Thanks for the flowers.
I basically wanted to show that it is possible to do nice even with zero starting knowledge of graphical applications, and I hope I have succeeded in that goal.
An excellent tutorial here by Jurgen Hubert on Gimp and inkscape, but if you look further down the thread there are also good tips for other graphics applicaitons:
Ditto on that; Jurgen's tut is very, very well done. I think the GIMP is a great program, and that series of pages helps a ton. Any plans to add to it, Jurgen?
My Pleasure - It's wonderful to meet the man himself!
Recently, Jurgen has streamlined his GIMP/Inkscape tutorial and moved it over to a wiki: http://artwiki.wikidot.com/digital-cartography