Why I Love the G.I.M.P.

Sep 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Recommendations

I use the GIMP for almost everything.  Before you Photoshop purists go and scream at me, pointing out the reasons I’m an idiot, just hear me out.  I know that GIMP doesn’t do CMYK (at least, it doesn’t do it well), and that the user interface isn’t the way you like it, but I use it just the same.  There are the people who will be angry that I didn’t include their pet image editor in this article (Paint Shop Pro and the like), but really, in my world there are only the two.

Let’s face it.  If you aren’t a designer who does print and screen work, investing in Adobe Creative Suite version whatever isn’t on your short list.  The majority of people in the world who have a legit copy of Photoshop probably couldn’t tell you what half the functions are.  For that matter, don’t even bother asking them what a plugin is.  That leaves a minority who do know all about the Photoshop experience, and they tend to be professionals (or people who stole it).

The GIMP (Image curtesy of Wikipedia)

The GIMP (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The GIMP has several things going for it.  First, there’s the price.  I don’t care who you are, but coming up with a better price than free is a tough sell (except that you intend to pay me to use your software).  Second, I’m a big fan of multiple monitors so the GIMP model of not having a stage surrounded by tools is great.  I use four monitors in sort of a cockpit (or command center, as my friend Mike says) configuration.  I put the tools box on one side of the image, the layers / paths box on the other and then I have this huge image area to work with.  With Photoshop, I’d have to stretch the stage across several monitors, and that’s just hard to manage.

Another thing I like about it is the unbelievable number of built in functions.  It must have been a year before I even figured out what most of them were for, and why I needed them.  Many of them you’d have to pay for if you wanted the same thing in PS.  In fact, pretty much every PS plugin I use, I’ve already installed in the GIMP.  That’s right, with a little tweaking, it can run PS plugins.

Then there’s the simple scripting language that allows me to take a long process that I do over and over and make it a button click.  Seriously, can life get better for the lazy?

I know there are thousands of tutorial sites on PS, but most of them want you to join and pay fees to see how to do things that you can go on YouTube to find out for free.  With the GIMP, I have yet to find a tutorial I had to pay to see.  By all means, correct me if I’m wrong.  You can go to Deviant Art and get more brushes and textures than you know what to do with (which is true of PS as well), and making your own is a snap.

So, why do I advocate the GIMP for everyday stuff like cropping and red eye removal?  I believe the idea of great software that is both professional grade and open source is one that should be supported.  My clients always ask me what they should use to make cool pictures for their websites, and if they should buy Photoshop.  I like to let them play with it first.  They get overwhelmed in short order.  They have the same reaction to the GIMP (why is the concept of layers so daunting?), but when I tell them it’s free the choice is made.

That being said, I have and use Photoshop.  I must.  Until a printer can take an RGB GIMP file and make a card or brochure out of it that doesn’t look like it came from an RGB file, or the good folks who write the GIMP come up with a workable CMYK option, I’ll just wait.  It isn’t all that hard maintaining two environments, and I don’t even know if the GIMP folks have any intentions of making the fix.  I’ll keep GIMPing and evangelizing it at the same time.  Maybe then Adobe will reduce the cost of PS to a level that will allow those who don’t earn money with it to use it without piracy.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Be Sociable, Share!
Tags: , , ,

Leave Comment