We occasionally see members being recommended The Gimp as a free alternative to photoshop and other photo editing packages, but how good is The Gimp, really? Well I decided to find out.
I downloaded a copy from the website: http://www.gimp.org/ . The file comes in a respectable 17.4MB. Installation was easy, using the usual window, agreement screen and a couple of clicks and it was done, all up taking about 3 minutes to download and install. Your internet connection speed may alter this.
Now to run it.
First off it froze when ‘looking for fonts’ but I waited a minute or two and it finally self recovered and started up. Screen is fairly basic, but the menu is familiar, toolbox is in a palette on the left and the layers palette and brush selection opens on the right. Buttons look familiar and similar to those in Photoshop.
I opened a photo and had a look around, the drop down menu’s have all the same nomenclature as photoshop, but some menu items are not where I expected them to be and some of the icons are unfamiliar. For example, the crop tool is what looks like a Stanley knife icon, which had me hunting for it and using the help feature http://docs.gimp.org/2.6/en/index.html a bit (which is quite good). Finding the levels tool proved interesting and a bit of a search of the help files. I expected it to be under layers menu, but it is hidden away in : Tools > Colour Tools. But once I found it, it performed admirably and as expected. Sharpening using USM was fast, and worked well, giving my photo a nice result and certainly on par with USM in photoshop.
I even managed to make myself a watermark brush, using basically the same steps as the photoshop tutorial one here. It was simple and easy.
I played with The Gimp for about an hour, and other than having trouble finding a few tools, it works brilliantly. It does just as well as photoshop and I reckon for an experienced photo editor, an hour learning the location of some features, you would be able to easily do some serious editing in The Gimp. For those just starting out and maybe a lack of funds is a good reason to look at The Gimp, give it a go, it is much better than I expected it to be. And if decided to upgrade in the future to Photoshop, Elements, Paint Shop Pro etc, you will be easily able to assimilate to their menu and processing methods.
For someone just starting out in photo editing, there is a lot to learn, but with a few hours, and some support from those who are familiar with photoshop or similar, you can quickly learn the same techniques they use, and do them in The Gimp
The Gimp is exceptional for a bit of free software. I am quite impressed, more so than I expected to be