Useful Open Source Software: GIMP

| tech | foss | software |

update 6/11/2024: this is a post from a blog that I contributed to in 2011 called TechHacking, it shut down eventually but I was happy to be able to find some of my work through the internet archive.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a very powerful piece of image editing software that is comparable to Photoshop. It is free to use, and offers you many of the same basic to advanced image editing capabilities as Photoshop without the hefty price tag. It is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

GIMP is now at version 2.6 and has come a long way since its humble beginnings. It started off as a small project designed to create a Photoshop-like program in the Linux environment and since 1995 has exploded into a very powerful graphic design system. It is one of my favorite pieces of open source software and I am constantly amazed by the amazing capabilities of this program.

The program has many features that computer graphics designers will find useful, but at the same time beginners may be intimidated by the amount of options that are available. When first run, you are met with several screens, tons of menus, and tons of options. If you are new to graphic design it may be very intimidating and overwhelming. Luckily there is a lot of documentation on how to effectively use GIMP. There are free tutorials for all ranges of expertise available on the website. There are also a lot of books that have been published about GIMP, the newest being GIMP 2.6 for Photographers: Image Editing with Open Source Software by Klaus Goelker.

GIMP has so many uses that it would be impossible to list them all here. But I have found that it is perfect for creating small banners and logos for websites, doing simple to advanced image editing, and adding cool/funky effects. Every website that I have designed to date has used GIMP in one way or another.

One of the coolest features about GIMP is that you are able to create custom scripts and modules to do pretty much anything that you want to do. Granted this is one of the more advanced features of GIMP, and has a significant learning curve (not to mention knowledge of PERL and basic understanding of scripting languages), but with this added capability the possibilities are endless.

In short, GIMP is a fully featured graphic editing environment. It allows you to perform basic image editing functions such as painting, enhancing, and manipulation. It is extensible, with unlimited potential for new features. It allows you to easily load and save animation. It is able to handle a variety of file formats including but not limited to: bmp, gif, jpeg, mng, pcx, pdf, png, ps, psd, svg, tiff, tga, xpm. GIMP is an awesome program, and if you do any type of work with graphics you owe it to yourself to check it out!

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