GIMP is a raster graphics editor available as open source, free software (freeware). The key feature of GIMP (short for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is that it offers much of the same functionality and features as more widely used commercial graphics programs, such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel PaintShop Pro. This can especially attractive to educators who cite costs as a concern for avoiding utilizing commercially available photo-editing software.
GIMP is available for the Linux, Mac OSX and Windows operating systems, and has been included previously as part of certain Linux OS packages.
In 1995, two University of California–Berkeley students, Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis, began developing GIMP as a semester-long project. GIMP was originally created for UNIX systems, but supported systems such as Linux in its first release. Following the first release GIMP was rapidly adopted and a community emerged consisting of users who created tutorials, artwork and shared techniques. GIMP has been subsequently ported to many operating systems including Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.
Mattis, who now works for Google, stated in 1999 the motivations to develop GIMP and free software
|“||You should understand that the GIMP and GTk+ (GIMP Toolkit)weren't written to fill holes in the software available under the GPL (GNU General Public License) and LGPL (GNU Library General Public License). The GIMP was started because I wanted to make a Web page. GTk was started because I was dissatisfied with Motif and wanted to see what it took to write a UI toolkit. These are purely selfish reasons. That is probably why the projects progressed so far and eventually succeeded. I find it much more difficult to work on something for extended periods of time for selfless reasons.
Think about how many vaporware projects have started because someone said, "the open source community needs X to succeed." Now think about how many open source software packages are available in which the author states, "I wrote Y because I needed to be able to do Z" or "I wrote Y because I wanted to learn how to do Z."
GIMP originally had a single document interface main window and several dialogue windows used for tools, color palettes, etc. Older versions of GIMP with the single document inteface have come under some criticism because the responsibility of managing additional windows was left to the operating system, thus forcing the user to place each window in a functional location. This has caused some confusion among users who cite concerns for situations where the toolbox and layer windows end up hidden behind unrelated application windows. In more recent versions, GIMP has switched to a multiple document interface, where GIMP tells desktop environments how to handle its windows.
Both Photoshop and GIMP offer a common set of basic functions, but differ broadly in how these functions perform through the interface. While GIMP is a very complete and robust program, it cannot support the broad range of functions as that of Photoshop. A few examples of this are: the number and types devices that Photoshop can import from, including video; extended capabilities like 3D image editing, video animation painting and editing, plus automated technical/medical image measurements; a closely integrated organizer/browser, like Adobe Bridge; workspace commands; and an infrastructure that gives users many more options through its file commands.
For basic photo-editing, however, GIMP compares favorably well in terms of its ability to open/import most of the basic bitmap graphic filetypes including PNG, JPG, GIF; its ability to adjust those images with crop, rotate, resize and many other transformations; its ability to make local retouches, sharpening and other image corrections; its ability to perform color and exposure/lightness corrections with a broad range of dialogs and tools; its ability to mask selective areas on an image(or layer)- only there will edits/brushstrokes apply; its ability to allow creating a stack of two or dozens of layers from other images, text, vector graphics, etc; its ability to allow filters or special effects to be applied to one or more layers including the base image; and its ability to produce output to several graphic filetypes, printers, and/or web pages/galleries.
GIMP's price point (free) and rich feature list make it possible to transform the way students manipulate objects and images in a way that explores the nature of design - planning, organization and construction. The open-source and cross-platform features of GIMP also suggest that it is equitable in nature and that its use is not strictly governed by socio-economic constraints, provided that a computer is available. This equitability is not limited to the school setting - any student with access to a computer outside of school would potentially be able utilize GIMP in their free-time.
As an open-source, cross-platform application, GIMP is well-supported by a large community of users and developers. There are several forums and user groups available to answer questions, and plenty of tutorials to help new users get started or help seasoned users hone their skills.
Thanks to a large user and developer community there are lots of existing tutorials on the web. here are a few:
The GIMP MascotEdit
The official mascot of GIMP, Wilber was created by Tuomas Kuosmanen at some point before September 25, 1997; since then Wilber has received additional accessories from other GIMP developers.