Glad you liked the SEO Amazon!
I'm the independent sort, all self-taught in graphics, layout, design, development and coding. My degree is in organizational behavior from Cornell - lol.
As such, I can use about any photo editing program. While the mainstay is Photoshop, I primarily use an out of date product called PicturePublisher
(from the former Micrografx now owned by Corel).
I find it hard to recommend a non-standard program to others, but I have to say that the learning curve is a lot easier than with Photoshop and there is nothing in PhotoShop I haven't been able to do faster in PP. You can still find shrinkwrapped copies on Ebay et al for versions 8 and 10 if you are interested.
As for being able to do what I do, I don't think is that hard, but I have been doing it for a looong time
The biggest factor is actually finding a suitable graphic to modify - facial angles at al - then I use various techniques to integrate the image. Sometimes you can just lop off the head
, other times you have to blend in the structure and recolorize/reshade.
If you didn't see some of my other fun Superhero work like this, here are a couple of links:SuperKathThe ThingDebt AssassinZioraMr IncredibleSgt Fury
Some of these are better than others, or designed more for laughs than for great integration. Of course, they are funnier when you know the target person
These all from an ongoing internal sales contest for a client.
If you need further graphic advice, let me know.