There are hundreds if not thousands of different image processing and editing softwares you can use today. Each of them comes with its own strengths, weaknesses, complexities and simplicities. Today I'm going to point out which ones are my least favorite to avoid, and most favorite to recommend. I judge each software suite on everything from availability and compatibility, to ease of use and what you can accomplish using it. This won't be a traditional top 5 style list. Instead I'm going to make it simple to read in a layout of what you should all out avoid, to what you can use quickly and eventually what you can build yourself up to use as you get good. Let's dive in!
The first one we're going to talk about, is the software that everyone is aware of because it comes pre installed in every windows machine to exist since the 80's. We're of course talking about Microsoft paint! Since it already comes pre installed, it can come in handy when you need to do some quick cropping, or adding some super simply text to an image. Unless you have a couple tricks up your sleeve, that's just about the most it can do for you though. Since it's already there on your computer in most cases ( sorry mac users ) it will rank among our handy tools lists, but because it's insanely simple and under featured, that's all it will rank for. If it didn't come already installed, there would be no reason to have it.
Next up is what would probably be the closest "step up" from MS Paint, GIMP! GIMP is a very easy to use image processor that looks and feels like a beefy version of MS paint, but has way more features to it. If you practice and read a few tutorials, you'll find out you can do just about anything with it. So long as you're not trying to make anything too complicated, and with enough know-how, you probably wouldn't need to have another program outside of GIMP. It's a pretty small program to download and install and doesn't take up a lot of system resources to run. Watch a few youtube videos on GIMP and you'll quickly find how useful it can be. A lot of the tech guys I work with from time to time, never use anything except this one program. The best part about this program is it's free!
Next up on the list and my personal favorite, is an online image processor called Canva. Canva is awesome because you can do just about anything with it VERY easily. Because it's use through canva's website, you can easily jump from computer to computer and continue to use it and access your past work so long as you have an internet connection. Just about every image, both simple and complex on this website were made using Canva. I cannot praise enough how simple it makes doing just about anything you need to do, but it's downfall is that it isn't free. It costs about 10 bucks a month to subscribe to it, but if you find yourself constantly making little images here and there, it's worth every penny. I can get the idea to make an image, and have it finished in just a minute or two and am never frustrated with trying to do it. It's proven itself invaluable to me as a web developer.
Last but not least, the most complicated and in depth image processing software to date, Photoshop. You might have seen this coming actually, but time and time again Photoshop has proven itself the king. When I mention it's complicated to use, I seriously mean that. Simple ideas are made into difficult projects just because Photoshop's depth and feature rich software. However, if you take the time to learn and eventually master it, you can create almost literally anything. The most amazing photos you can dream of can be created using photoshop. It's biggest downfall, isn't actually how difficult it can be to use, but it's price tag. Purchasing it from Adobe can cost a lot of money. With that said, there are cracked, and portable versions you can find online for free if you know where to look, but you'll always be a few years behind. Being a few years behind won't leave you feeling like you're missing out on much though, so unless you're a pro and have been using photoshop a while, I wouldn't worry about it. If you have the time and the drive to learn photoshop, you can make anything, even a career out of it!