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Beginning teture mapping

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I am working on a small demo engine, where I want to try out varius shadow algorithms. (Shadow map and volumes for starters) I need some content to work on, so I decided to model some parts in a Cad tool that can export to Wavefront format. So I got some models, but I need to put textures on them. My problem is that I have never tried that before, and therefore I neet to learn it from scratch. What programs can I use and how do one proceed?!? I prefer to strt out using freeware applications. :) I aim at creating a wavefront reader to load the results into my engine, but I am not sure how it works. I have seen the format of the polygons (the .obj files), but I dont know how I pass texture files. Is it just a image file of som sort. (I have seen the expression .mtl - what is that)

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