GIMP Review

Screenshot of GIMP in Windows 7

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free photo editor that includes tons of advanced tools, works with various operating systems, and is easy to adapt to.

A flexible interface lets you arrange window panes however you like to create a customized workspace, which can certainly make using GIMP a bit less complex.

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Pros

  • Completely free to download and use
  • Advanced editing features
  • Supports various input tablets and devices
  • Can install add-ons to extend functionality
  • Works with popular file formats
  • Portable download option

Cons

  • Large download size (~90 MB)

More About GIMP

  • GIMP works with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems
  • All the regular image file formats can be opened and saved to with GIMP like PNG, JPG, and GIF, but also others like ICO, SVG, PDF, PSD
  • You can open an image from a webpage, a scanner, the clipboard, or a webcam. You can also take a screenshot of the whole screen or a select window and then automatically import it into GIMP
  • Multiple images can be opened either in separate windows or in different layers. Layers let you manipulate overlapped objects and images
  • GIMP can be used as a GIF maker by importing several images at once and then exporting them as an animated file 
  • A history of past images are kept so you can easily open previously edited photos
  • Any available window can be detached from the main program and moved freely around the screen to create a customized interface
  • All the tools are easily accessible from the Toolbox pane at any time so you're not searching through menus just to find the tool you need
  • GIMP includes tools that make it easy to select objects out of a picture as well as remove portions of an image, such as the Fuzzy Select ToolSelect by Color ToolForeground Select Tool, and Color Picker Tool
  • Rotate, scale, perspective, flip, and transform tools are available to manipulate photos
  • Smudge, dodge, and blur are a few other tools available
  • You can draw directly onto images with a pencil, airbrush, or ink tool
  • The Colors menu provides several options for manipulating a photo's color, such as color balance, hue and saturation adjustments, brightness and contrast settings, threshold, curves, and more
  • Tons of filters can be applied to an image, such as artistic, decor, generic, light, shadow, distort, blur, and enhance filters, and each have their own settings that can be customized
  • A measuring tool lets you see how many pixels, inches, centimeters, or points an object traverses in an image
  • Advanced features like cloning a portion of an image is allowed as well as a healing brush tool for proximity-based blending
  • Advanced brush modes can be chosen instead of a normal brush stroke, such as darken only, saturation, color erase, soft light, overlay, and many more

My Thoughts on GIMP

GIMP is the best free photo editor because of the sheer volume of features it supports. It may not include the exact same features as other popular software like Adobe Photoshop, but its free price tag and large number of tools certainly makes it comparable.

Probably one of my favorite features is simply how customizable the interface is. From Windows > Dockable Dialogs, you can open any of the panels and move them anywhere on your screen you like, even if you have multiple monitors. This means the Undo History and Gradients pane, for example, can be opened and adjusted to any part of the screen to make it easier to use those features.

Overall, because GIMP isn't too difficult to use, and because there are many useful tools, it serves well for advanced and novice users alike.

Note: The portable version of GIMP isn't found in the download link here, but instead is located at PortableApps.com. After extracting the files, it will take up around 100 MB of disk space.

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