7 of the Best Illustrator and Photoshop Alternatives for Print-on-Demand
man creating design on his ipad

We cannot overlook the fact that Photoshop and Illustrator are industry standards when it comes to image editing and design creation. Novices and professionals both use these two softwares to create masterpieces. However, it all comes with a cost.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other tools that you can start using practically for free (some have a fee, but it’s not as hefty as Adobe subscription).

You’re busy, and we are busy. We’ll keep this simple. We hope to hear from some of you in the comments below.

So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of the most talked-about Photoshop and Illustrator alternatives.

PicMonket offers a 7-day free trial period. The software is simple to use. It is similar to Canva (we will talk about it Canva later in this post). You can try it for free. However, if you want to download your artwork, you MUST subscribe, which automatically starts your free 7-day trial.

PicMonkey basic monthly subscription comes with 1GB of cloud storage, which should be plenty if you back up your downloaded work onto an external drive. You can download images both in JPG or PNG. The basic monthly plan includes top-tier fonts, primo effects, templates, touch up tools, mobile-friendly, and, most importantly, the ability to collaborate with the team.

Of course, the more money you spend, the more you’ll get in terms of features such as email support or the option to upload your fonts.

Canva (Web, Free)

Snapshot of canva workspace

Canva is free. However, to get access to one of the most essential features for Print-on-Demand, such as the transparent background. You must be subscribed to Pro Canva ($12.95/mo). Canvas is perfect for creating posters, canvas, and promotional material for your online store.

Similar to PicMonkey, free Canva comes with 1GB of cloud storage, 8,000+ free templates, 100+ design types (social media posts, presentations, letters, and more), hundreds of thousands of free photos and graphics, free templates, logos, fonts, photos and graphics. Additionally, you can export designs in PDF, JPG, as well as PNG.

GIMP (Freem OS X, Windows Linux, Free)

Free and open-source software. It’s customizable. Even if you don’t have the programming knowledge to adjust the code, you can add several plugins to create a better user experience. But before you start installing plugins, be sure they come from a trusted source. For a free program, GIMP has plenty to offer to any beginner graphic designer. 

Inkscape (Free Vector Graphics Editor)

Inkscape is vector editing software, which is especially useful when you are creating graphics that you intend to use for printing several different products. Vector file pretty amazing in that sense because the file won’t lose any quality when it is resized. Inkscape can be used to create DTG, embroidery, and sublimation designs. But it comes with a steep learning curve. The good news is, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to get you started. 

Affinity Designer ($49.99)

Affinity designer is a viable option for anyone who is on a budget and needs to start designing right of the bat. Affinity and Photoshop are very similar in terms of layers, masks, actions, and adjustments. It is financially more appealing than Photoshop’s monthly subscription fee. Like Photoshop, everything can be customized, such as keyboard shortcuts to set the program to your specific liking. Everything is as simple as clicking and dragging.

Photopea (Free Online Image Editor)

Photopea is a similar, slimmed-down version of Photoshop, but it can only be used online, with that said, you have to make sure you have a high-speed internet connection to be able to use it. It’s a good option for beginners that want to learn the basics before investing in Adobe Creative Cloud. But like other free things, you may experience some delays with specific actions. Also, if you tend to use more common fonts like Arial, Verdana, and Georgia, you are out of luck. Unfortunately, they aren’t included in Photopea.

Krita (Free)

While Krita may take longer to learn, it stands out because of its intuitive wrap-around mode that is a pretty nifty feature for creating all-over print designs. This feature is convenient if you are looking to create patterned designs for all-over print tanks, t-shirts, blankets, and more.

All programs or software offer powerful tools to get you started with your Print-On-Demand journey. It may take some time to get familiar with a particular program, that’s why we recommend using the free version (if available) before you buy the full version. Let us know what you are using the comments below.

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