Originally Posted by esaitchkay
Use STOCK images, and not other people's work. Most stocks have CC indicators; telling you what you can and can't do with the work (e.g., "you are not allowed to use this stock for commercial purposes blah blah)
+1. On top of that, there is one special site with 15 000+ photoshop tutorials. If you need some practice, try to follow at least half of the tuts, and the next day you are a designer
Also browse Deviantart, your friend when you are looking for a stock image.
Photoshop, as said is your next friend. With just few clicks u can add simple details. Whether its just cotrast / brithness change, to gradient layers / masks and eg. mosaic ( used in signatures a lot ). I am also not a proffesional, and i am also thinking of buying a tablet. Sure its better then mouse, or trying to find some sneaky side way to get your desired picture. However, you must be able to draw a little.
In this case Youtube is your friend. Many videos showing how to draw, not only with pencil ( on paper ) but also with tablet.
All i can think of now....