GIMP photo editor is one of the most popular editing software out there. While it may never succeed in surpassing the almighty Adobe Photoshop, it’s one of the best alternatives you can find. And we’ll go as far as saying that it could very well be a better solution than Photoshop for some users.

And you may wonder why. First, because not everyone can afford spending thousands of dollar to get a copy of a post-processing program. Secondly, because you may find you do not need all the complex functions that other software have to offer.

And let’s get to the best part – the GIMP photo editor is FREE. That’s right. You get to edit your photographs without spending a dime. As an aspiring, amateur photographer, it may very well be all you need. Even professional photographer may find in GIMP the ideal photo editor.

GIMP photo editor logo

What is GIMP Photo Editor?

GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The GNU consists of a group of programmers that were willing to create an editing software for everyone – a completely free, open-sourced OS. The developers are affiliated with the Free Software Foundation.

GIMP offers many of the tools and capabilities of Adobe Photoshop. You will find plenty of filters, effects, and tools that are quite similar to those in Photoshop. However, you won’t be charged one penny to use the features.

It is typically used for things such as:

  • Retouching photographs.
  • Advanced photo manipulation.
  • Resizing graphics.
  • Creating logos.
  • Creating photo collages.
  • Producing graphical design elements.
  • Scanning pictures.
  • Creating animated GIFs.
  • Exporting graphics to a Web format.

gimp editor on windows 10 image retouching mountainscape

Why is GIMP Software Better than Photoshop

  1. Gimp is FREE.
  2. GIMP is fast and stable. If you’re running an old computer, you will notice that Photoshop will sometimes slow down up to the point of freezing. This is because Photoshop takes a lot of hardware resources while GIMP takes less hard drive.
  3. Free updates. In addition to being free to download and to install, GIMP updates are also free. Photoshop users sadly have to pay for any new changes.
  4. It handles any file format. If you want to use GIMP AND Photoshop, then it’s totally fine because the free software does not discriminate. It can handle .PSD files and many other file formats.
  5. GIMP is portable. GIMP is about twenty times smaller than Adobe Photoshop. But that’s not all. The editing program can be loaded on a USB flash drive, allowing image editing anytime and anywhere.

GIMP Tools

The GIMP editor is filled with useful features. And if you played around in Photoshop, you’ll be familiar with many of the tools. Here are the software’s main features:

  • Painting tools: brush, airbrush, pencil, cloning tool, and more.
  • Selection tools: ellipse, rectangle, bezier, fuzzy, free, intelligent scissors.
  • Transformation tools: rotate, flip, scale, shear.
  • Layers.
  • Channels.
  • Advanced scripting.
  • Plugins.

 

GIMP Tips

Dive into the layers

Beginners may be scared of Layers, but will find they are one of the most useful features of the GIMP photo editor. This tool allows for non-destructive editing. Any move you make can be undone, and you can go back to the original picture anytime. Layers are transparent, and every edit you make on a specific layer will not tamper with the ones above or below the working layer.

Red eye removal

You can’t always take your DSLR out, and with a less performant camera, we are often left with the creepy “red eye” look. The good thing is, GIMP packs the red eye removal tool in the filter menu. Just select the area that needs editing, then go to Filters>Enhance, and select the tool.

Creating a watermark

Every photographer should protect their art and add a watermark to their pictures. Making one in GIMP is easy as pie. A watermark may either be a text or a logo. To create a text watermark, all you need to do is use the Text tool and draw a text bar in which you can type the text. Then tweak the Opacity slider until you get the ideal effect.

If you would rather use a logo, then open the logo and add it to the photograph as a layer. Resize and position it, then play with the Opacity slider once more to have it blend in nicely with the image.

Brushes

Just as Photoshop, GIMP photo editor comes with a bundle of brush presets. But some editing needs call out for more personalized brushes. This is why users have the option of creating their own custom brushes. The Brush sidebar features a selection of sliders that can be used to create a new brush.

Creating a GIF

GIFs are so in right now. And did you know you can create on in the GIMP editor? And it’s quite easy.

First, you need to gather all the images you wish to incorporate in the GIF file. Then, you must open the first image as a layer and continue to add the following pictures also as layers. Once you have all the images stacked up, go to Filter>Animation and choose Playback. And you’re done!

Plugins

GIMP plugin registry filter plugin

Plugins are extensions that add plenty of extra functionality to programs. Just as many others, GIMP also enjoys a wide range of extensions ranging from filters, animation tools, scripts, to a movie modifier. You can find the plugins on GIMP’s Plugin Registry web page.

Tutorials

The nice people at GIMP have thought of everything. Despite the fact that the GIMP photo editor is a free software, its functions are quite complex and may appear as overwhelming to beginners. This is why you can find tutorials that will boost your proficiency and skill level on the official GIMP website.

Saving files in GIMP editor

By default, the software will save all images as .XCF files, both on Windows and on Linux. But many would rather have the pictures saved in a .JPG or .PNG file format because it is ideal for the Web. So remember to go to the menu bar and choose File>Export as… and pick the desired format.

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