Creative Cloud Alternatives

Posted: 5th September 2013 by ToadHollowPhoto in Review

There has been a lot of discussion lately circulating around Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering in terms of photography post-processing tools.  Many software companies are moving towards a monthly subscription model and in some cases this works fine for artists, but in other cases many of us would like Creative Cloud alternatives.  Our favorite post-processing tool of choice has always been PaintShop Pro, and just this month Corel has released a brand new application, Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate Version.  The full version retails for $99.99 and upgrades are priced at $79.99 for editions that are instantly available to download online.  These incredibly reasonable prices deliver a very powerful toolkit for the photographer at a one time cost that gives you years and years of image creation.  What a great value!

“The Fog Of Winter” Limited Edition: 10 Prints –

All of the images we create here at Toad Hollow Photography are done with PaintShop Pro, even our Limited Edition Prints.  While the Adobe Creative Cloud offering may have more advanced features, we find in our practice that we don’t need these features and they add unneeded complexity to our workflow.  Over the years, we have found that everything we want in our art is easily accomplished with PaintShop Pro.  This ability to focus on the pictures being created has allowed us to develop a deep portfolio and catalog of images in a very reasonable amount of time.

“Misty Reflection” Limited Edition: 10 Prints –

PaintShop Pro comes bundled with a large selection of effects and filters to use right out of the box.  Most common plug-in manufacturers also support this platform, such as Topaz Labs and their terrific assortment of add-on tools.  This makes your one-time software investment have real depth in the way that you can extend it with some powerful 3rd party tools, if you need them.  This goes to show the level of maturity and sophistication that PaintShop Pro has experienced over the years as it has been developed.

“Window To The World” Limited Edition: 10 Prints –

Good software is only the beginning, though, customer service and integrity are also important factors in choosing an application suite to go with for your needs.  The few times I’ve needed help with using the application, the customer service at Corel has been top-notch with quick and friendly support.  This goes a long way to helping you feel confident in making this choice as you always sense someone is standing behind you in case you need help.  The built-in help suite is a powerful place to start when trying to familiarize yourself with a new interface or are trying to dig deep into a specific feature.  Detailed help is always just a click away.

“The Hollow” Limited Edition: 10 Prints –

Built from the ground up to take advantage of today’s modern 64-bit computing platforms, loading and editing large images has never been faster. Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate Version comes bundled with a set of extras that can help you take your imagery to that next level, including powerful image correction technology Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging and portrait beautifying tools Reallusion® FaceFilter3 Standard.

A brief video presentation on their site takes you through a lot of the highlights quickly.  Digging into the site a little deeper reveals all sorts of features, including this quote that really shows how PaintShop Pro is suitable for everyone in the digital art field.

From the Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate Version site:

A complete toolset for all skill levels

Take your photo editing to the next level with pro-quality tools, including RAW editing, HDR, layers and more. Whether you’re a photography newbie looking to pick up the basics or an experienced user who wants to learn new techniques, the library of video tutorials offers the help you need to build your skills.

In today’s world it really pays to be budget conscious.  When you find an application like this that comes with so many compelling features at the same time it allows you to break free of monthly subscription costs, this is real value.  Whether you’ve been thinking about starting to work with pro-level tools in post-production of your images, or you are looking for an alternative to the cloud model, Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate Version is most definitely a software application you should check out before making your decision.  You won’t regret it!




  1. This post is so interesting. I must admit I did not even know about Corel’s photo editing software. I was in a photography program that started me in Photoshop — and that’s where I’ve stayed, quite happily. But this looks like a great option for others.
    I think your “Window on the World” is absolutely exquisite. I could look at it for hours!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us Sherry, and for your absolutely wonderful comments! We really appreciate all the kindness and support, my friend!

