Chapter 1. Getting Started

Table of Contents
Where to Get the GIMP


The GIMP is the "GNU Image Manipulation Program." The name is more descriptive than most because it tells you that the program is released under the GNU Public License (meaning it's free to use and free to modify), and that it's a program for modifying or creating images.

This tutorial is highly informal, and is a walk-through of some fairly basic things that can be done with the GIMP. I hope this task-oriented tutorial will be more helpful to people than a more formal structurally oriented introduction. The layout of this paper does mean that it's necessary to start at the beginning and follow along, since each section builds on the previous one and assumes you have the knowledge acquired there. Perhaps it will be useful as a reference source after the first run-through - I hope so.

If you find the spelling in this tutorial a little unusual ("colour," "dialogue"), put it down to my being Canadian. I've lived in the U.S. for seven years and at work I spell American, but on my own time I cling to the few things that still make me a Canadian. Of course, this may just be an excuse for not using the spell checker because you won't know the difference between mispelled words and Canadian spellings. :-)

To answer one of the more frequently asked questions I get, the window manager I use is IceWM with the "sortofaqua" theme: it's responsible for the appearance of the borders around the screen shots.

Currently there are pre-compiled binary versions of the GIMP available for at least Linux on the x86 platform and Windows. A Mac port is in progress, but apparently not too solid. If you're downloading it for Windows, look for v1.2.3 - the previous port to Windows was unstable.

The program the GIMP is most commonly compared to is Adobe's Photoshop. I've never used Photoshop, but conversations with a good friend who has used it for many years have revealed that the GIMP has most of Photoshop's features, and it has a much more powerful scripting interface (using Lisp or Perl). Font/text support isn't as good, but I've been fairly happy with what's available - if scalable fonts are available. True Type fonts are definitely a plus, although they remain something of a challenge to support under Linux.