A Second Look at GIMP

Published on 2007-03-08 by John Collins.

Recently I had to produce a small icon for a web application I was working on. Normally if I was on Windows, I would fire up an application I was familiar with like Adobe Illustrator or Adobe PhotoShop, but it just so happens that I was working on a Linux machine and I needed the icon now.

So I decided to have a look at using GIMP again. I say again because I have used it before years ago, but did not like the complex interface (still don't like the floating windows, reminds me of the old Dreamweaver), so I gave up on it and reverted back to Adobe. Well it has come on a bit since I last used it, and I have to say I am very impressed with this application.

I needed to carry out a fairly complex set of tasks: take an existing transparent PNG of a person icon; create two additional layers in The GIMP containing a copy of the person each; now reposition the new layers, giving the appearance of the two new people to be standing in front of the old one; then I carried out some retouching at the pixel level and cropped the image to a suitable size. The end result of this was that I had an icon representing a group of people rather than a single one.

What impressed me the most was that I was able to achieve this (under pressure) in around ten minutes in an application that I had no experience with, and had no time to search the Net or manuals for help on. The interface of GIMP now feels very intuitive, with the menu options I needed just being in the places I expected to find them. I will be spending more time on this application in the months ahead. Time to say goodbye to PhotoShop?