A Guide to GIMP Photo Editing Software: Can This Free GNU Image Manipulation Program Deliver Good Results?

Commercial photo and image editing programs don’t always come cheap. Although there are many different freeware alternatives that can be used to replicate some of the features of commercial packages, many users find that they just don’t have the same clout as the big names.

GIMP’s photo editing free software package, however, is often favorably compared to Photoshop in terms of its functionality and features.

What is GIMP?

GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) was first conceived in 1995 and has seen various version releases over the years. The software is designed to allow users to edit, compose, manipulate and retouch photos and images.

As part of the GNU free software program, GIMP is free to download and to use. Users can simply use the base program if they wish or they can extend its functionality to suit specific needs via a wide range of free plug-ins.

What Does GIMP do?

The software can do just about anything in photo and image editing terms. This may, of course, depend on the plug-ins that are downloaded and used on projects. Some users will use it for simple tasks such as retouching occasional photos. Others may use it for more complex projects such as animation production and video editing. Some of the more popular features of the program include:

  • Drawing/paint tools
  • Video editing capabilities
  • Animation tools
  • Photo retouching/enhancement
  • Image/photo editing and manipulation
  • File format conversions

The software works via a series of different tabs or windows that can be hidden or shown as the user wishes. This can be especially useful when working on more complex projects. Initially available for Unix users, GIMP can now be downloaded on to various platforms, including:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Sun OpenSolaris
  • FreeBSD

It can, of course, still be run on GNU/Linux operating systems as well.

The Advantages of Using GIMP

One of the main advantages of using GIMP is that it can be as simple or as complex as its user wishes. The program is easy to learn how to use yet offers the kinds of features and functions that tend to be otherwise reserved for commercial products. Unlike many another freeware photo/image editing packages this solution probably comes closest in terms of matching overall functionality to the commercial market leaders.

Cost is also a primary factor for many users trying out this kind of package for the first time. The fact that GIMP allows a user to access advanced kinds of photo/image creation, editing and manipulation tools completely free of charge may make it worth a look. Given the high costs of commercial software packages in this sector, many will try out GIMP as an alternative first so this may be worth doing.

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