Bringing out the GIMP

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

As an Ubun­tu user at home, I don’t have the option of installing imag­ing soft­ware such as Pho­to­shop. Luck­i­ly, the best free and open-source alter­na­tive, GIMP, has just released a new ver­sion — and it’s fantastic.

While it does­n’t per­haps have quite the myr­i­ad of fea­tures that Adobe’s prod­uct does, it does have every tool I’ve ever need­ed (and a few more besides). Like Pho­to­shop it’s equal­ly good for pho­to manip­u­la­tion and web graph­ics cre­ation; this intro­duc­tion gives a good overview of its func­tions, and there are more detail in the fea­tures and release notes pages.

The main crit­i­cism that gets aimed at GIMP is that the UI is dif­fi­cult to use; I’d agree with that to a very small extent, but I think much of that comes with switch­ing from a pro­gramme like Pho­to­shop, and the lat­est release fix­es many of the pre­vi­ous flaws. My main gripe is that there is no con­tain­er win­dow so you end up switch­ing between win­dows too often on small­er screens; I’d also like to have fold­ers to con­tain groups of layers.

Still those are only small com­plaints; the pos­i­tives far out­weigh the neg­a­tives and in gen­er­al I think it’s a great bit of soft­ware which has saved me an awful lot of time and mon­ey. It’s very like­ly the most full-fea­tured free­ware appli­ca­tion around, and I’d like to give my con­grat­u­la­tions to the entire devel­op­ment team.

GIMP is native to Unix sys­tems, but also works on both Win­dows and OS X. If you need more fea­tures than the aver­age image edit­ing soft­ware brings but can’t (or won’t) spend a for­tune to do so, you need the GIMP.

3 comments on
“Bringing out the GIMP”

  1. Per­son­al­ly, I find the UI to be it’s great­est asset. As it allows me to have a fullscreen can­vas on one screen, and navigation/preview and tools on the oth­er one.

    You could always use the tab key if you have a small screen
    “… press­ing the Tab key (tog­gles vis­i­bil­i­ty of all docks) …”
    Though it’s sort of bro­ken on Win­dows. Press­ing tab only tog­gles if you have focus on a canvas.

    The thing I find to be most annoy­ing is that they use inch­es as the base unit.

  2. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for us Win­dows users, the print mod­ule in 2.4.0 is messed up. There is a bug report on Bugzil­la (491230), but I’m not hold­ing my breath. I’ve revert­ed to 2.2.17.

  3. Yes, I am plan­ning on switch­ing to GIMP very soon. The main thing for me last time I tried it was the lack of brush­es (which is now solved thanks to google) and the fact that when GIMP 2 first came out it kept crash­ing on my M$ box.