IS GIMP WORTH IT?
Or am I wasting time learning it?
What Gimp's about
Let's face it, the average picture you've seen on the internet
probably had some (or all) work done in Photoshop. Even the
words 'image-editing' has, for the most part, been replaced by
'Photoshopping' or 'Photoshopped'. And besides Photoshop
there are a lot of big name programs in the world of graphics.
So that's gotta bring you to the question:
Is Gimp one of them? Is Gimp capable?
If you're an experienced user then you probably already know that it is, but for the newcomer... is it good enough?
Obviously the very first thing you need to know is what it is that you're looking for in a graphics program. At the most basic level a graphics program should be used to create graphics. Duh. But what makes one program stand out from another is how EASY it is to create those graphics. A lot of reasons why commercial software is so widespread compared to free programs is that there's a large budget involved and so enough for hiring the needed folks and marketing the software everywhere they can. But of course with that comes the mighty cost to purchase the program.
Commercial programs like Photoshop, Corel Draw, Paint tool Sai etc. are solid stuff because of the money involved to support the team that works on it. Gimp, however, being free means development when someone gets sponsored or someone finds the time. That could make you want to steer clear but there remains yet hope. Open source programs, such as Gimp, are very open to the community that uses the program. So you see a really cool feature that could be added to Gimp, you pitch it to the programmers and what do you know it's in Gimp! A community that joins either to sponsor/program creates the drive to make Gimp the success that it is. That said, Gimp has enough features to be considered as an artist/photographer's tool.
Gimp, with the great team behind it, is currently very good at doing what it's meant to- creating and editing graphics. You are at this page, considering using Gimp for either 2 reasons: You're cheap (don't worry no one's judging you :) ) or you're interested to learn the workflow of Gimp. Either way that zero price tag is a plus. More than that, Gimp itself is a plus. Allow me to tell you what makes Gimp worth using:
Gimp at the core works very much like the average graphics program. You have the various tools, the canvas area, layers and much of the other expected tabs, that already makes Gimp an attraction. But the finer things separates them. From personal experience I can say that Gimp helps to achieve things very quickly, it's not faster in every way but in some ways it is. I would tell you to check out the tutorials as proof but you came here so I'll list some highlights.
Note that the features that I'm going to point out is possibly available in other programs so you should know that I'm not pointing out things that are unique to Gimp but rather how Gimp allows you to do things quickly. Here we go:
The interface, though appearing very similar to the average, has it's differences. Gimp features a single window mode but also allows windows to be split up into floating panels. The side panels (known as docks) are easily hideable with one keypress to give you more screen space and focus on your image. The top menu is accessible in various places so you don't have to always have it visible. There's support for tablet PCs, that popular pinch zoom gesture is possible. It's got the nifty ability to understand maths in the field entries (e.g. writing 1920*2 in an input instead of multiplying it in your mind). And a great welcome, it's light on system resources and not too big on hard drive space.