Photopea vs Photoshop

Photoshop is the most popular, most used photo-editing software out there. It’s the industry standard and if you get a job in design you are expected to know it inside and out. Unfortunately, Photoshop comes with a high price tag ($20/month just for Photoshop, or $53 for all CC software) and if you’re a cash strapped student or amateur designer, it can put a dent in your budget. There have been cheaper alternatives to Photoshop for a while now, but none that have so closely matched Photoshop as Photopea.

To clarify, Photopea isn’t a program trying to be a good photo-editor; it’s a program, specifically, trying to be Photoshop. Photopea is not as good as Photoshop for most purposes, but if you have no budget for photo editing software, it’ll get the job done. Here’s why.


Much of the functionality in Photopea is the same as Photoshop, including many of the key commands. When you’re done, you can even save your work as a psd file. It does seem to be missing a few of the more complex Photoshop tools, which makes sense. It’s not actually Photoshop after all. There are no 3D tools, and no Camera Raw Filter. Surprisingly, there is a content-aware tool, although I couldn’t get it to work.

Some of the brush tools are a bit glitchy as well and only worked half of the time. The rest of the time when they worked, they lagged. As an in-browser photo-editing program, it does lag often. You’re also limited to the onsite font library rather than your own, although Photopea does give you the option to load your own fonts.

There’s a free version and a paid version, though both versions come with full functionality. The only difference is the premium version has no ads and allows for more history states. This means that the main benefit for the premium version would be the larger workspace you got without ads running down the right side of your screen.

Designing in Photopea

I wanted to test the limitations of Photopea so I experimented making a design that had text, imagery, and layer effects. I played around with it for about an hour, testing the adjustment tools, layer effects, and colour modifiers. Unfortunately, when I selected three layers and moved them together, this was too much. I was able to only move them part of the way before Photopea stopped working. The browser window remained, and I could still see my project, but I wasn’t able to select anything. The screenshot below shows how far I got before everything stopped working.

Photopea Test

To Conclude

Overall, Photopea is an impressive photo-editing program that closely (very closely) mimics Photoshop. For someone used to Photoshop, there is no learning needed; you just start designing. The main issue I had while working was the speed. There was quite a bit of wait time involved in many actions. Time adds up, and as designers we need to be able to do things quickly. For someone new to design though, this might not be as much of an issue. So for anyone who wants to learn Photoshop without purchasing it, Photopea is a fantastic option.

Obviously, the other issue was the complete shut down of my progress. There’s no way to save your progress if you’re not logged in, aside from continually exporting as a .psd as you go. This means that once it stopped working for me, that was it. Fortunately, I had exported to .psd before the issue and I was able to test out how well it imported into Photoshop. It actually did a great job. Aside from not having the same fonts on my system, the layers seemed to retain their original properties and the design looked exactly how it should.

To summarize: Photopea = Not too shabby

Have you used Photopea? What are your thoughts? Is this an alternative to Photoshop you’d be able to use in your day-to-day? Let me know in the comments!