In this article, we’ll look at how GIMP compares to Photoshop. For those who are unfamiliar with GIMP and Photoshop.
They are essentially programs used to alter or create digital art, including but not limited to digital photography. That is all there is to it. And if you already use Photoshop, keep reading because you could alter your opinion about what you’re doing.
Reasons why GIMP is better than Photoshop
GIMP is a free and open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP, in my opinion, is the greatest alternative to Adobe’s program, which needs a monthly membership fee that many people cannot afford.
|Price – Free||Price – US$9.99 / mo (PS and LR)|
|Faster Processing||More tools|
Whenever we talk about picture alteration and photo editing, Photoshop has been the industry standard for a very long time. Although it was released in 1990, Adobe is always working to improve the software’s functionalities and develop new tools to add to its arsenal of possibilities.
Many photographers enjoy the non-destructive process of Photoshop, which employs a wide range of choices that are nearly akin to artificial intelligence (AI) for some jobs. On top of all of that, there are tons of other tools that allow us to create, edit, and manipulate images in an almost limitless number of ways. The question is, can it beat GIMP?
What is GIMP?
To build GIMP, a group of programmers donates their time to create the finest free Photoshop alternative available. Aside from simple filters, Gimp contains virtually everything you’ll ever need to edit your photographs, and it’s just becoming better since it was initially released.
If you’re a photographer who doesn’t want or can’t deal with the price of renting a program to edit your photos, GIMP is the obvious alternative. For those who want to start using GIMP for free – totally and completely – there is nothing to stop them. The only investment one will have to make to start using GIMP is putting in the time to learn the software.
Photoshop and the one million dollars camp
As a result, Photoshop is perhaps Adobe’s most well-funded program, and/ or at least that is what Adobe wants you to believe. Photoshop has the resources, and the programmers working on it, to produce the next big tools and improvements that every photographer needs,
Even though Adobe puts a lot of money into Photoshop’s development, I cannot argue that the software isn’t great. Almost everything in this application works perfectly, and the additional tools are largely helpful. The application is constantly evolving, adding new features and refining existing ones.
The nicest thing about Photoshop, in my opinion, is that it has been used by 9 out of 10 professional photographers who use Photoshop, and as a result, the industry speaks the same language when it comes to image editing.
You can send a Photoshop file to China and your editor there will be able to see it, alter it, more importantly, work on it and send it back.
Here, it’s also important to note the program’s connectivity with other Adobe products, which may be quite helpful for those who need to use more than one tool to edit their work. It can begin in-camera, be transferred to Lightroom, then Photoshop for some tweaks, returned to Lightroom, then exported to Illustrator where you can be creative before returning to Photoshop to wrap things up. The possibilities are endless.
You can do all of this without the hassle of constantly storing different versions or constantly converting your files to a strange extension.
From perfect integration with Bridge, Lightroom, Premiere, Camera Raw (which is an integral part of Photoshop now). A professional cannot ask for more when the subject is the ease of use of Adobe’s ecosystem.
As for Photoshop tools, I could go on for days, but I’m guessing you already have some idea of what I’m talking about.
GIMP Strengths, community training camp
On the opposite lane, we have GIMP, which does not have big trucks of money backing up on their headquarters every day; in fact, they do not even have a headquarters, as far as I know.
This project was entirely established by a community of developers who contributed their knowledge and volunteered their time to make the software a success. And certainly, for me, this is one of the most essential aspects of GIMP: a community of individuals working together to make the world a better place for others. Is there anything that you don’t like about this?
Even Though you might think that GIMP is a carbon copy of Photoshop, that is not the case. For sure there are a lot of things inside GIMP that were inspired by Adobe’s software, but GIMP also has a lot of things that it does differently and even better than Photoshop.
Another advantage of GIMP is its portability. GIMP can be used on any computer by installing it on an external hard drive. So, let’s say you’re bored in the public library, and you think. I could edit those photos from yesterday’s photo walk, after all. Well, GIMP gives you all the tools you need to do just that. In contrast to Photoshop, which can only be used on two different computers at the same time.
