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The GIMP Revisit

A while back I mentioned about The GIMP being a worth open source alternative to Photoshop. Yes, it is very good and I have used it even for video production. There will be doubters who will still sing praises of Photoshop and not understand that they are encouraging software piracy. So on with the show of encouraging users to pick up free/open source alternatives.

The one issue I have (which I consider a limitation) is native Mac OS support, or rather the lack of it. In order to use it you are required to install X11 to utilise this app. However, I did not find it stable and often it crashed out for me on my MacBook Pro quite regularly - a problem which I never faced when using on Linux or Windows.

However, it has come to my attention that some Samaritans have saved the day for me and published McGIMP 2.8, which is GIMP 2.8 ported natively for Mac OS X. I have had the pleasure of playing around with it and using it in single window mode.

Head over to Partha's Place (www.partha.com) for more information and to download it.

But, without want of sounding like an ambassador for the software (which I'm not by the way) I would like to remind you that there are other alternatives (free and open source) that may suit your needs. So here goes...

Desktop

  1. Krita - Swedish for "chalk" or "crayon" it was formerly part of KOffice and has grown into a well designed tool for sketching and painting. (Targeted for Linux)
  2. Paint.NET - A tool I previously mentioned. This was initially intended to be a replacement for MS Paint but has grown into a decent open source image editor. (Targeted for Windows)
  3. Pixia - Initially created for anime/manga it has become quite a decent image editor. Originally Japanese there is also an English port being maintained. (Targeted for Windows)
  4. Pixen - A true dream tool for the pixel pusher. A pretty good image editor, but mainly for animation. (Targeted for Mac OS X)
  5. Seashore - Based on The GIMP to run natively on Mac OS X Cocoa framework. It is not as feature packed as The GIMP, but serves the basic functionality quite well in addition to the  advanced features such as layers, gradients and textures.
  6. Xara Xtreme - Okay, so it's not exactly a photo editing system. It's more of a heavy duty general purpose graphics system. And it's good. It is currently available for Unix platforms (including Linux and FreeBSD) with a Mac OS X flavour currently in development.
  7. Serif Photoplus Starter Edition - This is a cut down version of Serif Photoplus, which is a pretty decent photo editing program. In addition to fixing and enhancing photos you can also produce web animation. Oh yes, it does have layers so it's not that cut down. (Targeted for Windows)
  8. PhotoFiltre - I have had the pleasure of using this image retouching program. It is a no frills application which allows you to concentrate on the necessary functionality to apply simple or advanced filters. (Targeted for Windows)
  9. ChocoFlop - This is a pretty decent image editor on Mac OS X based on Apple's CoreImage technology. Unfortunately it has been discontinued by the developer, but is still freely available.
  10. PhotoPos Pro - This used to cost $59.90 and is now free. It offers the expected image enhancement capabilities as well as special effects and layers. (Targeted for Windows)
  11. Darktable - Their website says it all: darktable is an open source photography workflow application and RAW developer. A virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers. (Targeted for Mac and Linux)
  12. And more... Spending more time scouring the Internet than I have will reveal other tools.

Online

  1. Picnik - Born out of a partnership with Flickr it has basic image capabilities plus layers and effects. Unfortunately it has been discontinued by the developers.
  2. Splashup - A lot more powerful than Picnik and resembles Photoshop in many ways. It also integrates with many photo sharing websites.
  3. Adobe Photoshop Express - Okay, so it's not powerful like Photoshop/GIMP. But it's good to know that Adobe offers a nice web-based tool for the basic image editing needs that comes with all tools and free.
  4. Pixlr Editor - With an interface like Photoshop CS it is very easy to get to grips with this. It has an arsenal of features to work with and I really enjoyed using it.
  5. Aviary -This is a pretty decent suite of software for image editing and vectors, etc. Unfortunately, this has now been retired. At the time of writing they are currently available, but the clock is ticking till it gets fully removed. They are delivering the software for different platforms (mobiles and widgets).
  6. SumoPaint - This is my favourite web-based image editor, which is modeled around Photoshop's interface. Much like Pixlr Editor it is feature packed (photo editing, drawing tools, filters, etc). If you're willing to fork out €19 for the Pro version you can download it and run it locally as it uses Adobe Air (including other features)
  7. There's oodles more scattered around the web that can be discovered via a search. Many I have encountered just don't deliver the amount of functionality compared to the online alternatives mentioned here.
Mac tips: The Preview application that is built into the OS is more than a viewer.  It is a capable annotation tool and works well for a Technical Support environment when needing to illustrate an issue. A good article exists over at UsingMac.com (www.usingmac.com/2008/1/25/preview-tutorial-embed-icon-into-stack-drawer)

Image browsers: Not exactly full blown image editors, there are many image browsers such as IrfanView and Google Picasa that comes with photo correction and does a decent job. So this may be more suitable for some.

As you can see, there's plenty on offer that may suit your graphic/design requirements. So have fun.

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