a tribute and my humble contribution
of brushes, scripts and information for
the GNU Image Manipulation Program

What is a GIMP? (It doesn't sound too healthy.)
  An image editor that is robust, mature, very actively maintained and constantly improved. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program -- and was the initial purpose (over 10 years ago) for the popular, cross-platform widget set GTK (the GIMP ToolKit.)

  Although I am certainly biased toward the GIMP, I realize this is so because it fits my needs very well. Below I hope I am able to give a realistic summary of what GIMP is good for, and if it is the right image editor for your uses . . .

What would I use it for?
  Photo editing. Creating web graphics, fliers, business cards . . .  just about anything that can be done with pixels. If you check out my other site, WPClipart, you'll find over 27,000 images all edited and many created with the GIMP. It does photo editing, advanced manipulation, is scriptable in several languages, does animations, batch processing, converts, opens and saves a multitude of image formats and comes with over 100 filters/plugins.

What can I compare it to?
  There are a lot of image editors out there. A few new ones are designed to edit vector-based (usually SVG) images, but the majority work on raster images, like photos. (Often referred to as BITMAP images.) Many come bundled with cameras or office suites, but they are meant for speed and simplicity -- resize, adjust brightness/contrast, throw on a frame or automatically reduce red-eye. If all you do is a quick and dirty edit of camera pictures, one of those is likely more efficient for you.

  Then there are dedicated image editors. Several have come and gone, but there are only two heavy-hitters I will concentrate on -- Photoshop and the GIMP.

GIMP advantages over Photoshop . . .
  • Price. Photoshop costs $649 (US), GIMP costs $0.

  • Bundles extras. GIMP comes bundles with a slew of patterns and filters and "Script-FUs", including drop shadows, lighting effects, frames, logo-maker, etc.

  • Multiple document interface (MDI) -- might seem awkward if you are accostomed to Photoshop's SDI (single...), but it is flexible and powerful. I have used both programs extensively and find the MDI much easier to navigate, especially when several images are opened at the same time. It is simple to shove things nearly offscreen as well as minimize, and separate menus for each image cuts down on "oops" factor. Simply put, the UI is more modern and powerful. If someone says different, it is because of old habit.

Disadvantages . . .
  • GIMP is not part of a workflow suite, whereas Photoshop allows documents to be easily transfered into Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat . . .

  • If you work in commercial arts, you will be expected to know Photoshop, not the GIMP.

Conclusion . . . (from a GIMP fan)

  Unless you need to use Adobe products for your production workflow, then there really isn't anything beyond the GIMP needed to satisfy your raster graphic needs.

  You can't go wrong learning and using Photoshop, but most of the time you can do just as well -- and sometimes even better -- using Wilber's venerable GIMP.

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