Gimp is an open source image editor for macs that is supposed to be a free alternative to photoshop from Adobe. A little aside so you can get an idea of where this review is coming from, I am using photoshop CS2 and CS5 at home, depending on whether working on my pc or mac and we have CS4 here WVP.
When I first heard about Gimp I was a little sceptical that an open source piece of software would be able to rival photoshop, plus all the extra bits and bobs you need to install, or ensure are already installed on your mac, was a bit daunting. But I gave it a go and then had problems with X-Quartz and X11 running on the mac I was using at the time. Here in the office though, IT support were able to confirm it was simple to install and not to worry. So after downloading Gimp and X-Quartz and installing I finally got to use Gimp many months after first hearing about it even though its been about for years (about a decade I think).
So I open it up, first off, it being run with X11 support et al, there was no usual menu bar at the top of the screen, but once you get past this you’re flying. There do seem to be layers available inside Gimp, contrary to what I had read online but I never go round to using them. Instead my first foray into the world of image editors outside of photoshop (which I have been using for years upon years now for basic design and editing of images and photos) looked mainly at using the fuzzy selection tool to remove the background from images leaving the subject on a white background, resizing and cropping and adjusting poorly taken photographs.
The auto-adjust tool inside the image options for the levels is great, better than photoshop in my opinion as it produced more realistic life like adjustments and then with a bit of fine tuning you can get great looking images and correct any mistakes you made with over or under exposure, white balance, etc, however with its clunky UI this took a little longer than it may have done in photoshop, but with better results I my opinion. As well as this the magnetic lasso tool is also different to photoshops. I am unsure if it is better, its different though and allows you to get a good clean line around your subject no matter how jagged the image i was trying to cut out was.
A mention must be made about the menu system and UI which is a little clunky as I mentioned above. Right click or command clicking brings up the menu, then you have to select etc, etc, as per normal in an image editor, but none of the windows are linked into the same interface. Each seems independent of the others requiring you to double click a lot of the time to make sure you have selected the right tool or what have you. Like I said, its very clunky in places and not the best user experience.
That little nit picking aside though Gimp, once you get into it is a great piece of software, I’m not sure of its full limitations or capabilities yet but I feel, as its free, easy to use; if a little clunky, and has some great tools photoshop is missing. Check it out if you’re not as daunted by open source software as I was.