Monday, November 17, 2008

Why GIMP?


Over my past few years of experience with graphic design and the like, some of my friends and colleagues have often asked me this question: “Why do you use GIMP and not *this*?” And I often wonder to myself, “Why not?”, but just before I indulge myself in an unending conversation with them, a bit of thought leads me to some simple answers.

Before I begin discussing those answers, I might as well take a bit of your time to introduce what “The GIMP” actually is. The GIMP (I often wouldn’t want to omit the word “The”) or The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a “free raster graphics editor used to process digital graphics and photographs. Typical uses include creating graphics and logos, resizing and cropping photos, altering colors, combining multiple images, removing unwanted image features, and converting between different image formats” (source: wikipedia.org). And beyond this definition lies even a greater and more vast sets of features, capabilities, and characteristics but I wouldn’t be enumerating of all those sets for now because I believe it would take too much of your time or even your interest. With these in mind, you might probably have a picture on your mind right now on what this application is all about.

With the introduction above, I would now start answering the question. So “Why GIMP?”

  1. The GIMP was one of the first graphic application software I have ever been introduced to and have actually tried using. Back in my younger years, I’ve doodled around the famous Microsoft’s Paint Program or you could call it MSPaint, and it was so much fun! Where creating shapes, colors, lines, and figures was more exciting than playing mud in the field. And when I entered high school, it dawned on me the opportunities and the broad world of what these shapes and colors could actually do and affect the world we’re living in. But I just couldn’t fit myself in, not until I reached college where my parents have actually bought me and my older brother a personal computer for our school projects. And from then on, I’ve met quite a number of people having the same passion and interest. We started discussing stuff regarding this matter. Then eventually I learned of Adobe Photoshop, it was version 7 back then I guess, was impressed by how great the software was and was even more impressed by the number of things you could actually do with it. Only, these features come with a great deal of money, which, for a student like me back then couldn’t actually afford. But we’re here in the Philippines and accept it or not, piracy is a business here and it’s been like a culture. So you might have guessed it by now, the people who I actually interacted with, showing me Adobe Photoshop, actually had the copy pirated and didn’t spend a single centavo on its acquisition.It was December, I got home early from school, but my brother’s sched was so flexible that he is home hours before I could, and that means me not able to use the computer until he’s done with his tasks. By the way, we weren’t using the Windows Operating System then, but we were using a Linux and FreeBSD OS with KDE being the desktop environment. Surprisingly, he called me over and showed me one piece of software I could never forget my whole life! Before he could actually let me see his screen, he was talking riddles about the open source foundation, free software, linux distros, blah blah blah, all of which didn’t register on my mind back then, probably due to too much excitement from what he has for me. Then, yes, I was able to see his screen and stare blankly with heart pounding on a “squary” grayish piece of application. What I saw on my brother’s screen was called “THE GIMP”, a graphics software that has changed my life since then…

  2. The user interface was one of the many things that I loved most about this software, though I know many people who have actually used it might argue with me on that matter but you can’t blame me for my loving it.If I remember it right, the version series that I saw back then was GIMP 1.0 and it looked something like on the left (or even older). Now you have an idea what that “squary” stuff I was talking about a while ago.Just by looking at it, you can already figure out what this boxy screen could actually do, as compared to MSPaint which has a simpler user interface I suppose.Unlike the other programs back then (e.g. Photoshop, Corel, etc.) where everything was situated in a single window, GIMP handles windows separately, scattered (positively) with different window areas. This, as a matter of fact, has its own pros and cons. One of the pros I could think of right now is the the way windows are plainly focused, without the distraction of other tools showing. Though this, for other users might be irritating due to the multiple instances of its windows, creating even more distraction. It’s a case to case basis though. Since then, developments have taken place (at a not-so-fast pace), and the user interface as we have seen before is now this (click to enlarge):
  3. The community and development. I assume that, without the active participation of communities and users worldwide, applications like The GIMP would die out naturally. GIMP was made by the people and for the people, so it is just rightfully just that it be given a continued support from the people who ever dreamed of having one. The development among other things is one of my most liked aspect of GIMP, since version 2, it has been continually being developed by the fantastic coders and volunteers, providing us users with the optimum tool and best alternative there is on the industry. Though I might want to suggest that the maintainers of the website keep us posted with tidbits of the development process.

  4. And lastly, to finalize some of my points, The GIMP is free. You don’t have to worry working very hard, earning and saving your money just to have a taste of one of the world’s powerful graphic applications. By free, I mean it is distributed without having to pay a centavo on it, but in itself has restrictions which, by far, are reasonable enough; like selling it to gain profit for yourself, distributing it as your own without the credit of the original creators and contributors, etc.You can see what I mean by grabbing your own copy here > http://gimp.org/downloads/

To sum up everything I've said so far:

Why did I choose The GIMP over other alternatives out there?

  • My first and will probably be my last graphic application software.
  • Awesome and powerful user interface.
  • Active community and development.
  • It's free and open to everyone!
  • And just a follow-up of all the things I've mentioned, I LOVE GIMP! ^_^


If you have enough time, you can visit my online gallery at
http://www.reynante.deviantart.com/gallery

Hopefully, this would be one of my posts regarding the “WHYs” of some of the daily tools I use. More to come soon!

3 comments:

Ernst R said...

Hello,
I just saw your post over at the blenderartists forum (onemanblend) and would like to leave a quick comment for you. Your writing is very genuine and your art work shows a lot of talent.
Well done!

Davros said...

Guess who this is from BAF :P Since I migrated from Windows to OpenSuSE, I started using GIMP a lot more, but I can't part away from my Photoshop. Well, whatever works :)

TR-JC / 3D-JC said...

Well, I use it because firstly, I didn't have to buy it, and secondly, it is undoubtedly a very powerful software for 2D graphics. (I read your post at Renderosity and decided to pop by here to comment).