Michael J. Hammel has written a clear and thorough guide to artist techniques using the GIMP. GIMP is an open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. I had used the GIMP minimally before I received this book and I'd never used Photoshop, but I found the instructions articulate and easy to follow. Artists, graphic designers, and photographers will all find useful information in this sumptuously illustrated text.
GIMP is an acronym that stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The author begins the book with an introduction to the software's basic tools. These will be familiar to any person who has used even Microsoft's image tools: patterns, gradients, basic shapes and colors, scanning images, and so on. The author includes a few basic tutorials for the beginning user.
The remaining chapters are Photographic Effects, Web Design, Advertising and Special Effects, Type Effects, and User Interface Design. Most GIMP users will likely focus on photography and web design. However, the last chapter seems especially intriguing, including as it does such information on designing prototypes for handhelds, and gaming consoles. I am not sure if I will use it, but I still want to read it! (I know… geekgrrrl.)
My current project is learning how to create artistic and non-derivative (i.e. non-Front Page) web pages, so I read and practiced the web design chapter faithfully. I learned how to create gel and metallic buttons, tiles, and complex borders (vines and flowers, etc.). There is even a section on waving flags which I suppose someone may wish to use, but I find constantly moving graphics a distraction when I read a web page. There are some interesting advertising techniques in the following chapter that I will try as my web page becomes more sophisticated.
Hammel's book is lavishly illustrated. The artistic work is brightly colored, printed in four-color. This is inspiring to the visual creator. The screen shots are especially helpful to the beginning GIMP user.
One of the most useful parts to this book is that each chapter (following Fundamental Techniques) is concluded with a section of Tips on the chapter topic. The tips also include websites for information and inspiration.
Mr. Hammel has been involved in the development of GIMP since version 0.54 (it is currently in version 2.3) and also wrote a column on GIMP for Linux Format magazine.