January 4, 2001

Web review: Grok this - getting savvy with the GIMP

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
If you're into graphic design, image manipulation, photo-retouching, and the like, you already know that the GIMP is a godsend for visually creative Linuxers. It's got all the best features of Photoshop, and it's free. Now, you don't even have to buy a book to learn how to use it, thanks to Carey Bunks, the author of Grokking the GIMP.Grokking the GIMP is a full text, published on real paper and available through Amazon.com or at your local bookstore. But in the spirit of Open Source, the author and friends have graciously published the tome in its entirety at Gimp-savvy. In some ways, the online version of the book is better than the print. Most notably, the ability to click through on hyperlinked cross-references is fabulous whether you're boning up on a particular topic, or following a train of thought through the text.

"Grokking" goes deep into the subject matter, leaving little to the imagination. If you read the whole thing, you're going to learn cool stuff, like optimal video RAM, working with layers and "floats," selection tools, paths, masks, color blending, composites, rendering, and Web-centricity.

To boot, there's a short section devoted to other GIMP resources, and one containing a full set of keyboard shortcuts in case you've an aversion to using the mechanical rodent.

The book by itself makes the site more than worthwhile. But Gimp-savvy doesn't stop there. Equally as impressive is the reallllly beeg collection of public domain photographic images available for download. I've learned not to be immediately impressed by free graphics collections -- seems you get what you pay for most of the time. But these images are good enough to pay for -- shhh, don't tell.

They come from places like NASA, NOAA, and the FWS. The images are clear, bright, and interesting. You could really do something with these. Most of them are indexed according to keyword, but there are also quite a few random images that need indexing -- and if you feel froggy and have some free time, you can jump in and help with the job by providing keywords for them.

Before you leave, there's one more great resource. It's a collection of book recommendations for further learning about GIMP, and about image manipulation in general. There are annotated links to 34 books, including studies of Photoshop, airbrushing techniques, Web page design, and color harmony.

Go check out Gimp-savvy and let me know what you think. I'm always looking for other sites worthy of the weekly spotlight, so send me your suggestions, too, or post them on the discussion page.

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