As one living on a limited budget, and unwilling to shell out hundreds of hard earned dollars on essential image editing programs such as Flash, Illustrator, Photoshop, and others, I've spent the last few months searching for free alternatives. The links here are from http://www.download.com and are guaranteed to be spyware-free. They also all run on Vista Home Premium x64. Hope you find this article helpful.
Instead of Photoshop try...
...Gimp -> Has customizable plugins, much like Photoshop, as well as the ability to add brushes. it's probably the closest thing you'll ever find to Photoshop for free. Even offers layers. http://www.download.com/GIMP/3000-2192_4-10073935.html?tag=mncol&cdlPid=10892557
...Photo Filtre -> For those who don't like or aren't comfortable with Gimp for whatever reason, Photo Filtre is another free alternative users of all levels will enjoy. The only drawback is the lack of layers. http://www.download.com/PhotoFil