Thank you guys for the rep as well as for your very enlightening comments.
One of the most important thing this map has told me is patience but it's a double-edged sword.
I re-did my roads once and my labels thrice because I had made some mistakes but earlier on did not have the patience to redo my mountains or my forests even if I knew they were not satisfactory.
However, moving forward nevertheless gave me a "ensemble" view of the whole process which I now see much more clearly.
It's difficult because I learn by doing but since I have my nose in the tutorials the necessary hindsight for a more artistic consistency also eluded me.
I basically used GIMP because it's a free program and the map showed by RobA in his (have I said it already? ) most excellent tutorial appealed to me but the style I would aim for is probably closer to
Pasis' magnificient Bretoria map. I know it's ridiculously ambitious to aim for something like this at this point since I don't even know if I have it in me but it's something to aim for.
The other reason I posted this map was because I was aiming for a sense of accomplishment. It's far from perfect but perfection is so far away that I figured I was better to finish an imperfect map and get some very useful comments (which I did) than to spend twice the time and still have nothing to show.
So it's an eternal struggle, patience makes perfect but on the other hand I could read every turorial in this site and not have drawn anything 6 months from now while by doing this I got my hands dirty which is a good thing.
It also seems that the maps I tend to like are done in Photoshop and since I am privileged enough to have CS3 I'll move on to it right away.
In any case, I would be honored to hear the words and thoughts of all of you about your experiences and progression in map-making. To use RPG terms, was the levelling constant or did you feel you hit roadblocks or frustrations at various points in your learning experience?
Sorry for the long blah and thank you for having the patience of reading me.