Here are the Best Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop on Android. The camera has become one of the most valued elements in a mobile phone and the quality achieved by the leading models manages to even and sometimes exceed what some compact devices offer, which is why many users use the phone as a pocket camera as usual.
However, there is not the thing left. In addition to shooting photos, we can also edit them. Most smartphones have screens wide enough for us to modify images easily and there are more and more applications to improve our photos, from the most basic to the most complete. We are looking for the best photo editors for Android.
A few years ago, if we wanted to edit an image we had to resort to a desktop program, but nowadays things have changed and there are countless mobile apps that rivals some of the best image editors that we used on our computers.
Adobe Photoshop remains the king of retouching programs along with Lightroom, the favorite of many professional photographers. Although both have mobile versions that we analyze later, it is true that for more professional editions you have to resort to the computer, but do not underestimate what we can do with our phones.
The basic user will find great allies in the predefined filters that we can apply in practically any image-editing app, but there is also space for those looking for more personalized effects with the various editing tools available.
What to look for in an image editor?
In my case, when it comes to retouching images, I resort directly to Photoshop, which is why I consider myself quite demanding in this aspect. I am clear that a mobile app has limitations, both in terms of screen size and handling – for example, it will not allow me to make complex selections or handle the clone buffer at the same level as on the computer. However, increasingly tools that are more complete offer very interesting solutions for the mobile universe.
Google Play is a bottomless pit, image editors are one of the most comprehensive, and searched categories of the entire app store, so before starting to search we will mark some of the requirements that we ask an image editor.
- Exposure control: an essential tool that we will use practically in any edition, although not all mobile editors solve it equally well.
- Adjust brightness: due to its similarity, many mobile editors unify exposure and brightness as the same tool, although in more advanced editors they do not have the same effect.
- Adjust contrast: another key point in image editing that defines the separation between the light and shadow areas of an image. In other words, it allows you to dim or highlight the image.
- Independent control of lights and shadows: it is not an option present in all the editors, but it can be very useful since it allows a greater control over the contrast.
- Color adjustment: another basic in any image editor. Most offer a saturation control to define the intensity of the nuances of the image, but there are also other apps, that divide the color adjustment into more options such as hue or intensity and even some more advanced functions such as modifying tones separately.
- Color temperature: is a concept linked to the white balance and can be very practical to adjust dominant color present in the light. However, in many cases, we find less technical tools such as “warmth”.
- Adjust framing: it is one on the very first stage of editions that we do to an image, to cut a portion, either straighten it rotating to the sides or even reflect it.
- Reduce noise: the annoying effect of noise usually appears when we take photos in low light conditions; hence, a function to minimize it can be very useful in some images.
- Focus: increase sharpness is another classic in image editing, although you have to be careful and do not overdo it so that the effect does not end up spoiling the image.
- Size/resolution files: while almost all desktop editing programs allow us to adjust the size and resolution of images, it is not an option so common in mobile editors, but it does not stop being a necessary feature.
- RAW Editor: more and more mobile phones offer the possibility of shooting RAW images and being able to edit them directly on the device is important to take advantage of this improvement.
- Punctual editing: it is not so common in mobile apps, but punctual editing is one of the most used aspects in programs such as Photoshop. It can be very useful for example to eliminate skin redness, eliminate elements or simply apply exposure or color adjustments in isolated areas without affecting the whole image.
- Filters: filters can be good for quick touch-ups, although they are always used sparingly.
- Effects: the effects range from blurring the background, through textures, frames, texts or stickers. They are not an essential aspect in editing, but they are very popular in order to share images on social networks.
- Integrated camera: most image editing apps integrate it, but some do not include the integrated camera and although it is not an essential option (we can make the photo with the camera’s native app and then open it with the editor), it never comes bad to have everything in the same place.
- Intuitive operation: Finally Yet Importantly, the interface should be well organized and should allow easy access to all the tools is essential for a good user experience, especially in touch devices.
