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So what exactly is photo shop? I know it can make pictures look cool. Do I have to use a scanner to transfer pictures onto the computer? Is that the most common way to do it?
Photoshop is a program for manipulating the pixels within a photograph. If you want to know everything about the program go to www.wikipedia.com and type in photoshop. They will most definately help you out.
To answer your question though, photoshop deals with digital images since it is on the computer, and any digital image will work perfectly for it. This means scanned images as well as images taken with a digital camera or downloaded from the internet.
On this site, most people use photoshops paint functions that were introduced into the program a few years ago. Inside photoshop you have a tool that is known as a brush. It allows the user to click and make lines on the screen that simulate different kinds of media like pencils or paint. Using this tool, plus a lot of experience and talent, some artist can make beautiful images like the ones you see here.
It's not really what photoshop is *FOR*, but people can get fantastic results with it.
what's the cheapest GOOD photo shop program I can get?
Well... Photoshop is a brand name kind of like "Coke" or "Sprite". It's actually what is known as a "paint" application. (as opposed to a "draw" application). There are lots of different "paint" programs out there that will give you varying levels of functionality. Usually the price is equivalent to what you get out of the program. Photoshop, by the company Adobe, is the industry leader and really the only program worth worrying about.
SO... the question to ask you is what do you want to use the program for? Just like going to the sports shop and buying the best club there won't make you Tiger Woods, the version of a paint program really only will reflect how much you know and how much work you put into the process.
All that being said, Adobe offers a stripped down version of Photoshop called Photoshop Elements in stores like Best Buy for around 60 dollars, I believe. It is what a great many people use, and find satisfaction with.
Personally as a Graphic Designer, if you REALLY intend to make a serious go of this, I'd reccomend getting the full PS program and really learning what it's capable of.
If both of those options are too expensive for you, there is a free program known as GIMP which is basically a replica of photoshop. It's available for download on the internet. Some things function differently than photoshop, as I understand it, and it's not as powerful, but it is free.