Colour us “jumping to conclusions”, but we’d have to guess that Photoshop is the best-known graphic design tool out there. but it’s not an optimal solution for everybody – the price tag is high, it has a steep learning curve such that you could spend years studying it and not know all of it, and it’s also aimed more for print graphics than web graphics.
For those of you looking for a more compact and economical solution, here’s a list of tools you might want to look into. These are all less costly (all but one is free!) to download and use, and are geared more towards smaller solution sets as well.
GimpShop – As the name suggests, this is the version of the open source G.I.M.P. program geared to Photoshop users. G.I.M.P. stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program”, after the GNU.org general public license. It’s about 90% feature-compatible with Photoshop, and is a much smaller, cheaper, and easier-to-learn program.
Paint.NET – This is the free graphics program using Microsoft’s .NET 2.0 framework. It’s come a long way since its origins as a better alternative to Windows’ Paint program (the one that comes with all copies of Windows). Now it’s a nice half-step between a Paint-level application and a Photoshop. Just right for slapping together a quick design.