|GIMP (GNU Image
Manipulation Program) is an open source digital image
editor, sponsored by none other than the Free Software
Foundation. In simple words, it is a free version of the
popular image editing standard Photoshop and a very good
job at it. Surprisingly, GiMP packs quiet a punch in a
relatively limited amount of space--all of 20 MB without
external plug-ins (7.8 MB setup). The image editor is
available for Windows, *nix and Mac OS X.
Prior installation of GTK + 2 runtime environment (4.2 MB)
is required or else GIMP will not launch.
Is GIMP easy to use? Well, yes and no, Did
you find Photoshop easy to learn? As with all photo
editing and 3D-modeling tools, the interface can be
intimidating in the beginning with a plethora of options
on display, Photoshop requires a high learning curve. GIMP
is no exception. Once mastered, this is where the funs
GIMP, like Photoshop, has a similar set
of editing tools and options. However GIMP differs in the
way it launches. Unlike Photoshop which has one unified
workspace, GIMP launches as a set of 4 different windows
(as you can see in the inset image).
The central window (Spiderman image)
loads when you open an image for editing from the main
(top left) GIMP window. The other tools, in clockwise
manner, are the Brush Selection, Tool Options, and the
Layers, Channels & Paths windows. An in- depth look into
these windows will make you realize that GIMP is a
Photoshop clone in bits and pieces. Well it ought to be,
that's the main idea for easier migration.
As there is no image editing software
complete without third party plug-ins, GIMP too comes with
its fair share, such as GAP (GIMP Animation Package), GIMP
Freetype for 2.0, GIMP Perl for 2.0 and a host of others.
You can download additional brushes, patterns, gradients
and other stuff from the resources sections contributed by
the open source community.
The good thing with all open source
software is that they have a thriving community of users
who are more than willing to help you out. You can join
the GIMP user community to submit queries and read
tutorials posted there. Or check out the comprehensive
Is GIMP the Photoshop killer? No, it
isn't. Photoshop still remains the expert's favorite and
has a slight edge since it offers comparatively advanced
editing options than GIMP. For most business and home
users, there is no reason why one should shy away from
this free application. After all, not everyone can afford
the US$650 tag which comes with Photoshop CS (8.0).