Free Tools for Mac Users Getting Started with GIMP

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 13, 2012

If you're a Mac user who works with graphics, you may very well already use GIMP, one of the very best open source graphics applications. However, there are a lot of people on Macs who might not have ever installed GIMP for the simple reason that the application didn't come with a standard DMG installer, and required you to install X11. That changed just a few days ago, when GIMP became a native application for Mac OS X.

If you're a Mac user who hasn't dabbled in GIMP, we've compiled a lot of good resources for getting going with it, and there is also a brand new magazine dedicated to it. Here are lots of good resources to dig into.

As Susan covered recently, there is a new magazine for GIMP users called--appropriately enough--GIMP Magazine. You can download the first issue here. The magazine's site also links to lots of forum sites where you can chat with GIMP users, and other resources.

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. (For many more free books on open source software titles, check this post.)

Deviantart has an excellent beginner's tutorial on GIMP that walks you through shadowing, coloring, lighting, and using the brush and pencil tools. You can get through it in a few minutes and create your first impressive looking GIMP graphic.

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 Many of the tutorials there are complemented by useful comments and tips from readers.

Scott Photographics has an excellent exploration of how to create see-through text effects posted, and you can learn to do so with GIMP in about five minutes.  While you're at it, Scott Photographics also has a great collection of more than 60 GIMP tutorials--enough to give you good practice sessions for a year.

Of course, don't forget about the official GIMP documentation. There's plenty of it, and you'll find it available in many languages. And, YouTube offers many video tutorials on the latest version of GIMP.