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Our selection of Adobe Photoshop alternatives for Android:
As I said, the offer of photo editors on Google Play is huge and making a selection is not an easy task, especially since there are notable differences between the different proposals available. There are more apps to use filters and effects, other more professional ones that include an infinite number of editing parameters and others that offer only the basic tools for a quick retouch.
However, the fact that an image-editing app is the most complete in terms of tools does not make it the best. There is a majority of users looking for more balanced applications that allow them to edit their photos without having to take a photography course and in that range is where we find the most practical options, always without forgetting options designed for scenarios that are more specific.
In this sense, the objective of this selection is not to find a definitive winner but a variety of apps among which each user can find the solution that best suits their needs. These are our candidates:
As I said above, Lightroom is one of the favorite image retouching tools of professional photographers and its mobile application is one of the most complete you’ll find on Google Play.
Its strong point, apart from its exhaustive editing tools, is its ability to manage collections of images, allowing not only copying editions of some photos to others, but also to add labels and even to classify the images. It also has the option to synchronize with Adobe Creative Cloud, so you can access your collection of images from anywhere.
However, its main advantage is also a problem, since inexperienced hands do not express all their potential and there are areas that can be somewhat complex to handle if you are not familiar with more advanced editing tools.
However, if you’re looking for a faster edition, Lightroom is also a practical app because it has a wide range of presets (‘presets’ for friends) with which to give your photos a different touch in a single click. It includes creative effects that mimic analog development processes, various black and white options, and vignetting and graining effects, among others.
Speaking of presets, Lightroom has an integrated camera that allows you to use these settings and choose the white balance settings to shoot the image directly with the desired effect.
Nevertheless, if you want to control all the details of the image at an almost professional level, including if it is a photograph in RAW format, Lightroom is without a doubt the application you were looking for. Within the settings section, there is a complete collection of more professional settings that allow much more exhaustive control over aspects such as exposure or tones.
For example, we can adjust the lighting through a tone curve that divides the options between highlights, highlights, shadows and dark, in contrast to most apps that reduce it to a single exposure parameter. The color options also offer very detailed control, allowing us to adjust each tone selectively as we do in the computer version.
With more than 10 million downloads and a score of 4.4 on Google Play, VSCO is one of the community’s favorite image editing apps. Its strengths are its intuitive and simple interface and that the pre-established filters usually give an interesting and very characteristic touch to the images.
VSCO allows you to shoot images directly from the app or import them into the library and it is divided into two distinct sections. The first consists of a collection of several filters that modify the parameters of the image without us having to do anything. Once a filter that has been chosen is applied, if we click once more on it, a slider will appear with which the intensity of the effect can be adjusted.
VSCO offers a collection of around ten series filters, but many more can be added, although paying, of course. If you click on the shopping cart, you can access different filter collections whose prices range from less than one euro to more than 30 euros for the entire collection.
The second section of VSCO is one of the adjustments, where you can retouch the photo to your liking without having to go through the hoop of the filters that, although comfortable, do not leave the freedom to achieve more concrete effects.
VSCO offers a collection of basic tools to give a different touch to the photos, but despite not having advanced features are more than enough for the editions that you will usually do with your mobile photos.
Among the available options are some common ones such as exposure, contrast, and crop and rotate, saturation or vignetting. In addition, there are others that are a bit more specific such as saving lights/shadows to avoid burned or very dark areas, discoloration to give a more romantic touch to the photos or the tint of lights and shadows.
A feature that I really like about VSCO is that once we edit an image it is possible to copy the editing parameters to another photo, a very practical function when retouching several similar images. On the other hand, I do not like too much that the editing steps are so abrupt and I miss a more sensitive control.
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Snapseed is another of the most downloaded publishers of Google Play and its popularity is more than justified. The app was developed by Nik Software and quickly became a reference photo tool in iOS, later came to Windows and finally, Google took over the company, extending its success also to the Android platform.
