Review: Edit, draw, retouch, resize, and much more with good ol' GIMP | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

Review: Edit, draw, retouch, resize, and much more with good ol' GIMP

Edit your digital images with the latest version of an old but gold favorite.

GIMP began life in the 1990s as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and the free, open-source image editing tool has evolved in both complexity and ease of use alongside the personal computer, itself. The latest version, GIMP 2.8, maintains the program's legacy as a powerful and up-to-date, yet totally free image editor. GIMP is modular in appearance and structure and accepts all kinds of plug-ins and tools. It's a paint and drawing tool, a photo retoucher, and a batch processing and conversion tool, all in one, with sophisticated features like layers, filters, and effects. You can script virtually anything GIMP does, too. But don't be put off by GIMP's considerable talents: Not only is its layout logical, intuitive, and even attractive (in a form-follows-function way) but it also comes with tons of assistance; from multiple Help files (Help; Context Help; User Manual) and considerable online resources such as a forum, FAQs, documentation, tips, source code, and much more. GIMP 2.8 requires Windows XP or later; we ran it in 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium SP1.

Wilbur, GIMP's world-famous cartoon mascot, greeted us when we launched the app. On first run, GIMP looks for data files, queries plug-ins, and attends to other housekeeping before actually launching the program, which can take a while. GIMP kept us informed of each step, tracking the procedure with a green progress bar. On subsequent occasions, GIMP loaded very quickly. GIMP's modular, dockable user interface saves desktop real estate by dividing functions among three separate, free-floating windows: a toolbox, a navigation and work panel, and a main window. We selected an image file, which also loaded quickly in GIMP's main window. We applied various tools, filters, and processing to our image, but we barely scratched the surface of what GIMP can do. The short answer to that question is, just about anything related to digital images.

GIMP is like similar long-running open-source projects in which the skill and commitment of its participants yield freeware with features, capabilities, and support that even expensive packages find it hard to match.

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