Hi FreewareFana! My 1st recommendation would have been PhotoFiltre free, but I liked it so much, I paid for the upgrade and had forgotten that the free version didn't support layers, so I went looking thru my programs and here is what I found:
Freebyte's Guide to Free Graphics Software
Try this site - its one of the first I discovered and it has links to quite a few apps that are interesting, including Pixia, Photoplus 6, and Painter 25 (this one is a little bit...well, odd, but check it out anyway. It has what it call layers, but, like everything else, it handles them a bit differently - and that's in their own words! I haven't used it recently, but its worth checking out).
PictBear se 2.0
This may be what you're looking for - here's the quote from klite tools:
PictBear SE 2.0 is a complete image editing and effects package, that will amaze you with his features. PictBear SE offers all the standard editing features (selection, clone brush, paint brush etc.) as well as a large selection of image effects, photo masks, image adjustments and more. The program offers a clean and easy to understand interface that includes all common editing tools and various image effects. PictBear SE comes with several pre-defined special effects and the option to add additional ones. A powerfull image editor, packed with useful features for every day image editing . PictBear SE, free alternative to Photoshop !
I made sure that is DOES have layers! The downside?.....the help section is in Japanese (the program interface however, has been translated into English). This is a pretty slick looking program, and if you have PShop experience, you should be able to figure things out (hey, if I can, anybody can!).
Here's a direct link to Pixia - I've written about it on your other post, as has another member, Idahl. Its a fun program and has a loyal following, and yes, layers! And everything has been translated ;-)
This is one of those programs where once you've played with it, your jaw hits the floor, and the only thing you can do is mumble over and over "I can't believe this is freeware!" It USED to cost $300, but in 2005 (I think), the developers turned their attention to their 3d product and made this one free for all. Its excellent for painting or photo editing, and accepts Photoshop plug-ins like Harry's Filters and Paint Engine.
This is a gem and I plug it whenever I can. Doesn't look like much out of the box, but once you get under the hood....wow! Its listed in GOTD's library, but the download link wasn't working, so I've given you the homepage. Not only does it have layers, there's morphing, screencapture, cloning, well, you name it, PaintStar's got it!
Nuts, I forgot to mention: Artweaver. Its more of a painting program, think Corel Painter, but it has a lot of nice stuff and you can edit/clone photos with it. And then there's Project Dogwaffle - while the free version doesn't have layers, it does have a swap buffer you can use. Its orientation is mostly painting/animation and definitely worth a look (I eventually upgraded to Pro). Just google these two, my paws are really getting tired from typing!
Hope these help - let me know how it goes!