Snapseed is probably the app that best combines the complexity of its tools with a comfortable, intuitive interface and, above all, it is very well organized. At first, the number of options may be somewhat overwhelming, but after editing an image, you will be very clear you will not have problems moving between the different options available.
The settings are divided into two well-differentiated sections, with editing tools for those who prefer to achieve a more “on-demand” effect and a filter section with pre-set adjustments. However, in this case, we are not dealing with a simple list of filters; here there is also space for textures, blurring and much more.
One of the aspects that make Snapseed such an intuitive app is how to adjust the different parameters. For example in the section ‘Improve photo’, there are a total of seven settings. To choose an adjustment, simply slide on the vertical axis, once selected, the value can be increased or decreased by sliding on the horizontal axis.
Snapseed has many editing options, some very complete as the white balance, which allows us to select a point of the image to adjust the color temperature or the Brush mode, with which you can apply edits to specific areas of the image. It also allows you to adjust the perspective of the image, remove spots, and add bullets or texts. For removing a snag, Snapseed does not have an integrated camera, so you have to take the picture with another app.
Returning to the filters, Snapseed also offers a complete collection of effects to give a more daring look to the photos. For example with Retro, Grunge or Vintage lighting you can get very striking results that simulate old or damaged images. There are also HDR type effects such as the HDR landscape itself or Drama, background blur, black and white filters, frames and even a special preset for portraits. The options are practically endless, but in this case, we recommend applying the touch-ups with measure since we can end up spoiling the image if we go over creative.
In addition, Snapseed has the possibility of applying the latest changes made to another image, selecting which ones to add and which ones not, and selecting both the size of the image and its format (JPG or PNG).
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Adobe is not the only company dedicated to designing software that has tried its luck in the mobile universe, Autodesk has also joined this stream, they have done so with Pixlr, an image editor of the most complete and powerful we have tested.
Just open Pixlr allows us to choose between taking a picture with its integrated camera (which incidentally allows you to add filters and textures in real time), choose one from the library or create a collage. However, without a doubt what makes Pixel is its endless list of editing options and, above all, its editing brush.
Within the Tools section, Pixlr proposes several basic options such as crop, rotate, image adjustments, automatic correction and contrast, focus/blur repair and red eyes. There is also room for other less common functions such as double exposure, which allows us to superimpose two images and choose a fusion mode to create concrete effects or isolate colors, with which we can choose a tone of the image and make the rest appear in black and white.
As we said, the editing brush is the most outstanding feature of Pixlr. As can be seen in the last capture of this series, it is possible to choose to which areas of the image the retouching will be applied (in this case isolate colors) simply by painting over it. Nevertheless, there is more, the brush is present in virtually all sections of Pixlr, so we can also adjust the contrast or exposure of a specific area. It also has a draft to adjust the area to be edited in more detail.
Pixlr also has a section with more specific brushes to illuminate or darken specific areas of the image so that you can adjust the contrast to our liking. Also with the pixelated brush, we can censor parts of the image that we do not want to see before sharing it.
How could it be otherwise, Pixlr has a wide collection of creative effects ranging from filters of all kinds to overlays of textures or effects of light leakage? In addition, with the brush, we can apply the effect only in the area of the photo that we select. It also has text tools, frames and a wide collection of stickers to add to the photos.
Pixlr is one of the most complete image editing apps you will find on Google Play. Its interface is well organized and facilitates navigation between the functions it integrates. However, there are so many options that it is most likely that you do not use most of them.
We repeat with another Adobe app, rightly Photoshop Fix, one of the tools that added to the brand’s collection recently. It is an app focused on specific retouching in which we find common tools in Photoshop such as the correction brush or clone buffer, very practical when it comes to removing skin imperfections in a portrait or simply removing elements from the image. It also has the Liquify filter for deformations, focus and blur tools, cut/straighten tools and a section of adjustments with basic options such as exposure, saturation or contrast.
