This week's Free Software Application of the Week is GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a free image editor. This is probably one of the most popular free (as in freedom) software applications out there. Even computer-literate people who have no idea what libre software is have probably heard of GIMP. It's quite famous - and its fame is well-earned.
GIMP can do so many things, people have written entire books about it. Since this is a review, not a tutorial, I won't try to describe everything it does. I'd consider myself to be an "average" user of GIMP - i.e. I don't use it all the time as part of my job or hobby, just when the situation calls for it. So, this is my opinion of GIMP, based on what I've had to use it for.
Once you understand the basics, you can do some very powerful edits with GIMP. To give you an idea of what you can do, I'll walk you through how I edited this meme using GIMP.
I started out with only the image labeled "original." I wanted the image to display the original version above the fixed version, so I selected the entire image (Ctrl+A), copied it (Ctrl+C), then pasted it (Ctrl+V). That created a new floating selection. I wanted this to become its own layer, so I right clicked the floating selection in the Layers window, and clicked "To New Layer." Layers in GIMP are just like layers in Photoshop - if you don't know what either of those are, then read this. Then, I went to Image->Canvas Size, and set the canvas height to slightly more than double its current value. That resized the entire canvas, without stretching its contents.
Next, I used the Move Tool to move the pasted layer all the way to the bottom of the canvas, and I moved the original image slightly down, to make room for the labels. Also, since I didn't want to make any edits to the original image, I locked its pixels in the Layers window. I then added the labels ("Original" and "Fixed") in their respective positions using the Text Tool, and centered them horizontally using the Alignment Tool.
Then it was time to start editing the photograph itself. I wanted to erase "Socialism:" on the sign on the left, the "FREE" in "FREE PEOPLE", the "TPUSA" in "WWW.TPUSA.COM", and "REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IS THEFT." I could've used the eraser tool, but that would've left white background behind, when I wanted to fill the letters in with the same background that surrounds them. So, I used the Fuzzy Select Tool to select each individual letter for each one, then use a GIMP plugin called Resynthesizer to fill them in. GIMP has a plugin system, that allows you to add features without modifying the original source code. Resynthesizer is the plugin I use the most. I made a tutorial for Resynthesizer a month ago, that shows how it works.
Anyways, I used that to "erase" the text, and make it look like it was never there. For the green sign, the outline of the word "FREE" was still visible, so I used the Smudge Tool to blend the different shades of green together. Then, I added "SURPLUS VALUE IS THEFT" on the right sign, using the Text Tool (which lets you change the font, so I chose a font that matched the original), and rotated it to match the rotation of the sign using the Rotate Tool. I did the same with "POOR" in "POOR PEOPLE," and "LENIN" in "WWW.LENIN.COM". For the sign on the left, it was a bit trickier, since the sign is tilted away from the camera. I added the text like normal, but this time, I used the Perspective Tool to tilt the text to match the sign, instead of just rotating it.
You're probably thinking, "Why would you put so much effort into making one meme?" Well, I'm a perfectionist, and I had nothing better to do that night. But, it came in handy, since I can use it to show off what GIMP can do.
So, that's a very small taste of the editing power of GIMP. I have to say, I never thought I would find editing images fun, but it is fun when you're using GIMP. Everything just makes sense. That's one of the great things about FLOSS programs like GIMP - it's made by the users of the program, so everything makes sense from the perspective of the user.
There are a couple of criticisms I have, though. I don't think the Scissors Select Tool works very well - I've used the equivalent in Photoshop, and I prefer the Photoshop version. But, the Foreground Select Tool does work well, so I'll usually use that instead when I need to cut something out. Secondly, the drawing features are pretty limited. Then again, GIMP is designed for image editing, not drawing - if you want to do digital drawing or painting, you should be using another program.
And that's it for this week's Free Software Application of the Week. What should I review next week? Let me know in the voting thread (non-onion link). Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all next Monday!