For those wondering what kind of graphics programs you can download, master quickly, and use to achieve professional results, I recommend GIMP and Blender.
Blender can be used to render 3D objects, from cartoons up to photo-realistic images, and additionally you can create animated videos with the objects you build. That and it's got more plug-ins and add-ons for special effects than you can shake a stick at. Simply amazing. If you decide to try it, though, I highly recommend you look up a "how to" video on YouTube for a simple project, such as rendering Google's Android mascot. Having someone show you how to build a simple project will help you get a foundation for anything else you try to do. After that, you just let your imagination fly.
And for folks that want Photoshop/Paint Shop Pro graphics editing capabilities, GIMP is the only way to go. It's super easy to learn and yet it's got every professional tool you've ever heard of. A little tip, though, for people that want to use it to pull images from a scanner: there's a lot of outdated stuff on the web about where the scanner option is located. As of version 2.8.6, it's in File, Create, Scanner/Camera. If you have a scanner that came with a TWAIN driver (almost every scanner manufacturer out provides a TWAIN driver that installs along with the other printer drivers), it will display that scanner as an option, and selecting the scanner will pop up the scanner's utility for obtaining scans.
Both of these amazing packages are free to download, and their authors and support groups ask that you donate something via Paypal. Folks, it's just the right thing to do to give back to the Open Source community, especially for software this powerful. I completed one project that involved both of these, and the first thing I did was go back to their websites and donate.
Copyright (c)2014 Todd Grigsby, all rights reserved