Gone are the days where you have to wait until you’re back at your desktop computer to edit your photos, apply filters, adjust colors, or remove unwanted objects. Today, thanks to our smartphones, we all have a powerful camera right in our pockets. And, with dozens of advanced photo editing apps available, you can edit your photos wherever you are.
Whether you want to create original photos for social media, posters, or mockups, or you just want to avoid using stock photography in general, here are seven of the best photo editing apps for designers:
Snapseed is a complete and professional photo editor developed by Google. It has all the classic photo editing abilities, like turning, cropping, straightening, and adding text, as well as 29 filters.
But, what really makes this app unique is its selective editing feature with Control Point technology. This lets you position up to eight points on the image and assign enhancements. All you need to do is tap an area you want to enhance and after adding that Control Point, you can swipe left or right to darken or lighten it, or swipe up or down to adjust the contrast or saturation.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC gives you a powerful, yet simple solution for capturing, editing, and sharing your photos. The beauty of this app is that both professionals and beginners can use it — you can edit a photo in second with five presets or make advanced edits with tone curve to change color, exposure, tone, and contrast. It also comes with RAW photo support, watermarking, and non-destructive editing that always lets you revert back to your original.
While this app is free to download and edit photos with, you’ll need to subscribe to Adobe’s Photography Creative Cloud plan for $10 per month for premium features like selective adjustments, perspective correction, and the ability to sync your photos across all your devices.
Price: Free, $10/month subscription option
“Gone are the days where you have to wait until you’re back at your desktop computer to edit your photos, apply filters, adjust colors, or remove unwanted objects.”
VSCO is a photo editing app designed to make your photos look like vintage film. You can choose from a collection of free preset filters or purchase themed packs from the store. Regardless of what you choose, every filter can be adjusted for brightness, contrast, and saturation.
The app also offers a built-in community that lets you follow and engage with a diverse group of creators from around the world. You can explore content from the people you follow, view curated work from the community, and get exclusive editorial content.
4. Afterlight 2 (iOS)
Afterlight 2 is a complete overhaul of the original and popular “Afterlight,” redesigned with a brand new list of features. Its extensive library of natural filters provides a variety of diverse, vibrant color grading and helpful image enhancements. And, you can even design your own filters to fit your style and give your images a consistent look.
Advanced tools like curves and selective hue, saturation, and lightness help you get the best out of your photos. You can use overlays and textures to superimpose two images together, add a vintage look to your images, or separate the RGB channels to create an abstract effect. And, with Pinch Zoom, it’s easy to view fine details and make precise edits.
5. Enlight (iOS)
The 2017 Apple Design Award Winner, Enlight, is a powerful Photoshop-like editor without the learning curve. Advanced features like tone curves, custom presets, built-in masking, and customizable filters help you create professional, beautiful images. And, of course, you can make the more basic edits like flipping, rotating, and straightening.
Enlight also offers a set of features for artists, like the ability to convert your photos into sketches or street art, and creating painterly effects. There are also features for the social media conscious creator as well — you can easily create memes, design unique photo collages with a variety of templates, and share your work directly to social media.
Many photo editing apps let you remove unwanted blemishes or objects from an image, but that’s usually just one feature among many. With TouchRetouch, the entire point of the app is to help you remove unwanted content. As a result, this app is completely optimized for ease of use.
Simply use your finger to highlight the items you want to remove and TouchRetouch will replace that object with pixels from the surrounding area. The Single-Flick Line Removal feature lets you mark only part of a line, with the app finding the entire object and removing it. You can also remove entire objects, like telephone wires, posts, trash cans, or photobombers, with the Brush or Lasso.
7. Pixelmator (iOS)
Designed exclusively for iOS, Pixelmator is a layer-based image editor that lets you open and edit images of up to 100 megapixels (and even Photoshop images). You can enhance image colors with pre-designed color adjustment presets and tweak them even further with Levels and Curves. Smart Alignment Guides help you perfect your composition and the Repair tool wipes away imperfections and unwanted objects. You can also combine words, shapes, and images, merge several photos into one, or remove image backgrounds.
Looking for more? The app also offers painting and graphic design features, like more than 100 artist-designed brushes, a custom-designed Pixel brush, compatibility with the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro, and 32 blending modes.
Did we miss your favorite photo editing app? Let us know on Twitter: @InVisionApp.
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Emily has written for some of the top tech companies, covering everything from creative copywriting to UX design. When she's not writing, she's traveling the world (next stop: Japan!), brewing kombucha, and biking through the Pacific Northwest.