GIMP Guides: How to Get the Most Out of a Great, Free Graphics Application

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 28, 2013

If you find yourself spending more time on graphics these days, you're not alone. We're all taking more pictures, creating graphics for visual appeal in online properties and more. For real graphics muscle, it's essential to get familiar with GIMP, one of the very best open source graphics applications. OStatic has covered GIMP on a number of occasions, and the active community that drives the application forward continues to deliver improved versions. In this post, you'll find our latest, updated collection of free resources for getting started with GIMP and becoming an advanced user.

What if you haven't used GIMP at all?  There are lots of good guides to GIMP online that will still get you going from being a beginner to an intermediate/advanced user. Here are several good one to start with:

It's a very good idea to start with an introduction to exactly what GIMP is, which is covered in the following Introduction to GIMP (PDF).

Once you understand the application and have downloaded it, DocStoc's Thirty Second Guide to GIMP can get you going quickly and you can also make good use of the Official GIMP Quick Reference Sheet (PDF).

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. Many of the tutorials will give you what you need to perform advanced tasks. (For many more free books on open source software titles, check this post.)

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. This set of tutorials is also very rich and varied.

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

 Finally, be aware that GIMP is just one of the many open source programs out there for graphics, and you can use a number of the others with GIMP to give you maximum flexibility. Take a look at our latest overall graphics resources collection for help in this area.