GIMP, or GNU Image Manipulation Program, is an entirely free, open-source image editor and creator that---now in its seventeenth year of development---finally seems ready to take on the big guns. Criticized for years for being too oddball, too unstable, too un-Photoshop-like, GIMP has finally edged its way into the mainstream. Yes, it's still really different from Photoshop, but after two decades of Photoshop, is that really a bad thing?
I felt a little lost when I first opened GIMP 2.6.11. For a Photoshop user, it's a little like visiting a foreign country for the first time: Some things seem familiar and others are not. Fortunately, GIMP's tool box includes tips when you hover over a tool; and the options for the tool appear in the lower half of the tool box when you make your selection. Also, the tutorials available on GIMP's website can help.