This page gives some details of the software tools I use to manipulate digital pictures and then turn them into finished products (prints, files, websites, CDs...).

Photo editing and storage

PhotoShop is apparently the bees knees for picture editing, but there's no way I was shelling out 400+ for a copy.  40 for this seemed a lot better.  Since I first bought the half-price V7 Anniversary Edition I've updated to V8.  I was disappointed at first, largely because the performance was so poor.  However, they've patched it up since and it now runs quite respectably.
One of the great things about modern paint packages are the extra "plug-ins" you can add.   I've got a few:
  • Virtual painter - turn your photos into oil paintings, watercolours, pastel...
  • Xtras - lots of additional resources (effects, selections, brushes) for PSP.  And under a tenner!  Xtras 2 is more of the same, and was only 25 with Gloop and Elemental thrown in for free!
I have so many photos now that I needed a way to organise them.  This fits the bill - and is so much easier to use than Jasc's PaintShopPro Album. 
This came free with the Wacom Graphire 3 Studio Tablet pacakge.  Considering you'd pay around 50 for the software on its own, this was excellent value for money.  It seems better in some respects for photo editing than Paintshop Pro, but lacks the vector editing features.

Web Design   

I use FrontPage 2003 for website design.  This doesn't only mean for use on the internet - I also use it to produce CDs etc.

I bought a copy of Office 2000 Premium with my first PC, which included FrontPage.  I didn't think I'd like it, having used FrontPage 98 before which has separate editors for pages and site structure.  However, 2000 and 2002 solved this and 2003 is even better.

I use a few other tools to supplement this:
  • Coffee Cup software's Firestarter - a cheap Flash programme.  One of these days I may splurge out on a full copy of Flash MX, but in the meantime this does all the quick animations I need for website intros, online greetings etc.
  • Marc Reed's SiteSearch Indexer - for CD-based sites that need an er..... index!
  • Jimco's addins for FrontPage - Lots of useful tools for enhancing FrontPage webs.

Desk top publishing

I wouldn't have splashed out the 90 asking price for this on it's own.  However, as it comes in Office XP I thought I'd give it a whirl.  And it's really great for doing one-off designs for things like greeting cards, gift vouchers etc.   I've yet to try a larger project with it.

Other tools

I've tried other CD burning software (I've tried Easy CD, Pyro and even the built-in Windows XP burning function).   It is really easy to learn (I've opened the help file about once in eighteen months) - about the only niggle I have is that the cover designer isn't that great, but then I've not tried the newer version.  A must for any CD burner!

Cakewalk's Music Creator 2003 is the cheapest of their music creation packages.  However, for unskilled musicians such as me it's quite adequate, especially for just pulling together soundtracks for multimedia presentations.
Windows Movie Maker 2 Free with Windows XP - and you can't get better value than that!

Last updated: 31/10/2005 This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence. 2004 R GillinCreative Commons Licence