Let me start by mentioning that programs like Adobe Fireworks / Photoshop etc are amazing but very pricy.
There is an alternative which is called http://www.gimp.org/
, and totally free.
Offcourse an Adobe Master Collections CS5 can be found and 'leased' through other canals,
the exact how and where is in my opinion not something to talk about online and visible ( reasons are obvious I think ).
Overal most of these work programs work the same, it's like a Buff Daddy vs a DAS6 ( in a really tiny nutshell )
Some programs go way further, each an everyone with their own specialities.
If we stick to Fireworks vs Photoshop: I started with FW due to the fact it felt more of an extention to me than PS.
FW has minor abilites to control/addapt images then PS, but for general use it's more then suitable ( well for me personally then )
The downside is indeed the way you can't create those awsome images that stand out more.
If you want to manipulate the lightning, crop / blend / fade / make licensplates disappear .... FW is your friend
If you want shiny text, smoke / neon and all those extra goodies .... go for the PS
It's just like detailing: Buff Daddy is awsome but sometimes you're short .... a Spin Doctor has to be acquired !
is an awsome site which provided help / tutorials / downloadable files etc
I can write some basic handles fo you to hold on to / help you out .... just let me know and I'll give it a try to help you out !