VIABLE Adobe CC Alternatives

For a more up-to-date list:

Unmaintained. See link above for up-to-date. Fleshed out List. Suggestions will still be considered for main article.

NOTE: One time purchase products or free only. Linux and OSS not prioritized as they generally aren’t viable for pro workflows in the first place. The ones that are viable will be included.

I’m not an expert in every creative Field so I’ll be filling out the ones I know personally and will take suggestions as discussion develops. Might turn it into a wiki as it nears completion.

F indicates there’s a non-trial free version available, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin: indicates platform support(Mac, Windows, Linux respectively), OSS indicates open source. If you cant see the unicode symbols you can still paste them into your page search to highlight them, or install a proper unicode font.

Premiere (Video Editing)

Drop in:

  • Davinci Resolve Studio [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Vegas Pro [:framed_picture:]
  • Media Composer (Really Expensive) [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Magix Video Pro X [:framed_picture:]


  • Edius [:framed_picture:]
  • Lightworks [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Final Cut Pro X [:apple:]
  • VEGAS Movie Suite [:framed_picture:]
  • Hitfilm Studio [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • Cinelerra [F,:penguin:, OSS]
  • Kdenlive (& other MLT) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Hitfilm Express [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • iMovie [F, :apple:]
  • Fastcut [F, :framed_picture:]
  • Corel VideoStudio [:framed_picture:]

AfterEffects (Compositing)

Drop In:

  • Fusion (Also available integrated into Davinci Resolve) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Nuke (Really Expensive) [:apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]



  • Hitfilm Studio [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Nearly any 3d Suite

OFX Plugins (Industry Standard AE/PR Plugin Replacements)

  • BorisFX Sapphire/Mocha/Ruby/etc. (High end wide range suites, cover almost everything)
  • Re:Vision Effects (Ultra High end matte/retiming/roto/denoise/tracking etc.)
  • Filmconvert (High end Grading)
  • Waves (High end sound design)
  • Neat Video (denoising)
  • BeautyBox (Face tools)
  • Mediareactor (Live proxy/transcode)
  • DFT Tools (economy wide range suite)
  • Frischluft Flair/Lenscare (optical flares, blur, tilt shift for 3d plates)
  • NewBlueFX TotalFX (Economy wide range suite)
  • Titler Pro (Broadcast overlays)
  • Martini (storyboarding)
  • Furnace/Camera Tracker (Ultra high end Foundry Plugins)
  • Resonance (particles/generative)
  • Baselight (lighting and grading)
  • Particel Illusion (particles)
  • Bokeh - Peregrine Labs (Optical effects)
  • Yuvsoft 2D3D, Stereo (Stereoscopic and 3d cg postproduction)
  • Geotracker (Camera Tracking)
  • Face Builder (3d face tools and Mocap)
  • Genifect (general plugin suite)
  • Nobe Color Remap/False Color/Display (grading and workflow)
  • ignite Pro/Action Pro (wide range suite/mocap)

Most but not all are cross platform. Many of the suite plugins are also available individually.

Audition (Video Sound Design/Mastering)

Drop In:

  • Protools [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Nuendo [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Reaper [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Mixbus (free version is called ardour) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Sequoia (Really Expensive) [:framed_picture:]


  • Davinci Resolve Studio (Fairlight) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Ardour [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Cubase [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • Audacity [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Goldwave [F, :framed_picture:]
  • Any production DAW designed for beatmaking or live performance, or without a good, flexible video timeline

NOTE: not a ranking in terms of general usefulness, but specifically for video postproduction, since that’s what Audition is marketed for. Most important features here are mastering tools, video timeline integration and bundled plugins that aid in the first 2

Animate (Formerly Flash)

Drop In:

  • Toon Boom [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Toonz (Free version called OpenToonz) [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • OpenToonz [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Moho [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • TVPaint (Very Expensive) [:apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]


  • Clip Studio EX (also works on iOS) [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Dragonframe (stop motion only) [:apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]
  • Cacani [:framed_picture:]
  • Blender Greasepencil [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]


  • Synfig [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Krita [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Mischief [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Pencil 2D [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Fire Alpaca (free version is adware) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:]

Lightroom (Photography Postproduction)

Drop in:

  • AfterShot Pro [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Affinity Photo (also available for iOS) [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • Darktable [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Rawtherapee [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Luminar [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • Gimp [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Krita [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin: OSS]

Illustrator (Vector Art)

Drop in:

  • Affinity Designer [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Corel Draw [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • Inkscape [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]


  • Mischief [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Vectr (browser based) [F]
  • BoxySVG (browser-based) [F]
  • Krita [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Clip Studio [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


Drop in:

  • Paintshop Pro Ultimate [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • GIMP (General Editing) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Krita (Raster Illustration) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • Affinity Photo (General Editing) [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Corel Painter (Raster Illustration) [:apple:, :framed_picture:]


