I've been lurking here a few years (admiring everyone's incredible maps) and I thought I'd involve myself more; I think I've got to the point I won't be embarrassed if I posted something I made in GIMP here.

However, I usually start mapmaking with very detailed pencil drawings.

This time, I want to, instead of just creating what is essentially a doodle (a complex and detailed doodle, sure, but still a doodle) I wnat this to be an actual map, and that means using a proper map projection.

So the question I have here is; what's probably the best projection to use?

Since I know there is no 'best' projection, here's what I want. I'm making a map showing an entire world (and since all the major landmasses on the world are explored and settled, it needs to include everything). There is no land under polar ice caps, which are both small, and so a little distortion at the poles is ok. But since land is quite evenly distributed between around 60 degree north and south, I don't want too much distortion going on. I'm not sure whether I want a rectangular projection or not; on one hand, I'm sure it's a lot easier to produce in GIMP or whatever, but on the other hand I really don't like how they look that much.

Secondly; are there any programs instead of GIMP you would recommend for this kind of job? I'm ok with getting familiar with a new program if it'll help me produce a better map.