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Is GIMP cool or lame?

I’m a big fan of open source, or alternative, software. I’m not a fan of paying hundreds of dollars for an application. Needless to say I’m not a big fan of Microsoft or Adobe.

GIMP LogoSo what’s a good open source graphic design application? I’ve tried a lot of programs and now I’m looking at GIMP. GIMP is the free alternative to Photoshop. But how well does it work?

A friend said that it’s hard to convert from Photoshop to GIMP. Since I’m a Fireworks fan, I guess I don’t have to worry about that one. πŸ˜‰

But what does GIMP really do? Does it open PSD or AI files? Does it do vector or just bitmap? Easy to use?

I’ve been wanting to try it, but it requires X11 on my Mac. I’m not sure what that is so I never installed it. I may though if GIMP is cool enough.

What do you think? Is GIMP a great piece of freeware or a lacking alternative for graphic design?

18 Responses

  1. Katy says:

    I love the Gimp. I use PhotoShop at work on my Mac and Gimp at home on my PC and I can switch between the two easily – you can install a script that maps PhotoShop shortcuts to the Gimp.

    Version 2.4’s just come out with a more updated interface and a few tweaks to the tool set, I’d recommend trying it out.

    As for X11, I installed that on my Macbook in order to get Open Office to work and haven’t noticed any problems.

  2. I would say switching from Fireworks to Gimp is harder than the Photoshop switch. The main reason being that Fireworks is much more vector-oriented when it comes to creating stuff. Gimp, for the most part, is a bitmap image editor like Photoshop used to be.

    In any case, I would recommend you give it a go and make sure you give it enough time. As with pretty much all community-driven software, the first impression may not be great, but it will grow on you steadily.

  3. I’ve been using GIMP for nearly four years now, and I can honestly say that I see no difference between Photoshop and GIMP, other than a shinier GUI that exists on Photoshop.
    Yes, it is better suited for bitmap and JPEG work, but that’s not to say you can’t vector with it.
    (I’ve never tried, but it could work, I guess. You might need to ask the GIMP community if they know convenient tricks for vectoring in GIMP.)
    Most of my own art work is either edited or colored in GIMP, and besides lacking certain effects, which I believe is only a matter of adding scripts and plug-ins, it works well for damn near any type of graphics work.

  4. Thomas says:

    Katy – Instead of Open Office, you should check out NeoOffice. It is like Open Office without X11.

    Ashish – I thought that Fireworks to GIMP would be easier seeing as it’d be a completely different program where as Photoshop and GIMP are similar. But it’ll be a big change, very true.

    Can GIMP open AI or PSD files? That’s one of my big questions of the moment. πŸ™‚

  5. Katy says:

    Someone else recommended NeoOffice, the problem is I have a years worth of meeting notes in OpenOffice format so that’s why I plumped for it.

    You can open PSD files but it looks like you can’t edit text layers as they get rasterized. I haven’t been able to successfully open an Illustrator file.

  6. Jeremy says:

    I don’t really know. I think GIMP is harder to use than Photoshop, and is more complicated. But I’ll have to check it out to find out.

  7. Alpha Nerd says:

    GIMP and Photoshop blow chunks. Paint.NET rules, but it’s Windows Only.

  8. Prophetnoise says:

    I love the gimp on my macs. I’m using it to teach myself graphic design.

    X11 is on the OSX Install disc.

    Also, if you google Wilbur loves Apple, it will take you to a great site with a version of the GIMP ported for mac, with great install instructions. It’s really easy.

    And if you get the GIMP from Wilbur Loves Apple, it’s specifically designed to automatically open X11 when you open the GIMP. There’s also scripts there so that you can use the Apple key instead of the ctrl key, among other things.

  9. Blitz says:

    GIMP Is The Worst Piece Of Gargabe That Open Source Have Ever Made…

  10. The Zero says:

    dude, get your facts straight before you blabber about stuff

    I’ve been working with GIMP for about a year now, and I must say, it’s quite impressive
    Try it out for yourself

  11. Dainis says:


    Does GIMP have text effects that don’t require rasterization of the layer? I can’t find anything like that.


  12. brandonh says:

    “GIMP and Photoshop blow chunks. Paint.NET rules, but it’s Windows Only.”

    Who’s going to trust the guy using internet explorer with vista on what software to use?

    I’ve been toying with the GIMP lately. It’s my first real editor, as mostly I’ve never had the need for anything more advanced than MS Paint. It’s good to ask around, but just try it for yourself.

  13. Rod says:

    I’ve recently started using GIMP on Linux after using Photoshop for years on Windows. The transition is easy, there are tons of tutorials for those not finding their way around it and it’s very impressive.

    I’ve opened AI files in GIMP, however they are flat images.

    If your looking to do some vector based work i’d suggest you check out Inkscape, which is another open source project. The 2 applications complement each other very well. (inskape tutorials here

    So… GIMP is powerful and easy to use. As for weather it’s “cool”… I think that depends on your definition.

  14. Me says:

    Just tried to open .PSD and .AI – both opened in Gimp – just thought someone should answer your question

  15. molbal says:

    It’s DAMN cooool 8)

  16. Carl Smith says:

    X11 is server program. It is used by almost every Linux distribution to enable stuff like graphics and mouse input. Without X, you’re stuck at the command line. Mac obviously use some other software for this, well, being Apple, it’s probably the same software, with a proprietary twist. GIMP depends on X to do it’s thing so Macs need it installing. I think Apple provide a copy of X for Macs officially.

    As for GIMP Vs PS, Photoshop is better, but GIMP is open source. Both will happily handle most things you’ll actually want to do. The truth is, if you can’t get it done on GIMP, you’re rubbish at art, but it’s still often easier on Photoshop.

    If you already have Photoshop and know how to use it, there’d be little point installing X and GIMP to have a poor man’s version of the same thing.

  17. SashaO says:

    The worst program ever. Horrible user interface, bloat loading, always installed and after few days unistalled, but necer again (right now unistalled GIMP 2.8). There is no alternative for Photoshop.

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