I know some of you arent very good at GFX. Its not for everyone you know. But for those of you who are pushing to get better and who are having fun with Design, ill answer some questions and gives some links too.
--Photoshop and the GIMP are the leading programs right now when it comes to design. Paint.NET is just used for myspace crap which = fail.
The Gimp is becoming like photoshop every time and every update. Its power can be used to produce REALLY good tags like the one in my signature and the Current UF Banner. Learning to Gradient Map and toning down/up things can produce this. Photoshop is truly for Professionals, ill be honest with you. It may give 2x the quality GIMP devlivers but you cant achieve that if you dont know what you're doing. So the whole "Which Program is Best" is up to the User, and their skill. I suggest you move on to Photoshop once you have the skill enough to use it, cuz alot of the tools are confusing for the minors.
--If you like to use fancy fonts, or just want something simplewise, Dafont.com is definitely the best place to go. They have fonts there for everyone, so dont worry bout that..
--Deviantart is another place to get brushes.
--Planetrenders and Stock Photobuckets are THE BEST!!!!! Stock Buckets pretty much own PR imo.
--Google is your best friend. Dont wander on GFX forums and post a useless Help thread. Some people are reluctant to help, so if you dont know wut a Clipping Mask or a Applied Image is, Google will help you plus provide tutorials.
--C4Ds are a tool. Like a machine. They will betray you if you dont know how to use a C4D properly. Sure they make your tag looks 2x better, but unless they rock with the flow, or have a good effect they pretty much fail too.
Thats all I got. I'll edit this once the questions continue to flow.