Every web designer needs great graphics tools, and GIMP is one of the best free image editors around. It has impressive photo retouching features, lots of useful special effects, a range of powerful paint tools and more. Strong color management ensures your images always look at their best. Layer support helps you control which parts of your images are tweaked, and which remain untouched. And it’s then easy to save your images for the web.
The interface isn’t always the best, and with so many options GIMP can seem intimidating at first. Once you’ve learned the basics, though, you’ll find there’s very little the program can’t do.
GIMP is an acronym which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, a title that highlights the program’s origins as a Linux image editor. GIMP is much more than a simple image editor. GIMP is a complex beast, a well-tooled, free alternative to the power of Photoshop that comes with various professional features for pictures and photos.
The selection and montage techniques are particularly solid and it offers plenty of selection tools. The retouching and contrast correction fulfill most user demands too. In just a few steps you can crop images, edit cuttings, colorize images, reduce CCD noise and decrease problem contrast.
While it certainly has the basic image editing features you’d expect, GIMP also caters for expert-level users. A quick look at the GIMP’s tutorials page gives you a glimpse of what the software is capable of – layer masks, Bezier curves and gradients, adding film grain or watercolor effects to images, making custom brushes, and using GAP (the GIMP Animation Package).
For many years GIMP had a reputation for being difficult to use. It has previously been an irritation for Windows users in that it completely ignored various Windows UI conventions. But that’s all over. Since version 2.8, the software runs completely in one window and it’s fully Windows 8 compatible. The installer you can download here features both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of GIMP and is clever enough to install the appropriate one automatically.
Despite a steep learning curve, the installation is definitely worth it. The user interface of a modified version of GIMP (called Gimpshop) mimics the look and feel of Adobe Photoshop and makes it much easier to use.