Sometimes I need to make programmer art for things like UI or whatever. I refuse to pay money to adobe for this purpose, so I'm stuck with what's free.
I really... don't like Gimp. I respect it. I respect its principles and I'm glad it's there. In fact I used to crop the screenshots for this very post. But it's just not very good or easy to use. So every now and then I step off the road and start wading through the marsh, looking for something better.
Paint.NET is a total failure for me. On top of wigging out on my graphics card or something, and having a web site covered with skeezy fake download button ads, it just doesn't draw very well.
I actually am most comfortable in Flash, see: my previous career, even though, I'm told ;-) that Flash sucks for actually drawing stuff. But I've never used Illustrator so I don't know what I'm missing. I used to use Paint Shop Pro, a million (20?) years ago. I like pixels just fine, but modern photo editors just never really clicked for me.
I'm trying out Inkscape now and actually liking it pretty well. It's free and open source, and unlike Gimp it seems to care about how people use it.
It's not perfect, the defaults are a little weird, and the gradient editor tool is.. strange.. but so far I've been able to basically do what I want to do with it, which is astonishingly rare for a free paint program. Actually, astonishing rare for *software*, I'd say. I really appreciate the polystar tool options:
It lets you deform the hell out of the path in several ways that, honestly, they didn't have to support. But they did and it warms my heart.
And then you can mess with it further by grabbing that handle and...
Then there's this thing:
with which you may choose to: