I love photography, and I love making art with my photographs! I don’t have a lot of extra money sitting around the homestead, though, so I decided about a year ago to download a free program called GIMP to do my editing, and want to tell you about it.
* Below is a photo I edited in GIMP. It is actually 2 photos combined. Neat, huh?
GIMP is a free shareware program, created and edited by it’s users. It is free, but one of the biggest complaints is it’s usability by a novice. I couldn’t figure out how to do anything in it since I had never worked with layers and histograms or anything like them before, so I would really recommend a book if you decide you want to try this program. I ended up buying “Beginning GIMP, From Novice to Professional” to Akkana Peck off of Amazon.com and it has been very good. She does a really good job explaining the basic functions in GIMP, but she left out information on what else is available as far as downloading brushes and backgrounds. I had to learn how to save them into GIMP on my own, but it has been well worth the effort to learn!
*This photograph was done using the same horses, but I hand-painted the background layer and cropped the horses to stand out. This is where those fancy brushes are awesome!
One of the neat things about GIMP is that you can use brushes from Photoshop and many other programs that can easily be converted for use in GIMP. I have not yet made my own, but I have downloaded a large number to play with, and it’s amazing what you can do! As I learn, I plan to share here what I can do and how you can try it too, but if you want to strike out on your own, here is some information to get you started.
First, download the latest version of GIMP. Be sure to always check for security on a download so you don’t get a virus from an unreliable web-site. Here is a link for downloading GIMP from the place I used. Be sure to get the one for your operating system, either Mac or Windows. I will show you where I downloaded brushes later and how to save them. For now, just get the program, and look over the users manual, and possibly buy a book.
GIMP uses a weird layout for windows that takes some getting used to. Every picture you open gets it’s own window. I find doing mass edits to be a pain, but for single images it is great! You can paste a picture file as a layer under the layers menu when you want to use 2 images for combining, but I’m still learning the techniques for that.
*In this image, it’s almost the same as above, but I cut out a picture of my husband and inserted him between the layers. To do this, I had to open images as layers, but you can edit layers and move them up and down in the stack. Really neat!
Always edit a copy of your original photograph so you don’t accidentally ruin your only photo of something. Also, you may want an untouched image for new edits sometime, and working on copies means you always have that. Every time you make an edit on a photograph it degrades the quality some, especially in .jpg formats. There are other loss-less formats, but most users will want .jpg or .gif for use on websites or printing or even simple use on your computer.
Take time to familiarize yourself with the program, and do a little reading. I will continue to add information and tips as I learn them. Have fun!