6 Ways to Get Much More Out of GIMP

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 11, 2008

GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a long-standing and hugely respected open source graphics program, and many readers probably already use it. Originally created at U.C. Berkeley its interface and feature set run neck-and-neck with expensive proprietary alternatives such as Photoshop, and it has a thriving community of developers and plug-in creators. The GIMP site has many useful resources for the application, and there are also a lot of other places to visit for turning yourself into a power user of this excellent cross-platform application that always leaves new users bewildered that it is free. Here are six good choices.

Many GIMP users who use or have previously used Photoshop swear by GIMPshop, which is essentially a hack of GIMP that gives it an interface equivalent to Photoshop's, right down to individual menu choices and terminology used. In fact, it's so close in interface to Photoshop that, using it, you can follow the thousands of Photoshop tutorials available online in GIMP. Mac, Windows and Linux users can install GIMPshop.

There are many good books on GIMP, but you may very well find everything you need in the way of instruction in Grokking the GIMP. The book is available in a free HTML tarball in addition to a printed copy that you can buy. I highly recommend looking at the links in the contents. This free, online book takes you through layers, filters, resizing tips, masks, blending colors, case studies and way more than that. The screenshots and instructions are from an older version of GIMP, but many of the tutorials will still give you what you need to perform advanced tasks.

One of the best aspects of GIMP is that it has a thriving community of plug-in developers. There are plug-ins for granular tasks such as new ways to edit images, plug-ins for more flexible graphics printing options, and more. The registry of plug-ins is here.

Keyboard shortcuts always come in handy with graphics programs, and many Photoshop users employ them. In the link at the bottom of this page, you'll find useful shortcuts for GIMP.

On GIMP's own site, you'll find many tutorials.  With them, you can create floating logos, learn how to do red eye removal in photos, make vignettes out of photos, and more. There are lots more community-driven and video tutorials at Gimp-Tutorials.net. Many of the tutorials there are complemented by useful comments and tips from readers.

Of course, don't forget about GIMP documentation. There's plenty of it, and you'll find it available in many languages.