If you don’t want or can’t spend more than $100 in a software go for PhotoImpact. It was owned by Ulead until 2007 when it was bought by Corel. It is now on the X3 version and costs about $50 at the Ulead site.
I have been using it since its first version and until 2 years ago it was my primary software for designing together with Paint Shop Pro. Today I use Photoshop CS3 and PhotoImpact. There are things that PI do better than PS and it is easier to work with all the layers especially when you are creating a layout.
First thing that I truly like is the way you work with the layers. In PhotoImpact they are called Objects and they can be selected straight in the canvas without you having to go to the Layers palette, clicking on the layer and then coming back to the canvas. I just love this. Although you can still use the Layer palette if you want to or to set a few things, like locking the layer, linking etc…
PhotoImpact has a photo editing interface that is very easy to use: The ExpressFix. With this interface you can correct problems with exposure, color, focus and the like. The red eye remover is great and the Clone tool works perfectly to remove unwanted things in the photo.
Apart from all the photo editing you can create digital images which you will be amazed with. PI has an interface called Easy Palette where you can find loads of libraries with presets (Styles in PS language) that range from text frames, buttons, stamps, masks, paths, outlines, particle effects to creative lighting, all easily applied via drag-and-drop. It has 12 different paintbrushes, including airbrush, marker, crayon and more to apply effects.
You can create fun photo projects with easy-to-use templates for calendars, greeting cards, collages, DVD menus, CD labels etc. It even has wizards to help you with that.
I will be writing some tutorials and articles about PhotoImpact. If you have anything that you want just post in my forum and I will be glad to help you.
Copyright 2009 by Claudia Watkins