Adobe Photoshop is the hands down gold standard for image editing. Adobe Photoshop is also $699 if you are buying it for the first time, putting the graphics editor out of the price range of an awful lot of people.
There are a number of free image editors and services that allow you to manipulated your graphics in different ways, and which won’t cost you a thing.
Don’t let the name put you off.
GIMP is the favorite of an awful lot of graphics folks. GIMP (which stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program) was originally created for UNIX systems, but has since expanded to include Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems as well, which means just about anyone can install and use it.
GIMP has often been cited as a replacement for Adobe Photoshop, however, it does have some limitations that make it less than ideal for print work. It is used for web image manipulation extensively, is very popular, and has a large community of folks that use it who produce excellent tutorials on how to get the most out of it.
And again, its totally free, so that’s always a plus.
You can check out GIMP and download a copy at http://www.gimp.org.
Paint.NET is another freeware editing program that’s highly reviewed, but this one’s just for the Windows folks and has not been ported to any other operating systems. While you would think you would get Paint.NET at http://www.paint.net you would be wrong.
You actually get Paint.Net at http://www.getpaint.net – though the owners of http://www.paint.net have very kindly provided redirection to the program.
This program was named PC World’s Top 100 Products of 2007, and in comparisons between GIMP and Paint.NET, Paint.NET’s been called a “better” program that’s easier to use, though that’s a pretty subjective assessment so if you’re on Windows and looking for a free option that you want on your computer, downloading both of these and test running them is a great idea.
Again, this one is only available for Windows, but also has a rich community of users that publish tutorials, and it has plugins and effects galore.
Splashup is a service that runs in any browser, so it isn’t a program that lives on your computer. The fact that it isn’t tied to a program definitely presents many benefits to bloggers, travelers, and folks that are often on the go when they attempt to add something to their site. With the advent of netbooks, lots of folks don’t want or can’t handle a large graphics program.
Splashup aims to closely emulate Photoshop, though it does run in the browser and so its unlikely that (no matter how much they want to) they will be able to fully emulate the power and options of Photoshop.
Splashup is flash-based, so it should work in any browser, and it integrates with popular photo sharing sites like Flickr and Facebook as well.