I found a FREE software program similar to PSE and PSP. It has layers, supports transparency, and includes many useful tools like eraser and extraction tools. It is called Serif PhotoPlus6. It is an old version of the photo editing software created by Serif (a leading software company in Europe). It is a little limited, but it does the basics, and it is FREE! You can upgrade to version 8 for only 10$ and it is much improved and includes picture brushes. The newest version is 10, and I think it is 80$. Anyway, you can check it out at http://www.freeserifsoftware.com/
Here is a layout I did using only the free software. http://www.digitalscrapbookplace.com...0&ppuser=39104
If your trial version of photo editing software has expired but you are not ready to dish out big bucks yet, you might want to check it out.