So you want to learn image editing!
Maybe you've been shooting lots of pictures with your digital camera and want to learn how to make them look great, or prepare them for the Web.
Maybe you're interested in creating drawings or cartoons. Or you're already editing images, but you want to get better... even learn some of the theory behind imaging.
In any case, you've been hearing about the GIMP - the GNU Image Manipulation Program - and you're ready to learn how to use it and get the most out of it.
This book is ideal for anyone attempting image editing for the first time, but it goes deep enough to satisfy the intermediate GIMPster who knows the basics but needs more. Plus, it contains enough hidden tricks and reference matter to gratify even power users. Anyone with an interest in digital art and a willingness to explore should find lots of useful tips and fun projects throughout the book.
Akkana Peck started using GIMP because Akkana started using a digital camera then wanted to edit the images and became frustrated with existing image editing software. Beginning GIMP starts from the viewpoint of someone what has images and wants to learn how to improve the images.
Akkana dived so deep into GIMP that Akkana contributes to the development of GIMP, which makes Akkana an expert at the level where she can talk about the more difficult aspects of image editing; not just describe what to do but also explain the why and how. On the back of the book, Beginning GIMP is labelled as beginner to intermediate but many books at that level struggle to cover the stuff you really need to know and fail to explain why you need to do something or how it actually works. Akkana does a good job of starting each item with why you want to do whatever you are about to do and then explaining how it works.
Some books show you a neat trick then stop. When you try out the trick for yourself, the trick works sometimes but not always. Akkana shows you what happens when you do things the right way, some results from overdoing something, and ways to combine actions to make the result better than you would achieve with either action alone.
You would think the book would be huge; not just 500 pages. The writing style is concise which gives you the biggest result per page. You want the GIMP and images handy when you are reading so you can try out everything immediately. If you try to read a chapter at a time and then practice, you will miss lots of detail. Try out everything as you read paragraph by paragraph.
Up to Date
There are several books on the GIMP and Beginning GIMP is the most up to date, which is an important reason to choose Beginning GIMP over anything else.
The book is full of colour illustrations throughout the text, to show you exactly what happens with each action. The only thing you need to know at the start is how to use a keyboard, a mouse, and to open files, something you already know from using word processing programs.
- Get to Know the GIMP
- Improving Digital Photos
- Introduction to Layers
- Erasing and Touching Up
- Filters and Effects
- Color Manipulation, Channels, and Layer Modes
- Advanced Drawing
- Advanced Compositing
- Plug-Ins and Scripting
- Additional Topics
Plus appendices for installation in Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Plug-Ins and Scripting
Plug-ins let you add additional functions to GIMP; there are hundreds out there. Think of a car that does almost everything you want except make a great espresso coffee. Now imagine the car with a slot where you can plug in an espresso machine. They great advantage of GIMP over the car is that you can go on plugging many more extras into GIMP without filling it up, whereas a car just does not have enough room to plug in an espresso machine, a spa, and all the other things you could use while waiting at a red light.
If you cannot find a plugin to do what you want, you can write your own scripts to automate the tasks you perform frequently. Think about driving a car to work. Now imaging a car that you only have to drive to work once then you can give it a script to follow on subsequent days. Beginning GIMP introduces script writing and you can look at all the existing scripts to get an idea of how to write the script you want.
When you buy the ebook version of Beginning GIMP, you can launch into the installation of GIMP immediately the instructions in Appendix A and a download from gimp.org. If you buy the paper based version, you can install the GIMP from gimp.org using the instructions at gimp.org while waiting for the arrival of the printed book.
One advantage of the GIMP is that it runs on every useful computer including the ever popular Windows. Appendix B of Beginning GIMP covers installation details specific to Windows.
If you edit large images or lots of images then make sure your Windows system is set up with the NTFS file system instead of the FAT file system. Use the Pro version of Windows instead of the cheaper editions if you edit images for customers. The Pro version and NTFS have better security and reliability.
Linux is the second most popular operating system, usage is growing quickly, and you Web server is probably already using Linux. You can start with GIMP on Linux or, if you are using Windows, learn GIMP on Windows then switch to Linux under GIMP without having to change your image editing. Appendix D of Beginning GIMP contains installation information specific to Linux and Unix.
If you are using a very old version of Linux or Unix, upgrade your file system from Ext2 to Ext3 to get the reliability you will need when you have thousands of image files on your disk and you open many at the same time.
Apple's Mac computers are leaping up in popularity now that Apple has dumped the Mac operating system and switched to Unix; dumped a whole range of incompatible processors and switched to the industry standard Intel/AMD range; plus dumped the one button mouse in favour of industry standard full function mice. The installation and use of GIMP on Mac is now little more than a slight variation of a Unix installation, similar to using an unusual distribution of Linux.
GIMP or Inkscape
Beginning GIMP shows you how edit image files and draw pictures using sections of images. The resultant image is a fixed size. If you want to decrease the image size, you can resize the image down. If you want to increase the image size, you can resize up using GIMP but the image will eventually start to break apart when individual pixels become visible. To prevent the pixellation problem, make the original image in the largest size you will need and keep the components so that you can always rebuild the image if you ever need a larger size.
An alternative approach is to create a scalable vector graphics file, which requires a completely different approach. You use Inkscape instead of GIMP and draw outlines of images. When you resize an SVG file, the image is redrawn to the new size. SVG and Inkscape are usually use for illustrations, not photographs. If your customer wants SVG then look to Inkscape.
Which should you learn first, Inkscape or GIMP? When you create SVG illustrations with Inkscape, you will need background textures which are created in GIMP. Learn GIMP first. Learn to draw in GIMP. If someone specifically asks for a scalable illustration then you can learn Inkscape and use all the image material you already created using GIMP.
Print or Web?
Some books focus on images for print without explaining that images for the Web are different. Beginning GIMP explains both and explains the difference between printing at home and sending print to a professional printer. I have not found anything missing from the book.
The subtitle of the book is
From Beginner to Professional and Beginning GIMP includes enough for a professional photographer or Web designer. The book does not make you a professional, practice, imagination, and customer service make you a professional. The practice is easy; go through the book several times with different sets of images featuring landscapes and people. You want to practice the techniques so that you will not have to think about the techniques when you have a customer's image in front of you.
Your imagination improves when you no longer have to think about how you can create an effect. Practice helps you see all the possibilities and Beginning GIMP shows you what to look at. Read, practice, read, practice, then practice, practice, practice. Along the way you can convert your current collection of digital snaps into an album of impressive images.
Buy Beginning GIMP, grab some images and step through the book trying out everything. If you are not in a rush, there is a third edition on the way: