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GIMP means GNU Image Manipulation Program. It was first released in 1996 by two students from Berkeley University and it has been getting better and more widely used ever since. This freely distributed program is used for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It offers all the basic and many of the advanced features of applications like Adobe Photoshop: layers, channels, paths, different painting tools, etc. so it can be a perfect tool for both beginners and professionals.

As GIMP creators say, this software “is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

GIMP is mainly written and developed under X11 on UNIX platforms, but since basically the same code can be run on both Windows and Mac OX, this application is available for almost every operating system.

Features and Capabilities
This is only a very quickly thrown together list of GIMP features from www.gimp.org. You can also have a look at the illustrated features overview.

Painting
o Full suite of painting tools including Brush, Pencil, Airbrush, Clone, etc.
o Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools for high quality anti-aliasing
o Extremely powerful gradient editor and blend tool
o Supports custom brushes and patterns

System
o Tile based memory management so image size is limited only by available disk space
o Virtually unlimited number of images open at one time

Advanced Manipulation
o Full alpha channel support
o Layers and channels
o Multiple Undo/Redo (limited only by diskspace)
o Editable text layers
o Transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear and flip
o Selection tools including rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, free, fuzzy
o Foreground extraction tool
o Advanced path tool doing bezier and polygonal selections.
o Transformable paths, transformable selections.
o Quickmask to paint a selection.

Extensible
o A Procedural Database for calling internal GIMP functions from external programs as in Script-fu
o Advanced scripting capabilities (Scheme, Python, Perl)
o Plug-ins which allow for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters
o Over 100 plug-ins already available

Animation
o Load and save animations in a convenient frame-as-layer format
o MNG support
o Frame Navigator (in GAP, the GIMP Animation Package)
o Onion Skin (in GAP, the GIMP Animation Package)
o Bluebox (in GAP, the GIMP Animation Package)

File Handling
o File formats supported include bmp, gif, jpeg, mng, pcx, pdf, png, ps, psd, svg, tiff, tga, xpm, and many others
o Load, display, convert, save to many file formats
o SVG path import/export
Much, much more!

GIMP is part of the GNU Project – a world of free software where everybody works together contributing to the development of the product they use and there is no distinction between developers and users. So please, if you like this software, consider helping your fellow user or contributing your time towards development of the GIMP website or software as a payment for it.

We would also like to know what do you think about this product and the free software initiative. Let us know – leave a comment below.