If you are learning graphic design and haven’t got a big budget, the first investment I would suggest is a layout pad and pencil/pen (yes – seriously). The most important thing will always be your ideas and the design rather than the tools you use to implement them. However when you are ready to take your ideas on to the computer there are a couple of good websites you may want to try to find free graphic design software as alternatives to paid commercial programs.
On this site you have a couple of options, if you have something specific you are looking for – type in the mainstream commercial design program ie. Dreamweaver and then it will give you a list of alternatives (both paid and free).
To narrow it down to just Free and Open source use the drop “Filter by License” menu. You can also filter by platform – Mac, PC or Linux.
With “Alternative to” you also have the option to browse through software by choosing your platform from the top menu and then choosing the type of software you are looking for.
Here you can simply search for the commercial graphics software (eg. Photoshop) that you are trying to find an open source alternative to. When you have found it select it and underneath you will find a list of alternatives along with which platform they are available for Mac, Windows or Linux.
Have fun, but don’t forget the humble pencil!