Monday, March 21, 2011

The Pleasures of Upgrading a New PC - GIMP

The most work when you move into someplace new is making it your own.  Arranging the paintings on the wall, changing the carpets, and the drapes.  There is a very similar process going on when you get a new computer.  I am in the process of creating a workbench that I will be using for quite a while.

The first step was triaging all the old hardware and finding which laptops needed recycling.

The second step was installing the operating system, and the minimum software.

The third step was convincing PDF software to actually install and work.

The fourth step was installing the excellent IrfanView and beginning to get my graphics software settled (Link Needed)

Today it is the install of GIMP that I am attacking.

What is GIMP? To borrow from their web page, it is the GNU Image Manipulation Program.  That doesn't tell you much so we can break it down for you easy peasy!

GNU means it's Open Source and therefore free to download, use, and enjoy.
Image Manipulation Program means that basically you can use a picture as a canvas to change things, add text and drawings, change colors, move bits around.

GIMP is a "Free or Open Source Software" (FOSS) program that will let you do just about anything you can do in Photoshop.  It is not necessarily THE standard tool for graphics editing, Photoshop seems to own that title, but if I need to work on Photoshop, I need to pay for it and install software that snoops in the background to phone home and tell Adobe where I am.  Not really fond of that idea here... Privacy and all that.

I've never really progressed to the point where I need to shell out for Photoshop, and many graphics artists use it at a professional level in order to get their work done.  It is so complex that years later I still have to think how to do some subtle task, while to get some basic things done are fairly straightforward.

On the other hand, I had the experience recently to try to use Photoshop on its own on a professional workstation with no training.  I need the Photoshop for Dummies book... I'll admit it!

So to get Gimp installed on your PC, here is what you do:

1) Surf and let the page load.  If you want a somewhat more indepth idea of what GIMP can do for you, you can check out the features link and read for yourself.  I Grossly Oversimplified GIMP!

2) Select the orange on black link for Downloads.  (Halloween anyone?)  I'll forgive the colors, the software is worth the effort.

3) GIMP comes from the world of Linux and isn't directly supported by the project on Windows.  On the other hand, there's a handy package for you to download and I'm going to step you through it.  The link for download is the third link on the body of the page, but you can grab it from here until it's changed.  You may also want to grab the manual, again on the downloads page, but here's the direct link until it is changed for the English book...

4) When fully downloaded, launch the setup program.  You will be eventually presented with the GIMP Setup Program, and click Next, Next at the GNU General Public License, and Install Now button.

5) That is it.  It will present you with a helpful check box asking if you want to launch the program and a button that says "Done".   It took about a minute on my now becoming more trusty T60.

The program will launch, and load. It warns you that it will take some time, and it isn't kidding.  I'm glad for once they give you a little progress bar to tell you that it's loading because it takes more than a full minute here to load. 

At this point you will be presented with the "GNU Image Manipulation Program" main window, the "Toolbox" window and the "Layers, ..." window.  To close the program you click on the X Box at the upper right of the GNU window.   Alternately you can load in any picture and start to edit.   This is not your Grampa's Paint Program, its seriously powerful and if you need some pictures to edit, this is a good way to start.

I've been using it for years and frankly I don't know a third of the software.  I get things done, but in a lot of cases, I get things done by brute force.  You will want to read that manual that you downloaded at some point.

Also there are all sorts of extensions for The GIMP.  You can find them online, and since it is released under the GPL, you should be able to get them for free. 

If you can't "get the job done" with The GIMP, there's another piece of software called Inkscape that I'll be writing about shortly and show you... tomorrow.

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