My adventures with GIMP

I use Linux. I don’t like Windows, and I don’t care for macOS. I love Linux, and its software. I especially love the fact that most Linux software is Free Software. I’m not a Nazi about Free Software. I’ll use proprietary software if there’s simply no usable free alternative. Google Earth, Skype, and NVIDIA drivers are a few that come to mind. However, some people feel that free software must be inferior to commercial software because it doesn’t cost anything. Some people are just so comfortable with their proprietary software that they won’t consider using a free equivalent.

One of the best examples of this is Adobe Photoshop and The GIMP. Photoshop is a commercial graphics editor produced by Adobe. GIMP is an open source graphics editor maintained by a group of volunteers under the auspices of The GNU Project. I did a little research to find out what the real differences between the two are. Most of the well-thought-out articles I read said that the most significant feature lacking from GIMP is support for the CMYK color model. This is used extensively in printing. For this reason, GIMP is unsuitable for use in publishing. However, for just about any other use, GIMP is perfectly capable, as long as the user is familiar with the interface and program’s capabilities.

The other complaint against GIMP has nothing to do with GIMP itself. The complaint is that Photoshop is an industry standard not just for publishing, but also web design and graphics design (not entirely true: it’s a de facto standard). When working with a company that requires work to be in Photoshop format, the GIMP simply won’t do. It doesn’t import Photoshop files perfectly, and it doesn’t export Photoshop files perfectly. I will concede to that, however an individual whose work simply needs to be a JPEG, or PNG, or any other common graphics format, is perfectly fine using GIMP, as long as he knows how.

The biggest problem I have when I’m trying to explain this to people is that I, myself, am not very familiar with either Photoshop or GIMP. I haven’t used Photoshop more than a few times in the past five years. And I only use GIMP on occasion. So I’m not able to talk about particular features. So, I’ve set out to change that. I have recently started reading through various GIMP tutorials so that I can familiarize myself with the program and its capabilities. I decided to share with you the results of the first of my forays into learning the GIMP.

I started with the Souping up a Photo tutorial at This is an adaptation of a Photoshop tutorial at PSD TUTS.

Rather than using their example image, I figured I’d learn more if I used an image of my own and just adapted the tutorial to my needs. So, I started with this image (on the left) of two of my friends having a swimming race.

Chris and Abinadi racing
Much better

After some editing, I came up with the image on the right. I consider it much stronger than the original, and allows the viewer to focus on the action at hand more easily.


The next step was to see if I could achieve a similar effect without going through the tutorial step by step. So I took another picture, from the same trip, of a chicken fight. The original is on the left, and the modified one is on the right. I did all the modifications without the tutorial at all. I did what I remembered, with a few modifications that I felt improved it. For example, I airbrushed out the ghosts (little orbs of light from the flash reflecting off dust or water droplets in the air).

Lisa and Kasey fighting to the death (well, at least to the water).
Unimportant background details faded out.
Foreground action emphasized.

I think there’s a definite improvement in the pictures here. Most importantly, my GIMP skills have sharpened just a little. If I make any more GIMP masterpieces, I intend to write about them here, as well as post them to my flickr account.

Finally, if any of the subjects of either of these pictures would like a high quality copy of the pictures, just send me an email.