Buying Photoshop

Brigid (sorry, spelled it wrong at first!) over at Home On the Range is asking her readers to help her decide if she should buy Photoshop, or not, to play around with.  I put my two cents in the comments, but this really deserves a full post.

First off is the financial considerations.  Photoshop is EXPENSIVE.  Even with the student discount it cost me $200, last I checked the full version was something like $800 or $1000 and I doubt its gone down much.  Thats alot of money to put into a piece of software that may not be what you want.  Now, Photoshop Elements is cheaper, but doesn’t have all the fancy smancy features of the newer Photoshops, but even better are some of the free tools out there.

I know there are more less expensive sets availible, I’ve not much, if any, experience with most of them so I’ll let you do your own research, but one online freeware I have used is the Aviary set.  The basics are free, though there is a subscription plan that I’ve never looked into.  The photo editor has the large majority of the same tools as Photoshop for free, that you can plan around with and figure out if this is something you enjoy or not.  After all it would really be annoying to spend all that money on Photoshop and then realize you don’t really enjoy working with it.

Something else to consider is just what exactly do you want to DO with this software:

If all you want to do is enhance your photos you may not NEED all the fancy stuff in Photoshop.  Take a closer look at Aviary and some of the other less expensive softwares out there and you’ll likely find they’re all you need.

If you want to create ART out of your photos, well then maybe Photoshop is for you, but I still highly recommend playing around with the above mentioned other softwares first.  For those of you who are wondering what I mean by “art” go HERE and browse for a bit, my current favorites are images one and two HERE.  The things people can do with some skill, effort, and way to much time on their hands!

A third thing you may be considering doing is drawing, sketching, or creating art by hand using these softwares, and in this case Photoshop is probly NOT right for you.  Oh, it’ll do it, sorta, but thats not what its designed for.  Take a look at software such as Corel’s Painter suite.  Much more designed for the artist in mind.  You can modify photos with these softwares, but they’re designed for drawing instead.

If you’re asking what I use, well, I have both Photoshop CS4 and Corel Painter 11 and I use them both.  As for what I do with them:

This photo was originially just of the barn.  I painted the fairy on it using a combination of Photoshop and Painter.  This image won Jurors Pick on Worth1000 (In a beginners contest).

This was a normal rose, till I started playing around in Photoshop.

This horse was done in Painter

Here’s a before and after (done in Photoshop) of a photo I posted previously of the puppy.  Can you tell the difference?

last but not least, a water color “painting” done in the originial version of Painter (before Corel bought it).