Ravi writes "Any one who has had the opportunity to manipulate images would be aware of Adobe's Photoshop - considered to be the market leader in image manipulation software. But with its high price tag, buying Photoshop is akin to putting strain on your bank balance. What is interesting is that there is a very popular free alternative to Photoshop in GIMP. For those in the dark, GIMP is a state of the art image manipulation software which runs on multiple architectures and OSes and which is released under the GNU free License (GPL). I have been using GIMP exclusively for touching up images for many years now and it has met all my graphics manipulation needs." Read the rest of Ravi's review
Unfortunately, for a beginner who is taking his first baby steps in GIMP, the interface might feel a bit kludgy and he/she might need some hand holding. This is where a book related to Gimp gains prominence. I recently came across this book called "Beginning GIMP - From Novice to Professional" authored by Akkana Peck. Divided into 12 chapters and 6 appendices, this book aims to cover the whole gamut of features found in Gimp.
In the first chapter, the author takes the reader through an in-depth tour of Gimp interface. This chapter introduces various dialogs,windows and configuration options that play an important part while working on ones images in Gimp. Even though I was conversant with most of the features of Gimp, I found this chapter impart a very good understanding of Gimp interface which is imperative for putting this software to productive use.
But it is not enough if one jumps right into editing images. It is important to have a good understanding of the various image formats used, their pros and cons as well as situations where different formats are ideal to use. The second chapter of this book titled "Improving Digital Photos" explains just that. The author further shows the image settings in Gimp which helps one to optimize the image while saving to disk as well as tips which could be very useful for photography buffs such as color correction, viewing the histogram to aid in bringing clarity to an image, rotating the image, fixing red eye and so on.
One of the most useful features of any graphics suite worth its name is its support for Layers. In Gimp, it is possible to save different images in layers. The third chapter of this book deals exclusively in giving an introduction to the concept of Layers and how it can be put to use in Gimp. At the end of the chapter, the author also explains how to create simple Gif animations.
Gimp has a great collection of tools at par with any other graphics suite in the market. These tools form the life line of any graphics artist in aiding his creations. In the subsequent three chapters , the author provides a detailed explanation of all these tools and how they could be put to use. Almost all the tools are covered in these three chapters and the author even provides the steps in creating images using these tools which gives it a practical touch to the whole narration.
In the seventh chapter titled Filters and Effects, one gets to know about the rich set of filters and scripts which are bundled with Gimp. There are hundreds of filters and effects categorized into three sections of Filters, Python-Fu and Script-Fu and most of them are described in this chapter with the aid of relevant examples.
From the 8th chapter onwards, the author turns to explain the more advanced concepts which pertain to graphics editing, knowing which, differentiates an expert from a beginner. Concepts such as color manipulation, compositing, masking and the different layer modes are described in detail with the aid of examples.
One of the biggest advantages a Gimp user has is the capability to create his own scripts in Gimp which allow him to accomplish complex tasks with the click of a button. Gimp scripts and plug-ins can be created using various languages like python, perl or C. But it also has its own scripting language called Script-Fu which also simplifies the process of creating scripts. And not surprisingly, there are hundreds of scripts bundled with the default installation of Gimp which makes it a viable option for creating complex graphical effects with ease. The 11th chapter of this book titled "Plug-ins and Scripting" gives an introduction to creating ones own scripts using different languages including script-fu. But I found this chapter to be more useful for a person who is interested in creating plug-ins than the normal users.
The final chapter of this well illustrated book deals with topics which couldn't fit in any other chapters such as tips on configuring Gimp to use the scanner and printer. There is a section which gives details of various resources found on the web which could be used to further enrich ones knowledge on using Gimp.
All along, the author gives interesting tit-bits on various aspects of image creation and modification which would be eye openers for most people who are getting introduced to the art of graphics manipulation. Reading the book, I was able to get valuable insights into different aspects of image editing such as antialiazing, hinting text and such, which plays an important part in creating good graphics.
In relevant sections, the author has provided important details which are highlighted in a bright vibrant color which makes reading this book a pleasant experience.
Many might wonder why some one would take time and efforts to write a book on Gimp when Adobe's Photoshop is considered the dominant leader in the graphics market. But the truth is Gimp enjoys a wider user base than all the other non-free graphics manipulation products combined as it is bundled by default on all Linux/Unix distributions worth their name. Considering that Gimp has also been ported to Windows and Mac OSX coupled with its hard to beat price (it is a free software released under GPL) and excellent features at par with any other professional graphics suite, this software has become a viable option for any one interested in developing graphics for the Web. And I found this book to contain relevant information which could be invaluable in ones journey into the fascinating world of image manipulation using GIMP.
You can purchase Beginning GIMP - From Novice to Professional from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.