The GNU Image Manipulation (GIMP) software suite is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, and has really taken off. The price is very attractive, but the trade-off is the fact that GIMP is not the easiest program to use. I have used both, and find GIMP far less intuitive than the Adobe product. Nevertheless, with a little effort on the part of the user, GIMP works very well. Since GIMP does not come with a user’s manual per se, others have stepped in to help out. No Starch Press have just published The Artist’s Guide to GIMP: Creative Techniques for Photographers, Artists, and Designers by Michael J. Hammel. It is an excellent guide to some of the program’s applications.
This 295-page book is not as comprehensive as the recent Book of GIMP (also from No Starch), but The Artist’s Guide has a lot to recommend it. The Book of GIMP is highly detailed, and is in fact practically a manual. The Artist’s Guide assumes a certain amount of familiarity with GIMP on the part of the user. This is the second edition of The Artist’s Guide, updated to cover GIMP 2.8, the latest edition of the software.
The Artist’s Guide to GIMP is broken down into six chapters. These are “Fundamental Techniques;” “Photographic Effects;” “Web Design;” “Advertising and Special Effects;” “Type Effects;” and “Creative Inspiration.”
As is probably self-explanatory, the first chapter, “Fundamental Techniques,” is about as close to a basic guide to GIMP as the book offers. My interest in Photoshop has always been with its photographic uses, to make my pictures look better. GIMP works very well for the basics, such as removing red-eye, cropping, fixing the exposure, and such. But there are a lot of more advanced properties to it as well. Chapter two, “Photographic Effects,” details a few of these, and present some very cool results.
My interest in GIMP pretty much begins and ends with photography, but I found the rest of The Artist’s Guide to be quite intriguing. The chapters on web design, advertising and special effects, and type effects, all have some great examples of what a person can do with the program in those areas. The final chapter, “Creative Inspiration,” presents some highly advanced techniques for pictures. These are basically exercises designed to help us get more familiar with the program, and add a nice hands-on element. My first project from this chapter will be the “Star Field,” but I am not quite there yet.
GIMP may not be as intuitive as Photoshop, but it is not ridiculously difficult to use either. I found a lot of good information in The Artist’s Guide to GIMP, and recommend it for those who have a basic working knowledge of the program.