For the many people who don't want to shell out a huge amount of money for software like Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, I HIGHLY recommend Apple Pages for Mac users (only $19.99). Pages is Apple's version of Microsoft Word, but with amazing page layout tools and some pretty nifty easter eggs. I won't get into much on the page layout, except to say that most people use InDesign for page layout in creating magazines, books, etc. You can see below a screen shot from Apple's website demonstrating a well-designed layout.
The following tools are two reasons I think Pages pays for itself:
1. Instant Alpha Tool (Click on photo; in the menu bar, click on Format > Instant Alpha)
This tool will take the background out of a photo with a simple click and drag over the areas you do not want. You can click and drag more than once, so it pays to take your time clicking and dragging on certain sections of color , as pictured below).
Granted, it's not as powerful as it's Photoshop predecessor, but it definitely does the trick, especially for photos where the background is more solid in color and contrasting with the main foreground element. I recommend placing a bright colored square shape in back of the photo before you start so that you can clearly see if you've gotten everything as you are using the tool. Also, as you are deleting the background, don't forget you can undo (command+z) any time you take out too much. Below is my finished collage.
2. Pen Tool (click on Shapes in toolbar and choose the last icon with the calligraphy pen tip)
The pen tool is the bread and butter of Illustrator, and it's in Pages! Like the tip above, it definitely does not have the full functionality of the mighty pen tool in Illustrator, but it can do quite a bit. The most common uses I've recommended would be for creating your own logos. While I recommend hiring a professional, if you're strapped for cash and want to try something on your own, this would definitely be a good place to start for custom shapes or tracing over a sketch/illustration. It works a little like "connect-the-dot" – each click you make creates a line.
The illustrations below were all created in Pages by my friend and former co-worker Carlos Joaquin, from "What A Dream I Had". Check out this awesome time-lapse of him in action as he draws a Charlie Chaplin illustration!