There are a lot of programs available for editing pre-existing images. If you have a digital camera, you probably received an inexpensive "light version" of one along with the camera, so that you could eliminate Red-eye and do similar simple editing.
Irfanview has more extensive capabilities than does Picasa, but is correspondingly harder to use. It was originally designed to be an image viewer. The editing features grew out of those functions.
Both of these programs, and many of the less expensive programs on the market, are designed for editing existing images — not for creating images. For that, you can start with something simple like Microsoft Paint (included with Windows).
Adobe Photoshop Elements, JASC’s PaintShop Pro (now owned by Corel) and Ulead’s PhotoImpact (my choice) are relatively expensive for home use. They can be used to create new images, but are really at their best in editing existing ones.
Adobe’s Photoshop and Corel Draw are the two most widely known image creation packages. However, both are quite expensive — few home users will choose them. They also have steep learning curves.
If you’re interested in graphics, but not interested in spending big bucks, you might be interested in the Windows version of the graphics editor from the Linux world. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is open source and easily available for download from www.gimp.org
Like the other powerful graphics software, GIMP will challenge you to understand it. Fortunately, there are good documentation and tutorials also available at www.gimp.org.
There’s even an add-on called GIMPshop ( www.gimpshop.com ) to make the Windows version feel much more like Adobe Photoshop.