In the past couple of days I've been looking around for mapping software, tried some of the free programs and right now I have a question.

Most of the mapping software I found seems to work with icons or simbols you insert on the base of the map. I got the impression that this system is quite limited. I mean that you depend on these simbols to create your map.

On the other hand I suppose that learning to use a more complex program as Inkscape or Gimp should be harder, but in the long run, one will have much more freedom.

Now my question... Given that I must start from 0 on either choice, but I usually prefer to have as much freedom as possible, is a good idea to forget about mapping software and begin right with graphic software?

Wich ones had the best tools for mapping?

I'll begin with atlas style, but eventually I'll move to cities or dungeons.