What's cool about the great world of software is that you can always find a free alternative. GIMP is a great example of a nice application that can match what big players are doing without costing a single cent.
If you are just an occasional user and don't want to spend hundred of dollars for the real thing, then this application is definitely for you. Just read my GIMP review below to learn more ...
GIMP comes with all the tools needed to draw, erase and manipulate images easily and effectively. You have access to all classic selection tools (as well as the magic one for easier selection) and a cool one that gives you the opportunity to select through similar colors.
Drawing tools are also well-represented with the pencil tool, the airbrush, the painting brush and the good old eraser. You can edit most drawing tools, but settings are simple and quite limited compared to other similar application.
Other tools like perspective correction, image manipulation (rotation, mirror, etc...) and scaling tool are also a nice addition.
You can play with colors using the fill tool. Selecting a color is easy using all five modes available. Simply click on the color in the window and select one of the five color options. The last one might not be very intuitive, but all other four are pretty easy to play with.
The gradient tool is simple and straightforward. Many options are available for this tool, some very cool ones that are complex and useful, others that are useless most of the time and not very helpful.
The text tool is basic and confusing at first, especially if you are familiar with more advance software. It's not the most friendly text tool available and you might be frustrated at times when manipulating the editing box or modifying a few options.
You also have access to layers if you need to create more complex images or edit only part of your illustrations.
GIMP also comes with several tools to adjust the contrast, the brightness and the colors of your images. Even more interesting are the filters that you can apply to create stunning effects instantly. Most filters are adjustable and you can see a preview in real-time so you don't need to test each effect individually.
You can save your images in a wide variety of format including JPEG, PNG, EPS, TIFF, PSD and even create html frames.
The interface of GIMP is clean, simple and intuitive. The workspace is basically empty and you can open any windows that are required. You can customize your workspace and display only the proper tools and place them anywhere on the screen.
You can use tons of resources if you need help. You can switch from the help files, Context Help, Use Manual or simply view the tip of the day. Online resources are also huge with forums, tutorials, FAQs and online documentation.
GIMP is simply the best free alternative to any image editing software available. It comes with most basic tools and advanced ones that you could expect from such a software. Some tools are harder to manipulate or not as accurate as expected, but overall, it's a solid application.
Once you are familiar with this tool, it can provide great results and it's free! You can try GIMP here.