case of the ass against Adobe. Adobe, to me, symbolizes everything I hate about both capitalism and Western civilization’s complete disregard of the arts and humanities as not just valuable, but necessary parts of life.
But I’m not writing this to preach or complain. Instead, I’m taking a more proactive approach to my frustration. Instead, I’ve scoured the internet and rounded up free or cheap alternatives to every major Adobe CC product, many of which I personally use because I fucking hate Adobe so goddamn much.
In future blog posts, I’ll go through each of these programs and talk about them more in-depth. But I feel a sense of urgency to get this post out to the masses, so for now, here are just names and links.
Side note: Because I only have a PC, I’ve only looked at PC apps. While many of these programs may also have Mac versions, I didn’t make a point of confirming, because frankly if you can afford a Mac computer, you probably don’t need this article anyway.
All of these apps are free to use. Italicized apps are free but have premium versions. Bolded apps are what I have used and can personally vouch for, at least within the scope of my own work.
IF YOU DRAW OR DESIGN
- Instead of PHOTOSHOP, try GIMP, KRITA, FIRE ALPACA, AUTODESK SKETCHBOOK, or MEDIBANG PAINT
- Instead of LIGHTROOM, try PAINT.NET or DARKTABLE
- Instead of ILLUSTRATOR, try INKSCAPE
- Instead of INDESIGN, try CANVA or SCRIBUS
IF YOU MAKE PICTURES MOVE
- Instead of PREMIERE, try DAVINCI RESOLVE or HITFILM EXPRESS
- Instead of ANIMATE/FLASH, try OPENTOONZ, PLASTIC ANIMATION PAPER, EASYTOON, or BLENDER
- Instead of AFTER EFFECTS, try WAX, BLENDER, or FUSION
IF YOU BUILD WEBSITES OR SOFTWARE
- Instead of DREAMWEAVER, SPARK, or XD, try NOTEPAD++, WIX, WEEBLY, VISUAL STUDIO CODE, BRACKETS, or INVISION
IF YOU DO STUFF THAT REQUIRES THESE OTHER PROGRAMS
- Instead of AUDITION, try AUDACITY, WAVEPAD, OCENAUDIO, or LMMS
- Instead of ACROBAT PRO, try FOXIT READER, PDFMATE, SEDJA, or PDF ESCAPE
- Instead of INCOPY, try LOVING YOURSELF AND USING LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE (WHO USES THIS???)
IF YOU NEED STOCK PHOTOS OR FONTS
- Instead of ADOBE STOCK, try PEXELS, UNSPLASH, or PIXABAY
- Instead of ADOBE FONTS, try GOOGLE FONTS or FONT SQUIRREL
- BONUS: If you need FREE MUSIC OR SOUND EFFECTS, try YOUTUBE AUDIO LIBRARY, INCOMPETECH, or SOUNDBIBLE
- If you need CLIP ART, try OPENCLIPART
- If you need TEXTURES, try TEXTURES.COM
FINAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Because all of these programs are free, and most of them are open-source, their functionality is going to feel limited in places where the Adobe programs do not. For beginners or people looking for a no-frills approach to creation, this could actually be a good thing. For hard-boiled professionals, however, the limitations might hurt more.
There are also more than plenty of other, non-free alternatives that might better suit the needs of hardcore users. Clip Studio Paint has become an overnight sensation for artists and there are tons of InDesign clones out there that, while not exactly cheap, are still cheaper than Adobe’s absurd $50 a month. Plus, many of these alternatives are a simple, one-time payment. As software should be.
But please don’t discount the power of these free programs! While there might be limitations, open-source programs like Paint.NET offer TONS of customization through plug-ins, and it’s entirely possible to build yourself a powerful program using the scaffolding of these basic free ones this way. The reason I don’t use GIMP is that I’ve beefed Paint.NET up so much I don’t need it. Also, GIMP takes 900 years to open and Paint.NET does not. Priorities.
In the wake of this price hike crisis, creators feel rightfully attacked. People want to know: What is it going to take to show Adobe that this kind of behavior isn’t okay?
The answer is short and simple: They need to lose money over it. The only time a company as big as Adobe cares about their customers is when they’re hemorrhaging funds and can’t figure out why. As my late uncle always used to say: Money talks. Bullshit walks.
Using these free or cheaper programs and encouraging other people—especially professionals—to also use them will hit Adobe right where they’ll feel it most: In the wallet. Plus, it’ll help support small-time developers, which increases competition, which might make room for something better than Adobe to emerge. Or it’ll at least pressure Adobe into keeping their prices fair.
The only way to fix the system is to tear it down by its foundations. Scurry from Adobe like cockroaches in the light. Go download free programs. Create in spite of Adobe saying you can’t without ponying up your life savings first. Take immense satisfaction in knowing that, every time you open Blender or DaVinci Resolve, you’re giving Adobe a big fat finger to their greedy faces.
Now get out there and create, you lovely bastards.