Friday, February 26, 2010

Free Stuff Part 2

In the spirit of sharing good free programs, today I would like to talk about a great application that I have used for years.  The program is called GIMP.  GIMP stands for GNU (meaning free software) Image Manipulation Program.  It is a big fancy name, but when you get down to it, GIMP is a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop.  Or if you prefer, a much fancier version of Microsoft Paint.

What is it good for?  both Photoshop and Gimp are good for three main categories; image editing, image combination and creating original art.  This means you can do everything from clean up a photo, cut people and items out of photos, combine multiple photos or "paint" a picture.  Your success at using either program will greatly depend on your artistic talents.  Which means that I can use it to draw a pretty solid tic tack toe board and not much else.  I know the ins and outs of the program quite well, but I am no artist.

Considering Photoshop can set you back $200 to $700 for a copy, Gimp is well worth the 100% price reduction.  I have taken classes on Photoshop and I find GIMP to be a very strong alternative, missing almost no feature that I learned about in my studies.  Even many of the lessons and books that I have for Photoshop have assisted in learning how to do things in GIMP due to both programs being so similar.

The bad news is it is so close to Photoshop that you might have a hard time jumping in and using the program.  The complexity and capabilities of GIMP is staggering.  On the bright side, that they do offer some tutorials for you to try here:  The tutorials are actually pretty fun and you do feel like you are accomplishing something as you work your way through them.  Start with the beginner tutorials to learn most of what you will ever need to do to edit your digital photographs.  The intermediate and advanced tutorials go into the realm of manipulating your pictures and creating original works of art.

To download GIMP, head over to and follow the link under GIMP for Windows.  Download, install and enjoy.  Just a warning, it is normal for the program to take some time to start up when you first open due to it being such a complex program.

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