Anyone who’s ever looked at the price of PhotoShop and shied away, can truly understand and appreciate the value of a much lower priced substitute. But one that is in most respects every bit as good as PhotoShop, but is free?
Yep, that’s GIMP, or more accurately, the GNU Image Manipulation Program. The reason it’s free is the same reason it’s so good. It’s written by many people all over the world, a consortium, if you will. Mostly professional programmers, but some hobbyists, GIMP additions or changes are bantered about across the Internet and only the best stuff bubbles to the top. And that is exactly why it’s free, because it’s all about pride and respect. That’s what a good programmer gets when his piece of code is accepted; a boost to his pride.
When GIMP loads, it looks a little different from most software, in that it has three distinct and separate screens; the Viewing Window, the Toolbox and the Layers, Channels, Paths and Undo ‘” Brushes, Patterns and Gradients.
The Viewing Window is where the photograph resides. Across the top of it is a familiar looking menu listing general categories of what can be done to a photograph; which turns out to be a lot; far too many things to list here. But you know when you hear about a photograph being PhotoShopped? Well it takes a lot of options.
The Toolbox has a set of 38 tools, all of which are used in one way or another to manipulate all or part of a photograph. And, as if that weren’t enough, each tool can be extensively customized so that it can do exactly what you want, not approximately.
The other window holds the stuff that tracks what is going on. For example, if you want to create a certain effect with a photograpy, you might combine two photographs together and keep just the parts you want. That’s layering. The third window keeps track of all the layers you could ever want. It also keeps track of any changes you make to any of the layers so that you can go back to any point in time when you’re editing in case you don’t like how something has turned out. It keeps track of which tool was used to do what thing too, in case you want to recreate that effect somewhere else.
A lot of people shy away from using GIMP, claiming that it’s difficult to learn how to use. That’s not the case at all, what it is, is, a lot of stuff to learn; far more than most every learn about say, a word processing program. But the payoff for learning how to use GIMP is that once you know how to use it, you can do pretty much anything with a photograph that the professionals do with PhotoShop; and that’s no small thing.