Calling GIMP an 'image editor' is like calling the sleek, limited edition, 268mph Bugatti Veyron Super Sport a 'nice car'. It doesn’t even scratch the surface.
For the GIMP is an incredible piece of software - versatile, powerful and free. It’s the answer to your image editing needs, especially if you’ve ever peeked at the price of Adobe Photoshop and gulped 'how much!?'
If you didn’t know (or guess), GIMP is an acronym. It stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, a title that highlights the program’s origins as a Linux image editor.
But, as we’ve pointed out, GIMP is much more than a simple image editor. Using it simply for red-eye removal and image resizing would be as much of a crime as using the aforementioned Bugatti supercar to do your weekly shopping.
GIMP is a complex beast, a well-tooled, free alternative to the power of Photoshop that comes with various professional features for pictures and photos.
The selection and montage techniques are particularly solid and it offers plenty of selection tools. The retouching and contrast correction fulfil most user demands too. In just a few steps you can crop images, edit cuttings, colourize images, reduce CCD noise and decrease problem contrast.
While it certainly has the basic image editing features you’d expect, GIMP also caters for expert-level users, yet we doubt that they know every nook and cranny or every function and option.
A quick look at the GIMP’s tutorials page gives you a glimpse of what the software is capable of - layer masks, bezier curves and gradients, adding film grain or watercolour effects to images, making custom brushes, and using GAP (the GIMP Animation Package).
Of course, for many years GIMP had a reputation for being difficult to use. It has previously been an irritation for Windows users in that it completely ignored various Windows UI conventions.
But that's all over. Since version 2.8, the software runs completely in one window and it's fully Windows 8 compatible. The installer you can download here features both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of GIMP and is clever enough to install the appropriate one automatically.
Verdict: This freeware image editor can do more than many £50 products. Despite a few small niggles and a steep learning curve, the installation is definitely worth it. The user interface of a modified version of GIMP (called Gimpshop) mimics the look and feel of Adobe Photoshop and makes it much easier to use.
Tip: The free add-on PSPI enables you to use plug-ins in the 8BF format in GIMP.