Welcome !! sounds like you have a handle on some of the things you'll need to use to make quality maps. I use GIMP which is an open source program an although it has it's limitations it's very good for this purpose. Inkscape is another open source program and there are others that can be used to help in map making. Check out the tutorial section and when your ready post a WIP it's the best way to get feedback and suggestions. I look forward to seeing your work..