The Artist’s Guide to GIMP, by Michael J. Hammel

by Peter

I have written about GIMP (The GNU Image Manipulation software) earlier, in a review of The Book of GIMP. GIMP is a full-featured and free alternative to the excellent Adobe Photoshop, and (not surprisingly) one of the world’s most popular open source projects. The GIMP is a very impressive image editor, but not the easiest editor to use.

Having used both GIMP and Photoshop, I think it is fair to say that Photoshop still has the edge and is the more advanced of the two, but GIMP is not far behind. And for many users of image editing programs, myself included, GIMP is probably more than advanced enough. I am not an artist: I basically use GIMP for pictures and images on my websites.

Artist's Guide to GIMPHowever, The Artist’s Guide to GIMP, with the subtitle «Creative Techniques for Photographers, Artists, and Designers», has shown me how much more one can actually do with GIMP with a bit of effort. In his beautiful and excellently designed book, Michael J. Hammel, illustrates how a number of different image editing processes can be carried out with GIMP in a sensible yet very interesting and creative manner.

The Artist’s Guide to GIMP is about GIMP 2.8, the most recent version. The first few pages show the numerous features of GIMP, but Hammel quickly moves on to the more interesting stuff: layers, modes, and selections; where the action is. From chapter 2 – Photographic Effects – and beyond, this is a tour de force!

For obvious reasons, chapter 3, Web Design, and chapter 5, Type Effects were the most relevant for me. Both were good and quite useful for me. However, while they are solid and well-written, perhaps a little too much time is spent on things that many web designers may prefer to do with the new effects in CSS3. That said, both these chapters are solid and useful and covered ground that was unfamiliar to me.

The remaining chapters – the 4th about Advertising and Special Effects, and the final chapter about Creative Inspiration are good too, but not quite as useful to me personally. But many readers will love them – they contain lots of very useful insights and helpful tips.

Overall, I liked The Artist’s Guide to GIMP and found it very useful. The step-by-step instructions and explanations are helpful, and the tutorials are good. The book is well-organized, and covers both beginner and fairly advanced subjects – both easy-to-do-fixes and fairly intricate, time-consuming and elaborate techniques requiring considerable vision. It is a very useful and good guide to the powerful technological wizardry that is GIMP.

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