GIMP 2.0.2 - The Open Source Photoshop

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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 begin.

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 GIMP manual.

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).

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