Using the GIMP to Design

May 12, 2013 9:57 pm Leave your thoughts

RV35MM.COMA couple years ago, I tried to use the GIMP ( to edit my photography work. It was the open source alternative to Photoshop, unfortunately it was slow and the multi window display drove me crazy. I know it’s great when you have multi monitors, however using this on a laptop, the multi window display annoys me a lot.

Things have changed since then though. Since GIMP 2.8 there has been tremendous improvements with this tool, I think this is no longer just an alternative to Photoshop but another software choice based on what you want to do. I have been building my other blog RV35MM for the past two weeks (it’s launched 2 days ago) and I decided to use GIMP to create its art assets. So I’ll share with you some of the features and experience that would make me a Gimp loyalist :D.

Native OSX Application

The GIMP is now a native OSX application, by simply downloading the DMG and installing as any OSX application, I can start it straight away. In the previous stable versions I had to run Gimp through X11, which is quite cumbersome because none of the menus are integrated with the OS. Now all the GIMP menus are accessible from the OSX top bar just like any other native applications.

Single Window Mode

I love the single window mode as I do most of my work on my 13 inch MacBook Pro these days. Once I set the GIMP to use single window mode, it will preserve the option until I set otherwise. This functionality I think existed in 2.7.x but wasn’t really matured yet, 2.7.x were unstable releases anyway I think.

Creating the Website Header

RV35MM.comIn order to create the header I took the hero picture with my camera and process the image. I would used the usual actions such as resize, crop, curves, saturation and masking. At this point I have Photoshop, Corel Paintshop Pro X4 and GIMP to choose from. Fortunately I chose GIMP and I can tell you that creating the header image quite easy. The layer resizing works very well and much more intuitive than the older GIMP. The quality of the resized layer is on par with the two other tools.

The only problem that I can tell you is performance, the time taken to resize the layer is much longer than than that of Photoshop or Corel. I think this might have to do with hardware rendering. Hopefully in the future GIMP will support full hardware rendering for resizing, moving, etc.

Obviously the most important part is the result quality and in this department, GIMP does satisfy.

Creating the Background Texture

The background texture was a simple dark grey shade, however I needed some “noise” to give the website some variation. Plain dark grey would have been boring. Dark grey was the colour of the choice by the way as I think it will bring out the most of the photographs.

To generate the noise I simply fill a layer with the dark grey shade and apply the noise filter. This can be accessed from filters->noise->noise generator. I think the generated noise actually looks better than the one generate from Corel, or perhaps it was just easier to control. In any case way I’m glad that things like this works really fine.

About RV35MM

This new blog would be my place to share my work on photography, which is one of my passion apart from software engineering. Obviously I made this website responsive just as my previous article. Visit this site, you might find some inspiration since I posted the techniques, equipment and software that I use to produce the artworks.

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