Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Do you want a free alternative to Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop will set you back about 19.99/month. Other plans will cost from $10 to about $80/month. Fortunately there is an open source image manipulation program that is free.

The program is GIMP which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP site describes the program as

GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, you can change its source code and distribute your changes.

Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.

You can download a copy for your operating system from the GIMP Download Page.

Gimp has a number of extensions and filters. Unfortunately the plugin registry has had issues and is a static site as of January 2018. That means that the ability to post questions about plugins is not available. Some of the plugins and filters will have their own support on their site.

There are some things to consider:

  • The user interface for GIMP is not a copy of Photoshop’s interface. There are a number of reasons for this but the reality is that there are significant differences.
  • You can import and export files in Adobe’s PSD formats as well as a number of other formats.
  • The learning curve can be steep but that depends on exactly what you need to accomplish with the app.
  • You will not have the exact same filters available that you would have in Photoshop.
  • This is not a tool for novices. Someone familiar with Photoshop should be able to master a corresponding level of expertise quickly.

Summary:

GIMP is a great alternative to Photoshop for specific situations. This is true of other open source applications such as LibreOffice.

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