Hello, I'm new here and I wanted to try my hand at digital painting. I'm primarily a sketch artist with graphite and I've never messed with color much. I'll be buying a graphics tablet soon for this stuff and I was wondering if Gimp 2.6 was fairly equivalent to Photoshop so I can avoid throwing down big money for the industry standard paint program. It must be around $1000 or so for PS these days I would imagine. I remember back in the day my copy of Illustrator cost me around $700 over 10 years ago.

So my main question is will I be wasting my time if I focus all my artistic effort on GIMP trying to learn how to use all the tools and techniques for digital painting? Is Photoshop superior in some respects to GIMP? And will my skills transfer over nicely to PS if I ever decide to make the switch? And what about Paint.net? I hear it's not as complicated as GIMP and might be a better choice for me as I learn the basics of digital painting. If Paint.net has the same brush tools and effects as PS or GIMP maybe I should give it a try if it has a simpler interface. I don't want to get too overwhelmed with digital painting programs. The interface of GIMP looks to be about as complex as Autocad when I studied drafting in college.

I know those are a lot of questions but I really don't even know where to begin. Maybe I should just stick with my pencils in the meantime. Thanks for any advice.