The most difficult task I've faced designing web pages is image editing. I've had no prior artistic experience or aptitude, and frankly nothing had ever made me feel more dense than sitting in front of a program like PaintShop Pro and staring at its 7,000,000 features..
I thought anti-aliasing was something the police were in favor of, that a mask was for Halloween, a lasso was Roy Rogers' specialty, Dithering was Dagwood Bumstead getting his boss's goat, a global palette was a love for international food, and resizing was something they did at NutriSystems. Cropping I knew about, having accompanied several women to their hair salon.
That's all changed now! After camping out on Wayne Fulton's website, 'A Few Scanning Tips' for a couple days, I had my 'aha experience'. (Remember that from Psych 101?) Wayne has a way of applying artistic technique to digital imagery using a maximum of hands-on examples, and a minimum of jargon. I began to understand this stuff and suddenly realized there was hope for me.
I learned that even Sam, could maybe, just maybe, have a chance at cloning pixels, feathering edges, blurring and sharpening features, removing red-eye, and all those other neat features I never related to. It seemed to me that many of you might now have the same apprehension about the mysteries of image editing, so I wanted to add a small topic to my web site to give others hope.
One important thing I learned, in spades, is that a person can have too many image editing programs! I had seven! New ones kept pouring in every time I purchased a scanner, a PrintShop type program, and even FrontPage 2000 and before that Adobe PageMill. It's pathetic (and time consuming) to flit from one to the other trying to accomplish an effect, not really understanding any one program all that well.
The other important thing I learned is that most web design activity requires understanding a couple dozen editing features and the rest of the 7,000,000 features can wait for another day!
Based on my own experiences, I've compiled for you a checklist of the software capabilities that I think are among the most important. (They're not listed in any particular order.) If your image editor can do these easily and well, and you're comfortable with it, it should probably be your editor of choice. I've supplied a few examples from this web site, as appropriate.
At the end of this topic, you'll find links to the three products my research led me to.
I took a hard look at JASC's PaintShop Pro, because their name kept coming up every time I read a review. For years they had received high honors as a premiere shareware program. I have heard nothing but raves about Adobe Photoshop from people who are professional designers (and who can afford the price tag). And the vibes are quite positive about Ulead's PhotoImpact. Ulead software has been chosen by some scanner manufacturers to represent their products, and I use their Cool 3D product.
I decided on PaintShop Pro, based on features, support, popularity, and price, and never looked back. Meanwhile, if you'd like to investigate these programs as I did, here are links to the 3 products I mentioned: