GIMP, which is currently in its seventh year of being developed, at last looks to be moving on to bigger things. GNU Image Manipulation Program or as its more commonly known GIMP is a free of charge, open source image editor and creator. For years GIMP has been criticised for being too out of the ordinary, too odd, very different from Photoshop. But GIMP has at last made its way in to popular territory. It may still be very different to Photoshop, but Photoshop has been around for about 20 years! So being different to Photoshop is not really a negative thing, it's a breath of fresh air.
GIMP, like most detailed image editor and creators takes a little bit of time to get used to. But if you are after fantastic looking images this will be time well spent. I was a little bit confused when I first opened GIMP 2.6.11. For someone who is an avid photoshop user, it is very similar to being in foreign territory for the first time: While some elements seem familiar, others do not. On the bright side, GIMP's tool box includes tips when you put your arrow over a tool; and the options for that tool appear in the lower half of the tool box after you have made your selection. Also, the tutorials that can be watched on GIMP's website are pretty informative and very helpful.
If you want to carry out basic image manipulation, GIMP makes it easy for you to alter brightness, contrast, colors, crop, etc. GIMP includes a wide selection of built-in filters and effects, like blur, distort, colorize, and transform. GIMP does not have any shortcuts such as red eye remover or Cut Out Studio (Photo Plus X5) in the way that Xara Photo and Graphic Designer and Serif PhotoPlus X5 has. This is unfortunate because it would really have utilised these tools very well.
When you start grasping the layers system in GIMP, creating original artwork is all dependent on the level of your skill. GIMP's painting and fine art filters create moderately pleasant results, but if creating fine art from photographs is what you are after, you should try coupling GIMP with FotoSketcher, a basic image editor that is successful in this area.
GIMP is simply just a picture raster program, but there are also a wide selection of drawing and painting tools that are included. For GIMP, you don't have to search the Web for the plugins that you need, which is the case for Paint.NET which is another free and open-source image editing and painting program. For GIMP, most plugins will already have been put in.
There are only minor things that you may dislike about GIMP: When you minimize the program, for instance, the floating tool boxes continue to float in the middle of your monitor. You can open as many images as you want, but it is impossible to easily locate or keep track of them.
Little details about GIMP show that it is not being created by someone who cares about what's 'in', but rather by a group of people who are determined to make GIMP better than the trends. GIMP's image open dialog box is a great example of this: the navigation is very smooth, and it's really easy to see where you are and where you need to be. For example for the Windows user who is not pleased with the Microsoft trend to make everything as flashy,jam-packed and confusing, GIMP is a very refreshing change.
For someone who has never used PhotoShop, GIMP is a great program for image editing and manipulation. If you are an expert in the field of Photoshop and are no longer impressed with Adobe and its habit of making you much poorer regularly, GIMP is a great second option. But it has its own conditions: Start to learn from scratch everything there is to know about image editing. You will be saving heaps of money with GIMP.