GIMP: the free and open source software option for photo editing


Since it was first cultivated by special effects engineers from visual house Industrial Light & Magic to produce a range of practical effects for the original star wars movies in the 20se century, photo editing software Photoshop continued to be a significant presence in the 21st century.

From pioneering revolutionary image enhancement techniques to creating a host of toolkits and editing methods, Adobe’s Photoshop (PS) has become synonymous with the premier photo editing software for enhancing commercial and even personal images. It works just as well on bespoke birthday card images as it does on professional layouts such as advertising posters and restaurant menus.

With Illustrator, the creator of Photoshop, Adobe, has created a complete suite of photo, video and creative tools, from preparing materials for editing to post-production editing. But while Photoshop is ubiquitous as the leading photo and image editing software for designers and professional studios, its success also comes with drawbacks that might not make it the most accessible tool on the market, especially for novices, amateur content creators or those on limited budgets.

Although there are plenty of alternatives when it comes to photo editing software – ranging from browser-based tools to software that comes pre-installed on mobile phones – one of the most notable programs that stands out as a real challenger for PS is GIMP, the GNU Image manipulation program.

Plugins can be downloaded to flesh out the functionality of GIMP to make it look more like Photoshop. Source: TechHQ

GIMP has been called Photoshop-killer for many reasons, but one of the main ones is that open source software is essentially free to distribute and use. Until very recently, when Adobe Creative Cloud allowed Adobe software subscriptions for as little as $10 per month, Photoshop had a reputation for being extortionate.

With one-time fees approaching $700, Adobe was very aware that it had the flagship photo-editing software on the market – and charged accordingly. The first benefit of using GIMP is that it can be tested with no upfront commitment, and unlike Photoshop, downloading and running GIMP consumes very little PC processing power. This makes it fit to run on the latest generation or even genuinely old Material.

Photoshop is one of the heaviest and most demanding image-editing tools, with designers often decrying its high system requirements, not just to run the software, but to render and store the processed images. It might be less bulky on a desktop iMac, with company-paid storage and RAM, but it can still be extremely cost-prohibitive for the small design studio or keen hobbyist.

While Photoshop can typically want up to 4GB of disk space, GIMP only takes up 20MB. Not only is GIMP much smaller to store and run, it’s also much faster to install and set up. This writer was able to get the GIMP .exe file and download it locally, and complete the setup – all in 15 minutes. There are versions for Mac, Windows, and Linux, and the source code is available to compile from scratch, if that suits you.

TechHQ reviews photo editing software considered a "killer photoshop"but is also free and... open source?

Most of the same basic functions as Photoshop are available, except for the low price and absolutely free. Source: TechHQ

Once fully installed, it is highly customizable on many levels, including the user interface. It may be something that was inspired by Photoshop, but Photoshop has to cover a wide range of design disciplines, and therefore contains several hundred features accumulated over the years. For relative beginners, there are, for example, lighting effects that may not be very useful – but it’s good to know that they are there.

GIMP eliminates a lot of feature clutter, with tools you probably won’t use being easily removed or minimized from the main UI. The customization of its functionality goes beyond managing the interface and, thanks to its open source code, there is a thriving catalog of independent plugins or extensions that can be downloaded and added to the main application. .

For example, there is a “Heal Selection” featurette that can be downloaded, to perform the same function as “Smart Remove” which is built into Photoshop. So even though Photoshop is equipped with all the features from bow to stern, a lot may be surplus to the usual requirements – but if you ever need a super specific Photoshop capability, you can bet that the open source community has created something similar, or perhaps even better, for GIMP.

For an untrained and unpracticed Luddite like me, messing around with Photoshop can be quite daunting. Not only are there dozens and dozens of features and adjustments that can be made to an image, even performing the same repeat functions can be difficult if one has not memorized the order in which run them. It can almost sound like trying to play particularly complex transcriptions of hard-bop jazz scores.

TechHQ reviews photo editing software considered a "killer photoshop"but is also free and... open source?

Despite being so much lighter to install and run than Photoshop (no pun intended), many color palettes, masks, and layers can often be indistinguishable between GIMP and Adobe’s premier software. Source: TechHQ

Much of the usability is encapsulated in GIMP, made more user-friendly (read, idiot-friendly), and much easier for photo-editing software to pick up – indeed, it’s much easier for no one. anyone, even someone who has only a passing familiarity with the disciplines and terminology of photography.

For example, performing repeated actions (or “batch processing”) on a large collection of photos is easily accomplished on GIMP. This could be an important business function, as repeat processing with the same hues or themes that match a company’s branding or campaign focus could be what is needed; and no doubt requested on a tight deadline.

But inexplicably, batch processing in Photoshop is a cumbersome and tedious process, requiring everything to be set up with pre-programmed actions. And for the uninitiated, this can take a long time, plus there’s the inevitable wait for everything to be processed. This is often followed by finding out later that the group edits didn’t take a bunch of frames. Problems like these are, admittedly, pilot error, but in business environments where time is short, the ability to make quick changes can be quite important. Customers don’t like delays at all.

But while both photo editing software suites have excellent feature support, it has to be said that some of the more powerful shared tools work better in Photoshop. Features like pixel manipulation are much more powerful and granular on Photoshop, no doubt due to the more powerful processing the program relies on from the more modern hardware stipulated in its technical sheet.

Another disadvantage of GIMP is that it lacks diversity when it comes to color modes and file formats. As with printing the final artworks, the use of the CMYK color mode is necessary – GIMP only processes using the Red Green Blue (RGB) mode by default; print designers will need an additional plug-in to print images with accurate colors.

TechHQ reviews photo editing software considered a "killer photoshop"but is also free and... open source?

GIMP only processes using Red Green Blue (RGB) mode, another plugin would be needed to print using Cyan Magenta Yellow Key (CMYK), the preferred print color mode. Source: TechHQ

And with Photoshop, all changes are saved in a separate exported file, preserving the original. For the uninitiated like me new to GIMP, unintentionally hitting “save” would actually overwrite the original file, meaning I would now have an edit without the base file. Export changes to a separate file box be done, but it is not easy.

But of course, there’s a much larger team constantly working on Photoshop, enhancing its capabilities as one of the most dominant photo-editing software of all time. With Adobe Creative Cloud, new updates are sent automatically to subscribers and can be downloaded seamlessly.

In contrast, the GIMP team of independent developers in the open source community works hard, but their results are nowhere near as extensive or well provisioned as those of the Adobe team. Still, considering the different capabilities, it’s amazing that the GIMP team still manages to roll out new updates every few months, just like Adobe. That said, GIMP should soon be the subject of a big update, to version 3.0. Pay attention to this.

So, once the dust has settled, is GIMP a real alternative to Photoshop? GIMP is extremely worthy, especially for beginners or those with just basic professional-grade editing needs, and with a range of aesthetic features including filters, opacity, transformations, saturation, and brightness contrasts. . Its filters and some modes aren’t as polished as Photoshop’s, but it’s still a very handy and sophisticated palette to work with. Approaching the polish and sophistication of Photoshop in some ways, GIMP is certainly worth much, much more than its asking price – which is, theoretically, nothing at all. Of course, if you use GIMP and find it useful, send a few dollars to the maintainers of the project will help ensure further development.

Joe Devanesan


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