  • Clip Studio [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • PAINT . NET (donateware) [F, :framed_picture:]
  • Fire Alpaca (free version is adware) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Photopea (browser based) [F]

Substance (Soon to be a CC Suite Tool)

Drop in:

  • Mari (best in class by far, really expensive) [:apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:]


  • ZBrush (really expensive, free version is called sculptris) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • BodyPaint [:apple:, :framed_picture:]
  • Materialize [F, :framed_picture:]
  • ArmorPaint (Alpha Software, prerelease available w/donation) [F, :apple:, :framed_picture:, :penguin:, OSS]
  • EditorPaint (Unity Plugin)


  • Pixaflux [F, :framed_picture:]
  • Any Built In Texturing tool (most are pretty bad though)

Comment with suggestions, Comments, or detail corrections e.g. [F, (WML), OSS] – Discuss merits etc.

Not covered: CC suite software meant as pipeline management(Bridge, Prelude), InCopy (it’s a fucking text editor), their open source stuff, Presenter, Captivate, or Speedgrade (an inhouse correction plugin, of which there are many replacements. Davinci Resolve is the most common replacement even among CC users.) If you would like one of these covered request it and offer at least 1 alternative.


Yeah this is a real nice thread. I really appreciated our last talk about this too.

A few tools you didn’t mention are Corel Draw and the products. Do you have any opinion on those?

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Never used skylum stuff, but corel elicits the same feeling I get when I hear “lotus” or “quantel” lol

Maybe, but they do seem to still be actually making software for the same type of customers they used to be with at least some amount of attention being paid and care taken, Corel that is.

At least it’s not like Quark with how QuarkXpress has gone.

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oh yeah, get that. It’s just you never really hear about em any more despite them being around

it’s a lot like Ikegami just busting out with new cameras every few years despite no one under the age of 26 even knowing who the hell they are

For InDesign, well there is the previously mentioned Quark but… yeahhhh.

There is the OSS

Also… before the first cheeky bugger even mentions it, please, no LaTeX.

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latex and sphinx are banned

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oh btw where would you put scribus/quark on the Id tier list?

Drop-in does everything just as easily, you can plop it down as a full replacement.
Close comes close, does most of it pretty well, or does everything less easily
Stopgap is a program designed for something else but capable or a program with limited features

That is an impressive list! Well done. :+1:

One problem I see here is that every program has different features. So you would have to know what the per case requirements are to know if a program’s set of features fit the job.

Example: Can RAW-Therapee replace Lightroom? Sure. If you only need it for RAW development. But if you need a bit more selective editing you have to add GIMP or Krita or whatever. But what if you really just want full control over the RAW image processing? Well, RAW-Therapee is your number one choice then. Regardless of price or license even, just for what it can do.

That is the best example I can give because that is where I come from but I am sure that it is like that in almost every case.

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The edge cases I think need most consideration here are ones not covered by other CC suite software.

almost no one does intensive roundtrip in Lr without touching Ps for example.

Same for Pr/Au/Ae

Leonardo could be a stopgap for Photoshop. I use it in conjunction with Clip Studio and Krita for my 2D art pipeline. good for hashing out ideas thanks to the option of infinite canvas and flexible as it can export at any resolution and DPI setting.

But otherwise it’s a better dropin for Autodesk Sketchbook.

1 Like

oh yeah, kinda like alchemy or mypaint for roughing right?

not necessarily alchemy, though you could probably use it like that if you wanted.
I see it more as a no-nonsense, simple drawing tool. Kinda like procreate for iOS

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that reminds me, gotta add that caveat to procreate

I used it for a few months when i was going through options and bought an IPad pro to test things out. Ended up with a Cintiq MSP instead, but I really want to get another IPad Pro and apple pencil just for toting around instead of lugging that beast of a Wacom tablet.

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Don’t know if its still the case but when I was in the market for one the current gen cintiqs were really shoddy and fragile, like all my friends that got them needed out of warranty replacement within 6 months.

Ended up going with a higher end korean one but it’s DVI dual link, so gonna have to replace it eventually.

I have a 12WX that’s still in working condition. The MSP i’ve had no issues with either and i’ve had that for about a year, year and a half so far.

glad to hear they got their shit together again, seeing as they’re practically a monopoly at this point.

I use them mostly because of good driver support on linux.

Had tried an Artisul D13, ok and windows, 0 support on linux.

Getting my money back was a nightmare because the package slip was missing and the tracking number had to get dug up by USPS even though the rep at Artisul confirmed they had a package with a returned D13 in with no slip.

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My yiynovas and my huion worked ootb, friend had a monoprice that worked fine too. More do than don’t these days as long as you don’t use them with wayland (compositor HID takeover)

Wayland in general is bad for touch and digitizer stuff