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You can produce superb graphics and gif animations for your site quickly and easily using TotallyHip's WebPainter, as sold for £60, and it won't cost you a penny
WebPainter 1.0 is a superb Web graphics package. You can use it to produce animations for your Web pages, your Windows desktop and any documents that support animated GIFs. You can also export AVI files, if you need to.
Animated GIFs are pretty standard tools for adding polish to Web sites. They don't take up anywhere near as much space (and hence download time) as conventional animations and yet, once you understand their limitations, they can still look pretty slick. GIF animations are made up of dozens of individual 'cels' - still images that are slightly modified from one frame to the next in order to give the appearance of smooth, continuous animation when you play them back.
The painting tools in WebPainter 1.0 are entry level, harking back to a time when anti-aliasing was almost unheard of and everyone had to make do with Freehand or rectangular 'marquee' selection. The tools are effective, though, and you get the 'onion-skinning' feature, where the previous cel in the animation shows through faintly so you can judge the changes to make in the current frame.
There are also tools for organising the sequence of your cels, the dimensions of the animation and the frame rate (the higher the frame rate, the smoother the animation but the more chance of it displaying jerkily on a lower-spec machine). WebPainter is easy to use, once you know your way around the interface, and how to use its tools to best effect.