For those of you who visit TeraTalks regularly you know I’m a self-educated graphic designer wannabe, and if it were not for a few inherited genes that muck around with my color perception I could dispense with the wannabe in my self-ascribed title.
My Mac is loaded up with all the graphic design tools needed to make a career in the industry. All I need is more talent and fewer color blind genes. Neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers ask me what tools I prefer and I usually start with Photoshop because that’s the industry standard. Then I tell them the price tag whereby you pay Adobe x-dollars a month for life, and they respond with, “What else you got?”
Fortunately, Mac users have plenty of graphic design tools from which to choose; the good ones come with a price tag but if your budget comes with no money then GIMP could be just what you need to get started. GIMP has been around forever and priced right at free.
As you can see, GIMP looks a bit like Photoshop circa 1999, but there is a charcoal option to bring the look and feel into the 21st century. What you get for free is a decent paint and drawing tool that can retouch photos and images, good for designers and photographers on a tight budget.
GIMP is not Photoshop, of course, but more Photoshop-like with many of the same tools and functions which lets you– assuming you have the proper talent, maybe a bit of experience, and are not blessed with a colorblind gene, to create or transform images that match what most Photoshop users can create.
One aspect of GIMP I like is the ability to keep all the tools– palettes in Photoshop– on a single page so they’re always visible and usable with a click. The list of features is long and a bit unwieldy and anything but intuitive, but that makes GIMP a good way to start a graphic designer career without much money. A Mac and GIMP can take you a long way.
GIMP’s toolsets are not sparse, either, despite the lack of a price tag. You’ll see the familiar basic tools to manipulate images, including brushes, color manipulation, filters, layers and everything else that makes modern 21st century graphic design and photo editors so valuable.
The app can handle plugins, extensions, and more, plus it’s cross platform. That means there’s a GIMP version for Windows and Linux. GIMP has been around forever in computer years, dating history back to the mid-1990s. Documentation is available in 16 languages besides English, plus there’s a User Guide and Tutorials online.
Is GIMP easy to learn? Nope. Like Photoshop and most competitors, there is a steep learning curve, but the open source status makes the app a good way to determine if graphic design or image editing is in your future without having to invest in Adobe’s quarterly profits.