Who doesn’t love Photoshop? It’s a candy store of brushes, textures, tools, and features. You get lightheaded when just thinking about the amazing changes you can make to your non-impressive photos from the zoo or beach. In fact, you get so lightheaded that you fall forward and crack your skull on your desk so that you don’t even notice how much the software costs. (If you are familiar with the costs of Adobe CC, then you may need a second concussion to truly not feel that financial pain.) Personally, I didn’t want the concussion or any other form of pain, so I sought out software that had the same qualities of Photoshop, but cheaper. Like, “free” sort of cheaper. GIMP answers that need. If I were a professional photographer or graphic designer, then I don’t think GIMP would be enough. When starting out with editing my first photos, I didn’t need a “candy store,” but rather the “candy aisle” of options to crop, remove backgrounds, and adjust lighting.
Disclaimer: I need to be honest at this point. I caved recently and purchased Photoshop Elements. I can’t even give you a good reason other than it was bundled with Premiere Elements, which is the software I really wanted. While I’m still learning Photoshop Elements (and there is a lot to learn), I don’t think I’ll go back to using GIMP unless I’m on my laptop, which doesn’t have Photoshop Elements installed on it. With this in mind, GIMP does have a newer version than what the screen captures show, but it’s essentially the same features a previous versions.
Goal: find free photo editing software that goes beyond just creative textures and cropping.
- Did I mention it’s FREE?
- It is fairly intuitive, especially since all the tools can be made visible on the tool bar so that you don’t have to go digging through menus or clicking other icons. (Some tools are buried, but the useful ones are visible.)
- You can export the file as JPG, PNG, or other common file types.
- No in-software guidance. (Yeah, this would be asking a lot of free software that has a variety of features.) You’re left on your own to figure out the tools and what they do to a graphic, though there are plenty of free tutorials, including ones on the GIMP site.
- It takes a few seconds to startup after you click the software icon. Not a big deal, just have to be patient.
- It doesn’t allow for editing RAW photo files. This is a big deal for avid photographers. You can convert the file, as described by Kat, in “RAW Photos with GIMP.”
Insider View: Be sure to “export” the final image as a JPG (or other file type), rather than just saving because the save button only saves the file as XCF that can only be opened/edited with GIMP, which is common for graphic/photo editing software.
Final Thoughts: I feel that GIMP has served as the software to help me get more comfortable with the basic photo editing tools, while training my “mousing hand” to be more precise when erasing backgrounds and the like. Perhaps if I didn’t get the student discount for Photoshop Elements, I would have dedicated more time to learning GIMP and making it work for me.