In my seemingly neverending quest for an image manipulation program to do my ebook covers, I'm now learning to use Gimp.
Gimp has the ability to do layers which is a must do for me. I want to be able to combine images, one on top of the other. It also allows for cutting and snipping part of the image.
Gimp has some nice text manipulations too. It can do blurring and smearing of your text. Both of these features are useful for doing spooky title layouts.
Best of all this is a freeware program.
Give Gimp a try and let me know how it works for you.