Are you looking for a way to inexpensively take your web graphics up a notch? Or are you interested in learning about graphic arts or graphic design without spending hundreds of dollars on the basic software packages - which you may or may not enjoy using?
There are more and more "open source" software programs available, which offer many of the most popular features of their brand-name counterparts. Professionals who want to advance in their respective fields of specialty are obviously going to want to invest in professional software that has compatible features to other professionals in the field. However, hobbyists, or those wanting to "explore" digital photo manipulation, graphic design, desktop publishing, vector graphics, etc.. now have the luxury of doing so for free. Here are some examples.
Gimp: Gimp is good for those interested in the basic features available in Adobe Photoshop - photo and image manipulation, layering, digital art, graphic design. Read more about the features HERE.
Inkscape: Inkscape is great for making those retro swirly graphics and florals as well as 3D graphics, maps and charts. Its features are similar to the basic features available in Illustrator and CorelIDraw. Read more about Inkscape's capabilities HERE.
Synfig: Synfig is an open source animation program, useful in creating the two dimensional (cartoon-like) animations seen in many video games and machinima. Find out more, HERE.
DarkTable: Darktable is a virtual dark room, for digitally enhancing digital photographs. Unfortunately, it's only available for Linux and Mac users at this time, but if this is you, check out the features HERE.
Scribus: Scribus is a graphic design program for creating print media (brochures, flyers, magazines, etc.) and professional web pages. Find out more, HERE.