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What's the Perfect Graphics Program?

If we could design the perfect graphics program after testing all these products, what would it look like and what features might it have?
  • Useful wizards for easy image editing, import/export, and manipulation
  • A method of easily downloading images from a site
  • An integrated image browser or straightforward external one
  • A great GIF/JPG optimizer
  • Live editable type
  • Dozens of Web-related effects
  • 3D capabilities
  • Simple animation creation and editing
  • Support for layers and PNG files
With all that in mind, is there any perfect program that stands out above all the rest? Not really. Some of these come agonizingly close, but when we reach for one tool or the other depending on what we have to accomplish, it becomes clear that none of these tools has absolutely everything. The best thing is that we didn't really find a clunker in the bunch...they're all good, solid tools.

Top Winners

Still, we did find some winners: winner Macromedia Fireworks: This comprehensive tool can do just about everything, and will especially appeal to professional graphics designers. Fireworks doesn't have half the learning curve of Photoshop, yet rivals it for sheer power (and beats it for Web-related work). The new slicing, tweening, and JavaScript rollover features might be worth the price alone. winner Ulead PhotoImpact: If you're on a budget, don't spend all of your time tweaking pixels, or don't want to, we can't think of any better way to spend $100 on a graphics program. The SmartSaver becomes part of your Explorer menu, and the effects, button and background designers match or beat any of the other products tested. Highly recommended.

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