What a stupid name Gimp is, and how embarrassing it can be to use. Sometimes I cover my screen when working in a public place, so people won’t see the word “GIMP” splashed across it as the program starts up.

What a great program it is though. Gimp is the Gnu Image Manipulation Project, a very handy graphical design and photo editing program. It has a lot of similarities to Photoshop. If you are looking for a free and open source alternative to Photoshop, look no further.

Here are a couple of useful hints if you want to start using the Gimp.

Firstly, get the ebook “Grokking the Gimp”. Search for it on Google. I think it is even available as a package for download in Ubuntu and Debian. The book is a little out of date but it has lots of very good tutorials and information.

Secondly, has links to some very good tutorials. There are also heaps of great tutorials on the web and if you get the hang of Gimp, you can follow photoshop tutorials and replicate them in the Gimp.

Criticism of the Gimp

Some people say it is complicated and hard to use. Yes it is harder to use than MS Paint, but it does a lot more. I don’t agree that it is harder to use than photoshop, I think it is just what you are used to. I started off with Gimp and I don’t know how to use photoshop. Gimp has an unusual layout, with lots of windows for the one program. Once you get used to that, you come to like it. If you want the quickest entry from Photoshop to Gimp, try Gimpshop.

For my purposes of correcting digital photos and creating digital images, the Gimp is more than adequate. I understand that some features photoshop has are missing from the Gimp such as good support for CMYK colourspace (check, that may be fixed now). This may put off some professional image editors but for the common case, Gimp is great.

Most features that Gimp is “missing” can be replicated by using multiple tools or steps in the Gimp.

Advantages of Gimp

  •  It is a professional quality program and extremely powerful. From what I gather, Photoshop is its only rival
  • You get free upgrades. Sure, Photoshop may have a few more features but within a year or so Gimp catches up.
  • I haven’t yet used it myself, but I understand Gimp has better scripting facilties to automate tasks
  • Gimp runs on Linux and I don’t think Photoshop does

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