I used to use Ulead Photoimpact (my favorites) and Paintshop Pro. I purchased them. But when I bought a new computer, I needed to purchase upgrades (actually costing the same as the product) and I chose a free program.
Paint.NET - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com
It works well for me. But I haven't looked at anything else.
Home Windows Software Digital Photo Software Photo Editors Paint.NET
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by: Download.com staff on August 31, 2014
Paint.NET is a full-featured image editing program that gives you tons of tools to work with through an intuitive and streamlined interface. Whether you just want to touch-up your photos before you share them with friends or you need high-quality images for another type of project, this program will get you where you need to go.
Nice interface: This app presents all of the tools you need to create beautiful images in a clean and accessible way. Many of these are arrayed around the main working window, while others are contained within their own windows, which you can reposition anywhere on the screen to clear the space you want to work in.
Lots of tools: Whether your project involves adding layers, introducing text, or using filters and effects to get the look you're going for, you'll find what you need in this program. There are more options in all of these categories than you'll probably ever use, giving you the ability to create just about anything you could imagine.
No extremes: This program is a good option for intermediate users. It isn't quite accessible enough to make it the right choice for users who have no experience with photo editing programs, and it doesn't offer all of the advanced features that experienced users will be looking for.
Layers for text: While this app does let you introduce text into your images, you have to create it in a separate layer if you want to be able to move it around or experiment with it as you work. This may not be a huge inconvenience, but it does add an extra step to a lot of projects.
Paint.NET has a lot to offer when it comes to editing and enhancing images for a variety of purposes. It's a free app that provides nearly as much functionality as some of the more highly rated image editing programs and makes these features available to everyone.
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From dotPDN: Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plug-ins.