Friday, August 18, 2006


I have to admit to being bored lately with this blog. Rather than disappear entirely, I thought I would fill in some space and pass the time with a short series of posts about some of the software featured in my sidebar.

The first one I'd like to talk about is the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), available free from the GIMP.org web site. Installation of this program on Windows is, unfortunately, not as straightforward as most other programs. It is a three-step process. Each step involves clicking a setup.exe file that extracts and installs files on the computer. The first step is to install the GTK+ 2 Runtime Environment. This is the software that provides the GIMP's graphical interface. The second step is to install the GIMP itself. The third step is to install the help files for the gimp. All of these files are zip archives. After unzipping them you will have a setup.exe file you can run to install the component.

After all components are installed you should have a Start menu entry for the GIMP and maybe a desktop icon. When you start the GIMP you should see something like this, except that it will look more like a Windows program than the screenshot above does.

There is a free book about photo editing you can download and read as a set of web pages on your computer called Grokking the GIMP. 7-Zip can handle unpacking this file. A more recent book available from Amazon is "Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional" for $32.99 with free shipping.

The GIMP features a wide array of plugins that automate many image adjustments and even help with image construction. There is a full set of painting tools, and standard graphics tools such as layers, masks, paths, selections, gradients, patterns, and palletes. There is a powerful add-on package for animation called the GAP.

There are several Web sites devoted to the GIMP besides the main GIMP Web site.
If you want a powerful application for graphics without paying Photoshop prices (or "stealing" software from your friends), the GIMP is perfect. It will never cost you a cent and offers most of Photoshop's or Paint Shop Pro's feature sets.