Powerful photo editing programs are hard to come by. While there are a lot of middle of the road, basic editing and design programs available for free, not many can compete with the power of programs like Adobe’s Photoshop. The exception to this rule is GIMP. The GNU Image Manipulation Project (GIMP) has become one of the most popular free pieces of software in existence, because for no cost at all, you can have picture editing and manipulation software almost as powerful as many more expensive programs out there. The only catch is a very steep learning curve.
What GIMP Does Well:
Whether you’re editing images or creating logos and other designs, GIMP has a tool for everything. If you know your way around the program, you can use GIMP to clone, dodge, burn, and add effects with the best of them. The program is aimed towards serious editors and designers, and with them in mind the GIMP team has loaded down the software with every conceivable tool, effect, and filter you might need or find elsewhere.
GIMP also moves well for how much weight it carries around. When editing massive images, the program isn’t as sluggish as you might expect; and when you’re all done, the finished product can look just as professional as it would have had you used many hundreds of dollars worth of software. It goes without saying that the price tag is a pro, but in GIMP’s case this is even more obvious, as the alternatives cost hundreds of dollars and do much the same thing.
Tips for New Users:
Because of the complexity of the program, new users should definitely check out a few of the many tutorials online before taking on GIMP’s learning curve. With these types of programs, the capabilities of the software usually far exceed the needs of the user. If you don’t think GIMP can do something, you probably just don’t know how to make it happen.
Also, as a new user, try to add effects as separate layers. If you can avoid editing the actual background image, you can avoid having to back-pedal and try and undo things that may not be undo-able. Whenever possible, add effects as layers upon the un-touched background image and save yourself some headaches later on.
Where GIMP Needs to Improve:
With so many pros, there must be a catch, and that catch comes in the form of complexity. It’s to be expected, but when you’re first starting out with GIMP the amount of time spent finding out how to do things can get very frustrating. Unlike paid programs, the layout isn’t as self-explanatory, and as such an already confusing type of software becomes even harder to use. In the end the only solution to this problem – outside of the GIMP developers shifting their focus from power to ease-of-use – is spending the necessary amount of time learning the interface.
This complexity is a small price to pay, however, when you realize that GIMP can hold its own with the best programs on the market. If you put in the work, over time the program will become second nature to you, and you’ll find this open source Goliath meets every one of your image editing and creation needs. It is a professional grade piece of software for zero cents on the dollar, if nothing else that should be reason enough to click the download button right now.
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