Camen Design Forum

GIMP vs Photoshop

append delete JJ

My skills in graphics editing are limited. I learned how to use Paint Shop Pro in the 90s when I was a kid, before Photoshop became insanely popular, and I never learned anything else.

Today I decided I'm going to try to teach myself some high end image editing software, PSP hasn't been cutting it, and I've never been too slick with it anyway.

So my question is, GIMP or Photoshop? How does GIMP compare to it? GIMP appeals to me more because its freely available. I've tried it a few times in the past, and I've also tried photoshop a few times as well, but I never really got into either of them.

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append delete #1. Kroc

Do you want a job out of it?

Yes: Photoshop.

No: GIMP.

That is all.

I also assume that you intend to pirate Photoshop, since it is £650 and the choice between £0 and £650 doesn’t seem to be anything other than obvious.

That’s your choice, but if you go ahead and pirate Photoshop and learn that, then be prepared to be tied to a product you don’t own and will forever battle with. It is never, ever worth it to go down the rabbit hole of having to pirate software because you are ignorant of the alternatives. It limits your choice of platforms, limits your range of your skill set and if you ever go into business, you’ve then tied yourself to spending £1800 a year on upgrades. Have fun.

append delete #2. JJ

No, I don't plan on making a career out of it. That wasn't really what I was asking.

I wasn't really posting this to help me make a decision. I have my mind set on GIMP. It's naturally more appealing to me because, like I said, it's freely available and I could always potentially have access to it if need be. Thus the knowledge and ability to use it are more pragmatically valuable than the ability to use Photoshop.

But I'm only wondering how it actually compares to Photoshop. Is there truly a gap in quality between them? Is there a noticeable difference? I guess you would say so based on your answer. What exactly is worse about it? or is it only considered worse to use because Photoshop is the expected and required standard to use in a professional setting?

append delete #3. Kroc

There is this common trait that people believe that they must go out and get the best, most complicated tool that is available and then torture themselves in learning it.

The best advice I can give you is to use the right tool for the job and do as much as possible with as little as is required.

Yes, there is a vast gap in capability between GIMP and PS but you, right now, are not within that realm of requiring that capability.

I started out with Paint Shop Pro 7 and used it until I had come to such keen knowledge of it that I was clearly aware I had finally surpassed its capability and upgraded to PSP10.

Don’t think of what PS _could_ do until such a time that you know that GIMP is no longer enough. Concern yourself with the actual art making rather than the flashiness of your tools. An artist picks and changes his tool according to what suits his subject best, rather than using the sledgehammer for all tasks.

append delete #4. theraje

I agree with Kroc in as far as GIMP is not as capable as Photoshop, but that it will be plenty for you to do some really good stuff. GIMP has a quirky interface, though I hear Photoshop isn't much better in that regard (don't know myself, as I can't afford any Adobe pay software).

But yeah, GIMP will do plenty. The ONLY way I would spring $800US for Photoshop is if I could use it to make that money back. As it stands, I can make money with GIMP. Then again, I don't do it professionally... but then, you don't plan to either, so... ;)

I don't have a feature comparison chart or anything, though, so there might be some earth-shattering, gotta-have-it feature I may be missing. I highly doubt it, though.

append delete #5. SpeedoJoe

According to the graphics people I know GIMP's usability is terrible compared to Photoshop.

append delete #6. JJ

"I started out with Paint Shop Pro 7 and used it until I had come to such keen knowledge of it that I was clearly aware I had finally surpassed its capability and upgraded to PSP10."

I know what you mean. I used Paint Shop Pro 5 for years, switched to PSP7 and then eventually PSP9 which is what I'm still using. After using a piece of software for so long, you start to notice its flaws. The reason I kept using it for so long is because I'm comfortable with its UI.

I think I'll be comfortable with GIMP, even if there is a gap in quality from the best of graphics editing software. I was really just curious about it.

GIMP does seem to have a weird interface though, hehe.

append delete #7. theraje

The reason most "graphics people" say GIMP is horrible is because they are used to Photoshop and its way of doing things. The two programs are probably almost equally daunting to someone who is used to neither.

In my experience, the Photoshop artists (and to some extent, digital artists in general) hate anything and everything that isn't what they normally use.

That said, GIMP is a bit convoluted, as far as UI. But I would say it is a step up from the likes of Paint.NET at least.

append delete #8. Jose Pedro Arvela

A slight note on GIMP's interface, in the next major stable version (2.8) it'll have a semi-major overhaul by making tool windows dock-able. It will also solve on of the biggest flaws in it by introducing layer groups, thus allowing for more organization. Besides that, Photoshop and GIMP are incredibly similar, regarding the interface. It is really easy to, for example, grab a Photoshop tutorial and use it on GIMP, even if making things differently to achieve such purpose.

append delete #9. Kroc

The biggest problem with Photoshop competitors is that they keep trying to be Photoshop.

Photoshop has a terrible, terrible UI that should not be copied. I get on much better with tools that have the imagination to do what’s best for themselves.

append delete #10. TorbjornLunde

GIMP isn't the only alternative to Photoshop.

On Mac Pixelmator and Acorn are both good alternatives. Not as powerful as Photoshop (or GIMP), but has more polished UI.

On Windows you have Paint.NET, which is free. Has some interesting UI-ideas, although it's not as polisehd as the Mac alternatives. In my experience the best alternative to Photoshop on Windows.

Another alternative is Pixel by Kanzelsberger. Seems to almost be able to compete with Photoshop on features.

@Kroc: True, but what way would be better? I've seen many attempts at different pixel-editor UI's, but those who differ a lot of Photoshop are usually even worse.

append delete #11. ThomasGC

I used PSP in the mid-90s and gave up on it when I got sick of the annual update-for-the-sake-of-it offers. Being in a transition between Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) for the past three years, I've adopted Gimp as my preferred graphics edit tool. The Linux version runs nicer, but the Windows vsn is reliable. The UI is a little quirky, but you get used to it and I don't find it hard to get things done. I use it mainly for my hobby of creating Google SketchUp models for the Google Earth 3D Buildings Layer, to produce photo textures for the models.

append delete #12. JJ

After using GIMP for a little while now, I can say it was really awkward getting used to the UI. But I'm getting more comfortable with it every time I use it. Actually, now that I've adjusted to the UI and memorized the hotkeys, I've stopped using PSP.

I've been reading up on GIMP 2.8 and it does sound pretty necessary. My main annoyance is the windows floating all over: If I don't have an image maximized and I misclick, I end up focusing a completely different window to foreground. It's not especially detrimental, but it could be better.

I've also been reading up on criticisms of GIMP. Most of the criticisms I've seen have to do with GIMP's lack of capability when it comes to non-destructive editing and >8-bit color channels. For the most part, these limitations wouldn't affect my own usage of GIMP.

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with it.

append delete #13. waccamawwild

Gimp can do anything windows does with extensions you can download!

append delete #14. pekman

Gimp is very usefull

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