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Is GIMP a real potential Photoshop contender? I think that question is best answered based on what you need GIMP to do and what your budget is. Don’t get me wrong, Photoshop is amazing but if you compare GIMP vs Photoshop there are situations where GIMP is perfect to use.
In fact, I think there are 5 reasons why GIMP is a great alternative to Photoshop. (There’s probably a lot more but I’m not going to make this into a research project.) Adobe’s CC is fantastic; Corel Draw, as well as other competitors, have their fans but most of these are fairly expensive programs.
#1 – Budget. Photoshop is expensive
One main reason GIMP appeals to many is the lack of expensive subscription fees. Adobe’s CC is fantastic; it has awesome features and using Adobe’s cloud platform makes it accessible from anywhere which is a plus. Certainly, any program that provides cloud storage is a nice feature. The problem is the pricy monthly subscription fee.
That adds up fast if you’re starting out. Unless you are a full-time designer with deep pockets, the fees for Photoshop might not fit your budget. And fees do add up quickly for small businesses and freelancers. Think about all those little (and big) monthly fees for web, advertising, SEO or other services needed to be online in addition to the design software you end up using.
That’s when a few free tools in your back pocket help. Free graphic tools like GIMP provide graphic design capability at a price that is easy on the budget.
#2 – Universal platform with a large support
As a popular free design tool, GIMP is universal; it provides downloadable versions for Windows, Linux and Mac users. Just go to GIMP.org to get the version you need.
Like many feature-rich graphic design programs, I won’t lie. The learning curve for GIMP can be steep for beginners. However, if you want beautiful graphics on a limited budget, the time it takes to learn GIMP is well spent. Plus, GIMP has a huge support community; GIMP’s site, Reddit and many GIMP forums provide help for newbies and pros alike.
#3 – GIMP understands and converts many vector formats
Frankly, one of the reasons I started using GIMP was when I needed to re-save EPS, AI, PSD files into a different format. then the original format. GIMP coverts most vector formats except SVGs. GIMP’s ability to convert files easily is a nice feature for those of us that find free vector graphics and want to blend, color or merge them into something new and unique. It pretty easy to quickly convert ai, eps or psd files to a different format using GIMP. I show how fast you can do this in my article here. It literally a couple of steps to do.
To me, starting with free and re-editing and merging into something new is really no different than coding or creating websites. You find and use bit’s and pieces of code, themes, plugins, scripts, etc when you create a website or a software program because it’s useful and saves time. While it is great to create from scratch, but if your primary goal is not selling your designs or services you’ll probably just looking for quick ways to make your graphics fit into your site and promotional material. In that case, blending free into new unique content is what you most need with the limited time you have. It all depends on what your design is for. If you aren’t selling your designs then this concept is one you can easily embrace. If you are a graphic designer looking to sell your work then this isn’t probably something you’ll do.
Since that first using GIMP I’ve slowly been integrating many of the other useful and amazing features that GIMP offers into my work. I’m not a “one tool for all needs” blogger simply because some of the online editors I use are fast and easy for small jobs. However, GIMP is a mainstay in my arsenal; there are many free image resources when used with GIMP can make eye-catching graphics for web, social media, and printed needs.
#4 – GIMP has more design features than most typical online editors.
From a purely designing perspective, GIMP does some things exceedingly well that many online editors can’t and won’t ever be able to do. Let’s face it. All good editors, online or downloadable, crop, resize and manipulate images or graphics in file formats like jpg or png. That’s required otherwise the editor is useless. GIMP’s ability to remove complex backgrounds, add dimensional effects, filters, erase, blend and merge images and graphics, use scripts to add special effects and much more goes beyond what other online editors can do.
While GIMP is not a vector graphics program like Inkscape, GIMP can be used to create some awesome graphics, 3d and special effects. Plus, GIMP can use and has scripts (written in python) to create really cool effects within seconds. If you don’t know python, that’s not a problem because there are some great free scripts available. You simply copy and paste them into GIMP’s folders and the scripts are available within GIMP using programs like script-fu or python-fu.
#5 – GIMP as a Print On Demand, Scrapbooking, and Photo Editing Tool
In particular, print on demand products require cool and unique graphics; GIMP’s ability to use locally installed fonts, image backgrounds, gradients, and patterns allows for creative graphic designs. Some online editors like Picmonkey, Canva and a few others I mention in my other articles support local fonts, but few can resize, transform or “fit” fonts into shapes and 3D images. GIMP does that and makes it a perfect choice for creating cool print-on-demand designs. Many of GIMP’s features with layers, filters, brushes, and masks are perfect for digital scrapbooking, photo fixes and basic image blending techniques.
Are there any cons with GIMP?
GIMP Cons For Mac Users
There are always cons to tools and GIMP has a few. For one I already mentioned; it can be challenging to learn. Performing some tasks in GIMP is not always intuitive. I’ve certainly used other programs that were easier. GIMP.org does provide a downloadable manual but I was never one to sit and read a manual. Personally I prefer online support forums and GIMP user forums are readily available (Reddit, Slack and a few other sites offer those). Still, it takes time to install, tweak and get comfortable with GIMP.
GIMP is feature-rich; that means it has a lot of options. On the downside, GIMP has a lot to configure. That too is a challenge at a time. Particularly support for GIMP on Macs is not as well documented as for Windows or Linux. In fact, my gripe is that installing and configuring GIMP on MAC is more difficult. But once set up, GIMP is a great tool and worth the effort.
While GIMP is called the GNU Image Manipulation Program, it could just be considered the free version of Photoshop.
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