Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I used to use PhotoImpact which is no longer developed so I'm looking for a replacement. What made PhotoImpact great to me was the ability to work in both bitmap and vector modes.

What I mean by that: I could have an image or screenshot and easily add arrows, text captions or shapes to it. These shapes were vector objects so I could come back to them later and amend their properties easily.

Software I know of:

  • Paint.NET is purely bitmap so please don't recommend it - layers are not enough for my needs
  • Drawing tools in MS Office work pretty much the way I'd like - you can paste an image and then add vector objects on top of it. It just doesn't feel right to have the full-fidelity original images stored as .docx or .pptx (I don't fully trust Word/Powerpoint that they don't compress the image)
  • I'm not sure about GIMP but if it's just "better Paint.NET" (i.e., layers but no vector objects) I'm not interested
  • Photoshop is out of question purely because of its price tag

Corel killed PhotoImpact because they already had a competing product (Paint Shop Pro) but AFAIK it lacks vector features.

Any tips for PhotoImpact alternatives would be very welcome.

share|improve this question
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Try Inskscape, it's free, open source and multi-platform and it is really a wonderful and powerful application.

It is primarily a vector graphics editor, but can handle basic functions (import, scale, rotate...) on raster images too.

share|improve this answer
I just did a very simple test - downloaded Inkscape, pasted a screenshot, added a text and saved as PNG. The screenshot was blurred, unfortunately. –  Borek Apr 15 '10 at 19:33
There is an "export" function which did a good job. I think Inkscape might be what I'm looking for although I find it highly unintuitive. Thanks for the tip. –  Borek Apr 15 '10 at 19:42
It takes some getting used to... but it's worth it for the amazing features you get. –  Nathan Osman May 9 '10 at 22:56
add comment

There's a plugin for Paint.NET that allows you to do vector image creation:

I don't know if that will meet your needs, but since it's free you could give it a try.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I believe Adobe Fireworks does both vector and bitmap but the pricing may be similar to that of Photoshop.

share|improve this answer
I've seen Fireworks recommended elsewhere too, the only problem is its price. –  Borek Apr 15 '10 at 19:12
I used Fireworks back when it was Macromedia. Never seen better vector + raster integration. Alas, it's USD 300. –  hyperslug Apr 15 '10 at 22:55
add comment
  • You may be interested in Satori Paint, it keeps having always a free version in their site, satoripaint.com . It's cool that it mixes raster and vector functions.
  • xaraxtreme.org , if you have access to a Linux, this one is free, really comfortable to use, and very powerful. (and free).
  • It's commercial version, in Windows, Xara Pro, is a wonder.
  • Sk1 project. sk1project.org . Vector editor, also free. An advantage of this one is it has real support of CMYK, needed for print.

Edit: Sk1 Project last time I checked did not have the windows version done, but is planned, can't remember if was already Mac version, but their plan is support the 3 platforms.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If you're working primarily with screen captures, take a look at Snagit from TechSmith. It can easily do what you mentioned, but it's not a photo editor. Also, Photoshop Elements supports vector-based shape layers.

Another option is to find a used copy of Photoshop 7 or higher on ebay. PS6 introduced vector-based layers, but PS7 also added vector-based text layers.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.