How do I get modern Imageready functionality

I'm a programmer - not an artist -- who occasionally has to deal with PSD files. I have Adobe Imageready 3 and Adobe Photoshop 6.

Functionality I use now:
- opening PSD layers files
- Taking JPG's and slicing them into HTML
- using Pen and Erase to clean up images

The question is, what is the best but also most cost-effective way to get the same functionality I use now but in a more modern version?

Do I really have to spend $850 for an Adobe product?

Also I'd prefer something that isn't massively complex.
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joomla_phpAsked:
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avgavgConnect With a Mentor Commented:
For the purpose you have described, the versions of PS and IR are more than enough. There is no need to upgrade since no new functionality has been added in newer versions that are not available in your versions with specific reference to the purpose you have listed.

Good Luck!
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
Thank you avgavg - sometimes photoshop can't open psd's saved in later versions. I sometimes can get them open in imageready. Other times I have to ask that the saved version be downgraded.
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jeremyjared74Connect With a Mentor Commented:
If you only need to optimize images you can use Yahoo Smush it, it is simple and effective. You loose no quality, but reduce the file size greatly. LINK: http://www.smushit.com/ysmush.it/

For Photoshop edit-ability you can try this site for 5 alternatives: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-simple-free-photoshop-alternatives-that-are-under-2-mb/

For the best match, but not exactly simple: http://www.gimp.org/
(This one is completely free also)
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
jeremyjared74 - I'm not sure I see it in the makeuseof list - The ability to open psd layers.
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avgavgCommented:
Joomla_php:

To open and convert a large number of image formats including PSD, an excellent and free option is IrfanView.

You can check out the free trial version first from http://www.irfanview.com

Good Luck!
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
well what I really want is a simplified version of imageready's editing toolbar functions, not just a viewer. i.e., use the magic erase, clone -- simple things compared to the whole photoshop experience but typical for my use.
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avgavgCommented:
Check it out. It is not just a viewer and can do most simple editing functions.

Good Luck!
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
I did. It doesn't do the stuff you'd find on the imageready toolbar.
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avgavgCommented:
Joomla_php:

It is certainly not a substitute for PS or IR. You can use it to open and convert newer formats which you are unable to open in your PS or IR versions.
 
Cheers!
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SaigonJeffConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You might also want to take a look at Paint Shop Pro. It's not that much and has many of the same abilities as Photoshop. I used to use it often until I made the switch to Photoshop completely.

Try it out... You can get the full version right now for a mere $60.

Check it out here:
http://www.corel.com/servlet/Satellite/us/en/Product/1184951547051#tabview=tab0

Good luck
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
Is there also a paint shop pro XI? I'm confused about the versions.

Or is one photo only?
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SaigonJeffCommented:
Actually It is now Paint Shop Photo Pro X3. This is the only version currently available that I am aware of and it is supposedly the New and Improved Paint Shop Pro.

It will certainly do everything you need to accomplish and at a very reasonable price.

I recommend that you download the trial and give it a try... it be just what you are looking for.

Good luck.
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
I'll take your word for it if you say yes or no, but I can't find these features. Does it let you:

erase an entire background (magic erase)
erase like drawing with a pen
clone an area
draw a gradient
stroke text?

To all of my kind experts - maybe I wasn't clear before, do any of the tools you've posted do these tasks?

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jeremyjared74Commented:
ImageMagic does this, and it is free.
http://www.imagemagick.org/script/index.php#features
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
Does imagemagick have
- a windows installer
- a windows GUI interface

?
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
I found the installer but the only GUI is imdisplay, which doesn't have any editing capability.
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jeremyjared74Connect With a Mentor Commented:
I posted the wrong program I meant InkScape:
http://www.inkscape.org/download/?lang=en

You will see a windows version click and download it.

As for the imagemagic here is a site with some install information:
http://www.learningmovabletype.com/a/001866installing_imag/
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
While I don't see the analog to imageready I'm looking for, inkscape and paint shop pro are reasonable answers to the question.

I guess I was hoping for an imageready clone. I suspect inkscape has a lot going on but there's a learning curve, and paint shop pro does some neat smart extract that will take some time for me to finesse.

thanks for all of the answers.
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
It's hard to answer a question that doesn't have an answer. But I do appreciate the expert answers given.
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joomla_phpAuthor Commented:
I know we closed this - I will open a new thread if there's interest. I just found xara which looks pretty good, full version is $500 but lesser versions are cool and quite cheap.
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