While Painter continues to add features, I hear from some users that it can be somewhat buggy; from what we've seen at Adobe MAX this week, the next version of Photoshop might be an alternative. While Adobe is careful to say that all the demos in the Star Wars-themed (Mark Hamill had hosted the awards and stuck around for the preview to be gracious and funny about having no idea what the presenters - many of them in Star Wars costume - were talking about) Sneak Peek preview might never make it into a shipping product, the 3D-modelled, chemically-accurate natural media paintbrush looked in pretty good shape. The PatchMatch demo didn't go quite so well; doing a random walk across the image to find textures that match the hole you're trying to fill is an interesting technique but it didn't always find the perfect texture. Microsoft Research in Cambridge is looking at an alternative to seam-caving based on random Markov chaining that should also look across the image much faster - and the now-defunct Picture It! had what I call the 'remove tourist button' back in 2004 which did a very similar thing for removing unwanted objects. It's great to see the state-of-the art in photo touch-up moving on so much; with the MSRC-based background removal tool in the Office 2010 apps, we're starting to see a real democratisation of what used to be pro tools that took a long time to learn.
In detail: Future features for Photoshop revealed