CorelDRAW Graphics Suite
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Full user review
"Does everything graphical & professionally"
This is a fully professional set of programs (Corel Draw and Photopaint plus Capture (for screen captures).
At about $400 still a bit on the expensive side for home users. But is a professional level program. Sometimes Photopaint becomes unstable and crashes, so one learns to save frequently. (You can also use the recover feature.)
Feels familiar and intuitive. As another reviewer said, it is like an old friend.
I have been using Graphics Suite for a very long time, and recently when I upgraded my pc to windows 7 I couldn't find my previous Corel Draw disk, so I tried to get by with the very nice freeware GIMP and Paint.NET. Those programs are excellent, but lacked the flexibility and ease offered by PhotoPaint which is the part of Graphics Suite that I use the most. So I purchased a used, unregistered disk via amazon. If I could not have found a legitimate, discounted copy, I would have paid full price because it is well worth it and is about half what Photoshop costs.
I was so happy with x5 that I bought my daughter a new copy as her birthday gift.
I use Photopaint for photo editing, graphics creation, video title making, and animated gif making. I like that it can open (uncompressed) AVI and MOV files for gif creation.
I use the masking tools a lot also for making transparent gifs and png.