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What Is GIMP?

written by: KateG•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 3/3/2010

In this article I introduce you to GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), the open source, and free, image editing software, as well as show you where to get it. This is the first in a series of how-to articles on using GIMP in your DTP projects.

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    So, What Is It?

    So, you saw the title of this piece and you are probably wondering what exactly GIMP is. Well, I will not keep you waiting: GIMP is an image editing piece of software. Before we get into a lot of details about the software you should know the really cool thing about this software--well, two really cool things.

    1. The software is available not only for Windows and Apple operating systems but also for Linux. This means that no system will be left out of the party and you will have complete cross system compatibility for your files.

    2. You can get this software online as a free download. That is right - you will not be charged for the software.

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    What GIMP Does Best

    Now that we have gotten by those two little but oh so important details out of the way we can talk about the software itself. After all, there are a great deal of other pieces of software that will edit your images for free. Heck your shiny new digital camera more than likely came with a disk that had at least one kind of digital imaging editing software on it. You know the kind that lets you crop the photos, reduce the red eye, and maybe rotate it around or put on a funny novelty border. You may have even downloaded a piece of software that lets you make edits and upload your photos to a site like Flickr.

    GIMP is, however, a completely different affair. This piece of software is a lot like the commercial image editing software that you can buy for a professional. If you have ever paid out in order to get a version of Photoshop then you will have an idea of what you will be getting when you use GIMP. The quality of this software and its advanced ability is the hallmark of this title. It will give you the ability to use what is known as multi-layered image editing. This means that you can separate out an element of the background, for example the clouds, and by putting them on their own layer you can alter only those elements. That means that golden sunkissed or cotton candy pink are both within reach without having to tint the whole of the sky. The software also gives you quality cropping ability so that you can take your 8 year old and put them on the face of the moon, on a billboard or as the next president of the United States.

    Now that you know why GIMP is a good choice for more than just basic image editing needs, you should know that I am not just making a recommendation for software and leaving you high and dry with no instructions on how to use the software. In this series we will be taking a look at how to use the software, starting from the ground up. So even if you have never used an image editor before we will have you editing like you were an old pro.