Updated: March 30, 2012
In English slang, the word gimp used to denote football-challenged people in olden times, but now it is mostly used as the witty and surprisingly non-recursive acronym for an open-source image manipulation software called GIMP, all capitals. A great program, a poor man's alternative to payware stuff. But also a rich man's alternative. Why? Because you get plugins and scripts.
Like any self-respecting open-source project, GIMP prides itself at being extensible. Firefox has it, GIMP has it. Plugins are the smartest way of making something good better. You do not need to make any changes to core software, you just add extra stuff. For people who use GIMP for their art work, having some of these extras is exactly what they need. Let us explore.
Hundreds if not thousands of these are available at the GIMP Plugin Registry. This is your one stop-shop to greatness. Windows users will have to manually download extensions and place them into the plugins and scripts directories inside their user directory or into the program's installation folder. On Linux, things are easier, as you can grab these through your repository. For example, on my Ubuntu Maverick:
After this, power up GIMP and start enjoying yourselves!
Let's take a look at some of the finest examples now available.
This is a huge collection of effects all bundled into a single toolbox that will virtually replace all your available filters. To showcase the power of G'MIC, I used my Helicopter art gallery as the test bed. For example, you can create tiled and mirrored arrays of the original image, use all kinds of enhancement masks and effects, create 3D objects, and more.
Another stylish addition is the new National Geographic filter, which lets you create dramatic, safari-like images. In my experience, you get sharper, deeper colors, more exposure, better reflections. Kind of infuses your images with an outdoor glare that only looks good through a USD10,000 lens of some posh camera.
Another great filter is Diana Holga, which lets you create images in the likeness of Diana's work. All kinds of fancy tricks, some shadowing and blurring, some chromatic aberrations, whatever that means, and other sci-fi stuff. But the effects are stunning.
And there's so much more. For example, you can create images in the likeness of the famous Che Gevarra posters, use Technicolor palettes, 300 the movie style retro-grainy, washed-out color, slightly cartoonish This is Sparta effect, and more.
Now, to demonstrate how powerful all these extra plugins and scripts are, I took upon polishing an early image of an early prototype of my next 3D art model, created in Google SketchUp and rendered in Kerkythea. I am aiming at the same effect you may have encountered in the photographies of Soviet 50s or 60s planes, taken clandestinely with high-grain films, so they kind of appear blurry and aged and new at the same time. Anyhow, without spoiling my next project, here's a brief teaser preview, which demonstrates the awesomeness of GIMP's plugins. And my own skill.
You may like to take a look at all these:
Adding some extra plugins and scripts will make your GIMP work so much easier, and possibly take it to the next level of fun and quality. Today, you may be struggling with some of the filters and layer masks, trying to achieve just that effect you need. So why not ask the professionals for help? They've already provided you with a handsome arsenal of great tools, just use them. I sure know I will.
GIMP plugins and scripts enhance a superb program, making it so much more expensive, which for the price of zero money makes it all the more satisfying. Linux users will be most pleased, as they just need to run their package manager. Windows people will have to manually download the plugins, but it's not that complicated. But it is rewarding.
Many thanks to Ocky for the original inspiration!