Operating systems

Introduction to GIMP image editing tool with simple demos

Ryan Boudreaux offers an overview of the GIMP image editing features and uses some of them to demonstrate what you can do with this tool.

If you have been searching for a new image editing tool, then the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) might be the one you need for graphic and image editing from Gimp.org.  It's available for free for download distribution software that allows you to retouch photos, create image composition and image authoring.

Download and install GIMP

The current download as of this writing is GIMP 2.8.2 for Windows XP SP3 systems and higher, and for Unix-like systems, it is highly likely that they may already have a version available.  The current Win download pulls from SourceForge and weighs in at 76.9MB so be ready for a long duration if your Internet connection bandwidth is on the low end.  Norton Internet Security file insight for the download confirms tens of thousands of users have successfully obtained a copy; the current file is mature and has been available for about three months as of this writing. It's a stable program, showing average crashes only once in a three month period. If you are running Ubuntu and Debian flavors, from the command interface, simply run "apt-get install gimp" to get the latest stable release. The GIMP User Manual is available in twenty languages including English, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. FTP and Web Mirrors are also available from 75 individual sites in twenty two countries. GIMP help files are available at ftp://ftp.gimp.org/pub/gimp/help/.

Once the file is downloaded on the Win OS, just double-click the exe file (gimp-2.8.2-setup-1.exe), select your language, and then click to install. The default installation path on Win OS is C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\. Click "Finish" when complete.

Figure B

Next, find the shortcut and open the GIMP application and wait for it to load.

Figure C

The first time I ran GIMP it took about a minute or more to fully load the application and plug-ins;, once the initial "Startup" completed, I shut it down and then GIMP loaded much faster on successive attempts. By default, GIMP opens up in an undocked window mode as shown on my desktop in Figure D below.

Figure D

The undocked window mode can be modified by browsing to Windows from the main toolbar, and then clicking "Single-Window Mode", as displayed in Figure E, resulting in Figure F below.

Figure E

Figure F

GIMP features and functionality

Here are the basic features available:

Painting features include the tools for Brush, Pencil, Airbrush, and Clone. Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools for high quality anti-aliasing, extremely powerful gradient editor and blend tool, and it supports custom brushes and patterns. System features include tile-based memory management so image size is limited only by available disk space, and virtually an unlimited number of images open at one time. Advanced Manipulation includes full alpha channel support, layers and channels, multiple Undo/Redo (limited only by disk space), editable text layers, transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear and flip, selection tools including rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, free, fuzzy, foreground extraction tool, advanced path tool doing Bezier and polygonal selections, transformable paths,  transformable selections, and quick mask to paint a selection. Extensible features include a Procedural Database for calling internal GIMP functions from external programs as in Script-fu, advanced scripting capabilities (Scheme, Python, Perl), plug-ins which allow for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters, and many plug-ins already available. Animation features include load and save animations in a convenient frame-as-layer format, MNG support, Frame Navigator (in GAP, the GIMP Animation Package), Onion Skin (in GAP, the GIMP Animation Package), and Bluebox (in GAP, the GIMP Animation Package). File Handling including file formats bmp, gif, jpeg, mng, pcx, pdf, png, ps, psd, svg, tiff, tga, xpm, and many others, and the ability to load, display, convert, and save to many file formats including SVG path import/export. Customizable Interface allows you to customize the view and behavior to suit your requirements. Starting from the widget theme, allowing you to change colors, widget spacing and icon sizes to custom tool sets in the toolbox. The interface is displayed in modules into so called docks, allowing you to stack them into tabs or keep them open in their own window. Pressing the tab key will toggle them hidden. It also features a full screen mode allowing you to preview your artwork and also to edit the work while using the most of your screen real estate. Photo Enhancement features includes options for fixing perspective distortion caused by lens tilt, which can be corrected using the Barrel Distortion tool. The Channel Mixer allows you to modify the Perspective Transform, and Sample Colorize tools too.

Simple demonstrations

What I like about GIMP is the built in sources and presets that come with the base application, including the ability to create new graphics and images from sources such as From Clipboard, From Webpage, From Camera, Screen shot. The presets include the categories of Buttons, Logos, Patterns, and Web Page Themes, as shown in Figure G below.

Figure G

With a quick demonstration of the Create Buttons tool, I will guide you through the steps to setting up a Simple Beveled Button starting with making the selection as displayed in Figure H below.

Figure H

The default Simple Beveled Button has the following settings:

  • Text: Hello world!
  • Font size in pixels: 16
  • Upper-left color: 00ff7f
  • Lower-left color: 007fff
  • Text color: 000000
  • Padding: 2
  • Bevel width: 4
  • Pressed: un-checked

Figure I

Click Ok to accept the defaults or make your adjustments and then click OK.  The generated button is displayed in Figure J below. This could be a great tool for folks that still create buttons from images.

Figure J

Next, I will demonstrate creating a Logo using one of the styles available from the vast drop-down list which is displayed in Figure K below.