As the main objective of this app is to make specific retouches, to test it I chose a photo of a landscape in which appeared a fragment of a tree in the upper part that was not quite right and preferred to eliminate. To do this, I used a combination of the correction brush and clone buffer tools and, although the result was satisfactory, I found aspects that can be improved.
The cloning buffer works well and the way in which the handling has been solved is quite comfortable, it is with the corrector brush where I found more problems. Those of us who use Photoshop usually know that the corrector brush or “shiver” is a very useful tool but also demanding in terms of performance. In the case of Photoshop Fix, I found a very slow operation that takes a long time to calculate the touch-ups, but what bothered me the most was that the results were not so good and the algorithm could not eliminate the edges effect of the brush.
Talking about a brush, both the correction tools and the Liquify filter, as well as the focus and blur options, allow choosing the size and hardness of the brush, two basic aspects in any retouching.
Although with some improvable points, Photoshop Fix is a very complete app to make punctual adjustments on images, the editing options are rather scarce, so it is best to use it in combination with another more complete editor.
If you are one of those, who prefer to give a special touch to your photos with risky and very eye-catching editions, in PicsArt you will find many tools to get your most creative side, but if you prefer editions that are, more traditional it may not be the most appropriate application.
Just open PicsArt we have the option to take a picture with its integrated camera and filters in real time or choose one from the library. The next step is to edit the image, create a mosaic with other photos or draw on it, but what we are interested in is the editing tab.
We said that PicsArt is an app very focused on adding creative effects and filters, but in its tools section it also offers basic retouching options such as classic settings (contrast, saturation, shadows) and more specific ones such as tone curves, liquefy or even your own version of the clone buffer.
PicsArt will also allow you to select to isolate objects, an unusual function in mobile editors, although you have to have a good pulse to get a clean selection.
If we go to the most creative sections we find the Magical section, where a good collection of filters is combined to the purest Prisma or Effects style, which has several categories of effects such as blurs, distortions or artistic filters.
PicsArt also allows you to create a custom border or superimpose effects such as light leaks, bokeh flashes, and textures of all kinds. Other options include adding texts, stickers, icons, lens flares, shape masks, and even comic-type balloons.
We closed our selection with Fotor, an editor with a nice interface that reminds us of VSCO, but with many more editing options available, both manual adjustments such as filters, frames and other presets.
Fotor gives us three options when opening the app: edit an image, create a college or take a photo with the camera. In this case, your integrated camera does not come with filters or other effects but focuses on tools such as burst shooting, grid or image stabilizer.
Once we have chosen the image it takes us to the editing screen, in which we find the tools available in the lower part, but do not be fooled by its simplicity, many of them include more options that make Fotor a very complete editor.
Another very interesting section that we do not usually find in other apps is that of scenes. Here Fotor offers us the classic scenes that we have in our camera to add the settings to usual scenes such as backlighting, sunset, night or cloudy. The downside is that it does not allow you to adjust each effect.
How could it be otherwise, Fotor also includes filters, and they are not few? The app shows different categories such as Vintage, Lomo, Mono or Retro and within each one, it includes nine more filters. It also offers the possibility of buying some filter packs, although with all those that come standard you will not miss more effects.
Prisma is one of the most popular photo editors, and for good reason, since the wide variety of artistic filters that come with the application are truly in a league of their own and are difficult to find in any other image editing application. The eye-catching filters available in the application display the signature artistic style of several renowned personalities, and the collection is frequently updated with new filters to keep the community of users hooked to the application.
Nevertheless, there is still more. Prisma has other options such as custom frames, the effect of lens blur, stickers and a pixelated brush to censor parts of an image that you do not want to be seen among other tools.
For example, if we display the Adjust section, we find basic tools such as brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, shadows or bullets. However, it also gives the option to adjust the image by curves and even to separate the tones.
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