No, I’m not talking about picking on some poor disabled person. GIMP is the common acronym for the GNU Image Manipulation Program – a very capable and completely free – yes FREE – image (think photo, but so much more) editing program. Now, I’m very aware that there are a number of good photo editing programs that you can buy, and some, i.e. Adobe’s Photoshop, are extremely powerful – and expensive. And for everyday photo editing, logo and icon creation, even occasional artistic endeavors, are simply not worth the hundreds or even thousands of dollars they cost now days – let alone the upgrade fees every time they add new features or improvements. Oh yeah, and if you work on more than one computer, or install it on your kids’, spouse’s, or parents’ computers, guess what – yes, you have to buy separate copies for each person / computer you want to install it on.
At the other end of the spectrum are the ‘free’ programs for windoze (ok, get it out now, I am NOT, by any definition, a Microsoft fan) which are often loaded with spyware and / or viruses. Or, like Google’s Picasa, which isn’t terrible by any means, may just not do everything you want it too. One more point on some of these ‘simplified’ photo management applications, is that you often don’t know what they do with your original photos. It is extremely important, that when editing your photos, you never save your changes over your original picture. More on that later.
To the point now, the GIMP is definitely a bit more complex to use than your basic window paint program. There is a learning curve, but also an enormous amount of online resources to help you along the way, and, if you’ve ever used a program like Photoshop and have a basic concept of layers, masking, even color concepts in general, you’ll be that much further ahead. So, if you’re ready to expand your horizons, the first step is to download the GIMP. For those fortunate souls that use Linux (more on that later as well), if it’s not already installed, you will probably just need to go to your package manager, search for GIMP, and install. For Windows users, you will need to go to the following link http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/stable.html (this opens in a new window/tab, so watch for blocked popup messages), and download the latest version – generally the one near the top of the page under ‘Base Packages’. Your browser should prompt you to save the file, may give you some warnings and whatnot first, just say yes 🙂
Once the download completes, locate the file where you save it, and double-click it to start the installation. Unfortunately, I don’t have a functional Windows machine handy (imagine that) to review the specifics of the install process, but you should be fine just accepting the default options.
One other note for Windows users – if you’ve purchased a new computer in the last year or so, there’s a good chance that it has Windows 7 installed, and of course, there are enough variations with this latest abomination from Microsoft to screw anything up. Besides the basic, professional, and ultimate versions (home and business too?) the critical ones are 32 bit vs 64 bit and XP mode. I don’t do Windows 7, but am aware of some issues with the 64 bit version running older programs, and did notice at the bottom of the GIMP download page, that there is an ‘experimental installer’ available that includes a 64 bit version that may work better on Windows 7 – 64 bit. Maybe I’ll try that on my wife’s computer and see how it goes.
But seriously – get Linux.