  2. avatar LensScaper says:

    I was really surprised to read this, Toad. I had always (automatically) assumed you would be a Photoshop expert. I recall being aware of PaintShop Pro many years ago but that awareness was purely a theoretical statement with no practical experience at all. I didn’t even know it was still around. I am not happy with the Photoshop decision. I’ve tried Photoshop Elements and dislike it! I’ve never used Lightroom, yet. I suspect that Photoshop CS5 will last out for a good few years so I’m tempted to stick with it – it’s been a long learning curve, but the thought of starting from scratch with something else is not an attractive proposition. Aarrgghh – decisions!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      🙂 Thanks so much, Andy. I had a feeling this post was going to surprise a few folks. I just like being able to share an option with everyone, for many folks Photoshop is a must-have tool, but for others options like PaintShop Pro work wonderfully.. as it does for us in our practice!

  3. avatar Edith Levy says:

    I have to agree with Andy Toad. I just assumed you used Photoshop. Thank you for this post. I will look into Paintshop. I’ve been using Photoshop Elements and have been please with it but you never know. It’s always important to explore other options. Excellent post.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks, Edith, that really means an awful lot to us here! As you said, I love sharing options with everyone, you just never know when this might just be the ticket for someone!

  4. I’m always looking for alternatives to my very ancient CS and used Corel for a while many years ago but really stuck with CS. So still looking for a more up to date editor without breaking the bank. At any rate these product reviews of yours I always read with great interest and they are very much appreciated.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      This seems to be a common thread amongst photographers, and we are so happy to share a reasonable alternative here with everyone. Many will elect to stick with the powerful platforms offered by Adobe, but some of us really appreciate having a reasonably priced alternative that works wonders! 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind visit and comments here today, Joseph, we really appreciate that!

  5. avatar Renee Besta says:

    Toad, thanks for this excellent post on alternatives to Adobe software. Although I am a long-time user of both Photoshop and Lightroom, there may be many togs who need something else and who can benefit from Corel products. I must admit I was furious when Adobe made this wrong-headed decision to end perpetual licensing, as it will end up costing much more money for a lot of us.

    Since 2005, I have purchased each version of Adobe’s Design Suite Premium, as I also do graphic design and need InDesign, Illustrator, and Acrobat Professional as well. I have spent a small fortune on these products and each upgrade, not to mention all the fees for training in terms of books and online training subscription fees. The upgrade price for the prior Creative Suite was $599, less the 15% discount I received for being a member of NAPP. Thus it cost me about $510 once every two years to upgrade to the newest version of the CS Design Suite Premium.

    With the current $50 per month subscription cost, this ends up being $1200 each and every two years – a whopping $700 more than what I had been paying. The worse part is if you stop your subscription at any time, you no longer have access to the software on your computer. There is no stopping point to get off the Adobe runaway money train. This means you are forever locked in to a monthly fee until the day you die.

    I feel this is a terrible decision by Adobe, and very unfair to loyal customers. I do not need the slew of other software products they make, so to lump them all in together does not help me. Yes, many photographers do not use InDesign or other Adobe products, so they can benefit from the new photo bundle offer by Adobe to subscribe to Photoshop and Lightroom only at a very reasonable price. But for those of us who need just one or more other software products, the $50 per month option is the only one.

    The other problem with Creative Cloud subscriptions is that you will always be forced into upgrading your computer hardware, software, and operating system whether or not you need or can afford to, in order to resolve compatibility issues. Just my two cents! And a lot of two cents it is. Thanks again.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I am a firm believer in using the right tool for the job and for some folks the Photoshop suite of products is the only way to go. For us, though, with our work we don’t need the extended features in Photoshop and PaintShop Pro does wonders for our images. As you’ve mentioned here, and I do agree, I am a huge proponent of having software that you buy and install, I don’t like chasing around hardware upgrades and making sure my subscription fees are all up to date, I’d prefer a one time charge and download and install… from there you can use it forever. I know a lot of folks are thinking along the same lines as you, Renee, and that’s exactly why we wrote this post; a way to offer an alternative for those who might be interested.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your detailed and thoughtful comments, my friend, I am sure they will serve as food for thought for many who come and read this post. Fabulous comments, I truly appreciate it.