Figure K

In this demonstration, I decided to select the Chrome Logo, and keeping all the defaults as shown but changing the text to "Chrome Logo" then click OK as shown in Figure L with the result displayed in Figure M below.

Figure L

Figure M

Of course there are many more demonstrations that highlight GIMP, including image scaling, shearing, perspective tools, flip layers tool, cage transform, text tool, gradients tool, patterns dialog tool, brush selection dialog tool and more.

Do any of you already use GIMP for your image manipulation tool? If so what do you like about GIMP?

About

Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal g...

14 comments
Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

Hi Jennifer, if you want a comparison of tools to use "why not write about new emerging robust image editing tools that can be used on tablets", Why don't you write an article describing what you know about them, and ask for feedback. I'll bet that you get lots. MadsMad Dad

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

I'm not a professional photographer, nor do I do a lot of image editing. At $500 - $900 for Photoshop, the price is prohibitive for me. I'm kind of in the position of a person who drive four miles to the grocery store twice a week -- I really don't need a the power of a Maserati, and can't afford it anyway. GIMP's free, it works well, and it has more features than I'll ever use. My thanks to all those who are smart enough to create, and generous enough to publish freely, open source software like GIMP.

sh10453
sh10453

I have tried GIMP a number of times, starting many years back, in the 1990s. While it may be the best thing ever created next to sliced bread, I never liked the user interface. So I always uninstalled it just days after installation. I have found its interface to be frustrating. I have not bothered with it in the past five or more years, so I don't know how much the interface has changed, if any. I'll give it another try, though. Adobe photo editing programs would never be allowed to reside on any of my machines. I'm not a fan of Adobe or their over-priced products. My favorite graphics program since the days of DOS has been Paintshop Pro (PSP). I liked the program better before Corel acquired JASC, when it was a much smaller package. However, the latest editions, like X4 and X5 (I am on version 14, or X4 now) have some great features that I do like. PSP is inexpensive, by comparison. I only paid about $20 for my full copy (on clearance) when the new version came out, and the package included a free copy of WinZip Pro 15, to my pleasant surprise (although I'm a WinRAR fan). I am not associated with any company or entity that makes or sells such programs, so I think I can recommend PSP based on my own experience with it since 1989 or early 1990, and I have used each & every version of it, from the start to X4.

jenniferkennon
jenniferkennon

Gimp has been around for a while now. This is old news...why not write about new emerging robust image editing tools that can be used on tablets both android or ipad...I need some comparison please.

lindadarby
lindadarby

I have used Gimp for years, it was originally recommended to me by a designer and I have never looked back. Took me a while to understand it fully but once I got the hang of it it became very easy.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Photoshop and GIMP, now I know I've not used every esoteric option both have available, but for what the vast majority of people use the software for, I've found GIMP just as easy to use as Photoshop 5 was and easier than some of the later versions of Photoshop, and a damn sight cheaper.

dbielaski
dbielaski

I've been using GIMP for many years now, and once you get the hang of layer-based image editing, there really isn't much that you can't accomplish by using GIMP. As someone who also owns Adobe Photoshop, I never use it because I find GIMP's interface much more intuitive (and less bloated), and it offers the same functionality (that I need) offered by Photoshop. Plus, GIMP is open-source, and I am a big fan and advocate of any OSS offering. I'd also like to add an endorsement for the open-source program Inkscape, for anyone needing to do vector graphic editing (instead of raster graphics, which is what GIMP does). I use Inkscape instead of Adobe Illustrator for the same reasons mentioned above, and was able to create a 3' x 4' sign for our horse farm with the program, and had no problems in terms of compatibility with the sign company's software, printing hardware, etc.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

[b]NEVER EVER[/b] touch any Adobe Product they are rubbish and wreck your computer. I know people who say that and they prefer to use a different Image Editing Tool as well. Just because you personally like something and use it regularly only means that you are familiar with it not that itÂ’s better or worse than anything else. Col

Viktor_f
Viktor_f

IMHO - never try to work with the GIMP. I had the experience with it under Linux and Windows 7. Program is definitely terrible. All stuff that I may do in the Photoshop in a several seconds it takes to do sometimes up to half an hour.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

When (if) you try GIMP again, make sure to set it to "Single-Window Mode". The multi-window default works OK in Linux distros, because mouse pointer focus seems to work better in them, than it does in Windows.

Frank-JH
Frank-JH

I would also agree that Corel kind of screwed it up. It is still usable but not nearly as friendly and small as before Corel stepped in.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I use GIMP for my image manipulation. I have the Script-fu plugins and the GREYCstoration noise reduction plugin installed. I agree the GIMP GUI is better than the Photoshop GUI. I still can't figure out how to exactly place a crop in Photoshop (it's a doddle in GIMP). I think that many Photoshop tools are better than GIMP's though (e.g. brushes, clone tool).

Ndiaz.fuentes
Ndiaz.fuentes

Well played, indeed. Someone downvoted you because they have no sense of humor and did not see the point you were trying to make, so I voted you back up.

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