Looking at the graphics challenges for both the TWT and the icontests I notice that not everyone is participating. I know I know...this is where the collective sigh of the ever famous "all I have on my computer is Paint."
Well...cry no more! I come with a gift! (I am co-mod...I'm supposed to be helping everyone, ne?)
There is a graphics program that can be downloaded for free. In this case, free doesn't mean bad either. Some of you may have heard me mention GIMP before. It's a free graphics program that is a combination of PaintShop Pro and PhotoShop. The difference...it's free. Have I said that yet? The link for all the information and where to download it is here:
http://www.gimp.org (this one doesn't like to work very often as its servers are overloaded)
There are even downloads through out LJ and the net for GIMP addons such as textures and brushes. You can also find LJ communities that have icon making tutorials specifically for GIMP usage.
Again...GIMP is free and being upgraded all the time. It's a great way to have the abilities of the more expensive graphics programs with no messy costs.