In effect, GIMP 2.0 is a stable, end-user version of GIMP 1.3, which has been available for some time now. The previous stable, end-user version is GIMP 1.2.
GIMP was first released in 1995. Originally, GIMP was a Linux/UNIX program. However, it has been ported to the Apple Macintosh OS X and Microsoft Windows platforms -- that effectively makes GIMP a cross-platform (XP) program.
We have not had a chance to put the final GIMP 2.0 through its paces yet. However, MozillaQuest Magazine recently published four articles about the GIMP that are based upon GIMP 1.3, an overview and three tutorials. In effect, these four MozillaQuest Magazine articles are a comprehensive preview of GIMP 2.0 because GIMP 1.3 is the development version of GIMP 2.0.
In doing the legwork for those articles we found the 1.3 preview versions of GIMP 2.0 to be, well, we found them to be just plain great!
The most immediately noticeable improvement in GIMP 2.0 over the preceding GIMP 1.x versions is the look and feel of the GIMP, the user interface. Please see Figure 1, below.
Another major and noticeable GIMP 2.0 improvement is the Text Tool particularly the capability to edit text layers at later stages of work on an image.
GIMP v Photo$hop
GIMP looks and feels much like Adobe Photoshop (GIMP = GNU Image Manipulation Program). Unlike Photoshop, the GIMP is free (as in beer) and does not need to be registered or activated.
There are desktop and user interface (UI) differences between GIMP and Photoshop that take some getting use to if you already are familiar with Photoshop. Traditionally, Photoshop has had an easier to use desktop and user interface. However, the GIMP 2.0 desktop and UI changes all that. GIMP now is as easy to use as is Photoshop perhaps even easier.
GIMP does not have all the advanced, commercial, pre-press features that Photoshop does have. However, it comes pretty close to Photoshop with actual photo editing and image manipulation. Moreover. GIMP has some features that Photoshop does not have.
In short, unless you are a professional photographer or image editor who needs Photoshop's prepress features, you likely can do just about everything that you need or want to do with GIMP instead of Adobe Photoshop. Moreover at Photoshop's $649 price tag ($169 for upgrade from a licensed copy of Photoshop 7 or earlier) there are 649 more good reasons to use GIMP instead of Photoshop.
Photoshop has a greedy and consumer-unfriendly end-user license agreement (EULA). GIMP is free and has a very consumer-friendly license known as the General Public License (GPL). Please see the Adobe Photoshop & GIMP Licensing Note in the right-hand sidebar on Page 2.
Additionally, Photoshop has a horrible and very anti-consumer Product Activation requirement. GIMP has no such crap! Please see the Adobe Product Activation Note in the sidebar on Page 2.
A very nice thing about GIMP is that you can try it without paying a cent. Moreover, if you try the GIMP and like it, you do not have to pay a cent to keep on using it. If you are a Linux user, chances are that you already have GIMP installed on your Linux-based computer. So, all you need to do is to upgrade to GIMP 2.0
If you are a Microsoft Windows user, chances are that you do not already have the GIMP installed. Nevertheless you can download a Windows version of GIMP, free, and easily install it yourself. If your Linux distribution did not come with the GIMP you also can download a free Linux version of the GIMP. Download links are in the Resources section at the end of this article on page 2.
You might find it difficult to obtain GIMP 2.0 binaries at this time. The GIMP developers have released the GIMP 2.0 source code. So, it will take some time until the various people and organizations that provide compiled versions (binaries) of GIMP release the GIMP 2.0 binaries for the various Linux distributions and other platforms such as Mac and Windows.
If you are in to compiling, you can download the source code and compile GIMP 2.0 yourself. Or, you can download and install a compiled version of GIMP 1.3 or one of the pre-2.0 GIMP binaries to use until you can get the GIMP 2.0 binary for your system.
The GIMP 2.0 Desktop and Canvas
Figure 1, below, is a screen shot of GIMP version 1.3 running on SUSE Linux 9.0. As explained above, in effect GIMP 1.3 is a preview of GIMP 2.0. Thus, Figure 1 is tantamount to a look at the GIMP 2.0 desktop and canvas.
In GIMP 2.0, some dialogs/palettes are toggled in the same dialog box. If you look at the bottom left dialog box in Figure 1 you should see the Layers dialog/palette. Just above the line Mode: Normal on that Layers dialog/palette there are seven icons; tools, brush, gradient, paint bucket, layers, undo, and channels. You can toggle that dialog/palette to display either the Tool Options, Brush Grid, Gradient List, Pattern Grid, Layer List, Undo History, or Channel List dialog/palette by clicking on the appropriate icon.
You can add icons to toggle that bottom left dialog box to display any of the dialogs that are available in the GIMP. Or, you can add icons to toggle any dialog/palette to include any of the other dialogs.
This is a very handy feature of GIMP 2.0. By making one or more such combination dialog/palette boxes, you can keep dialog/palette clutter from creeping all over your monitor screen. That leaves much more room for image canvases.
You also can open dialogs/palettes as stand-alone (un-docked) panels too. At the bottom-right of Figure 1, the Pattern Grid (paint bucket icon) dialog and Navigation dialog are opened as stand-alone panels. The upper-right portion of Figure 1 is the photo/image canvas.
The arrangement of the panels in Figure 1 is not a default arrangement. We arranged it that way in order to show all these panels in one figure.
How to Use GIMP for Photo and Image Editing:
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