Freeware Friday: The Gimp

Regular Feature: Freeware Friday

There is nothing gimpy about this week’s robust Freeware Friday offering, GNU Image Manipulation Program, other than its nickname: The Gimp. See for yourself why this free image editor and paint program has so many fans!

For Unix, Linux, Mac OS X, Windows

This week’s Freeware Friday offering is free and has always been; it has long been an Open Source staple for users of Linux and Unix, and now Mac OS X and Windows users can benefit from it as well. Technically speaking, The Gimp is not freeware: it is a Free Software application covered by the General Public License (GPL license). The GPL provides users with the freedom to access and alter the source code that makes up computer programs.

Some of the features of The Gimp include full alpha channel support, layers, channels, a full suite of painting and drawing tools, photo editing tools such as Levels and Curves, Undo and Redo capability limited only by disk space, and advanced scripting capabilities.

curves in The GimpCurves in The Gimp

Special effects like vignettes are easy in The Gimp, too. Just make a selection, feather, (Select > Feather) and invert it (Select > Inverse) then clear the edges (Edit > Clear).

photovignettePhoto vignette

Filters let you add an artistic look to images. Shown is the Oilify effect from the Filters > Artistic menu with the Apply Canvas filter from the same menu added. And there’s lots more to choose from.

Oilify with Canvas in The GimpOilify and Canvas effects

The Gimp even creates fractals using Fractal Explorer (Filters > Render > Fractal Explorer).

Fractal Explorer in The GimpFractal Explorer in The Gimp

Installing the Gimp is well documented on the download page; follow the instructions carefully and make sure to install any extra files needed before installing The Gimp. The first time you start The Gimp it will set up some options and directories.

The Gimp has its own native file format .XCF which saves layers much like Photoshop’s PSD format. To save an image to work on later in The Gimp, use the .XCF format.

If you are the programming type, download the Source and program away. If your talents lie more toward the artistic, download the version for your operating system and let your imagination take flight.

Gimp Main page
Download for Unix/Linux
Download for Mac OS X
Download for Windows
Not sure where to start using The Gimp? The manual is online here.