Photoshop users will argue that you can take PS with you everywhere since it has an app version for Ipad and Android devices, but I will say that this version is not the same as the computer one, and you still have to have one more device to take with you everywhere. I know that for a fact, my phone cannot handle Photoshop use, so if I want to use it on the road I will have to bring one of my tablets with me.
Another great thing for free is the open-source nature of GIMP’s code, anyone can inspect it and see if the program is doing anything shady in the background. This way, the community can audit and suggest changes for privacy functionalities and possible security breaches. On the other hand, you will have to trust Adobe’s words that their programs are airtight secure, and they do not breach your privacy in any way.
GIMP, the real fight
The first thing about using GIMP as your image editor is the portability options. You can use it in all major systems. GIMP offers options for Windows, macOS, and Linux users. As I said before you can use GIMP installed on an external drive and use it with any computer that you have available, breaking the barrier to have your computer with you all the time to be able to do the job.
It has a much smaller download file than Photoshop and does not need any kind of sign-up to download it, just click and go.
I will not go on how to install GIMP on your computer, since this is a pretty straightforward process for most users, click next all the time, except if you are a Linux user, and if you are using Linux you already know what and how to do things,
After the installation, you will open the program and probably be lost on the interface, but fear nothing because we can arrange most of the dialog boxes to make the software look the way you feel more comfortable.
But after some house cleaning dialog boxes repositioning, you can get pretty familiar looks out of GIMP’s interface.
This is the way I have organized my window and this is an ongoing process, once you get comfortable with the layout you can always change it, and it will keep the last modification you have made on the layout.
GIMP has a great variety of tools for your image editing needs, not all the tools are a perfect Photoshop counterpart, but for the most part, you are covered and will be able to execute a good job. For most advanced and automated actions I think GIMP is still behind Photoshop, but that is completely understandable since Adobe had a huge team of programmers working on AI tools constantly.
However, for the beginner image editors out there, you can go along away using only what GIMP has available for you.
Now let’s see if GIMP can keep up with Photoshop, and we try to make a simple retouch, nothing major, just blemishes and colors. I will be using only the tools available on the program, nothing more.
Opening images, creating or duplicating layers are simple operations and absolutely nothing different from any other program. Since GIMP doesn’t support non-destructive editing for now, yeah, we do not have adjustment layers on GIMP yet.
So the approach for editing or retouching has to be more old schooler, but still very efficient. And this method is doing basically each process on its own layer, this way if you mess up something you can go back to a previous good stage.
One common thing about retouching is dealing with blemishes on the skin, and having to reconstruct parts of the skin while at the same time making it look natural. Luckily GIMP has capable tools for doing this. Cloning and healing tools are present on GIMP’s utility belt, and you can use it as you would in any other decent image editor app.
After a couple of clicks and minutes with the Heal tool, we have a pretty good base to continue our edit. Super simple and had no problems at all until here.
From here, it’s just a matter of putting in the work and time to get good results. To deal with the blotches I will bring the dodge and burn tools in GIMP to control how dark or light certain parts appear and to equalize the whole image. Here I started to feel the need to use adjustment layers. In my normal workflow, my dodge and burn process uses curves on an adjustment layer, this way I get all the control I need. But I guess I was able to make good work with the Dodge and Burn Tool available on GIMP.
Some more layers, with saturation, reds, and contrast adjustment and we have a final product done. All these adjustments were put in a layer group and organized properly.
And here we can see the before and after.
I would say that GIMP packs a lot of punch inside the hood and if you can use it as your professional image editing software you will have most of the tools needed for the job. It is a bit different from Photoshop, but nothing that will some time using the program can solve.
Aiming only on the bigger part of the pie, Photoshop is available for Windows and macOS use, the use on IPADos, that’s it! The IPADos version is good but not to the same extent as the full computers versions of the software.
If you are a Linux user and need to use Adobe products, you will have to rely on ways slightly out of the road to do this. Click here to know more.
To use Photoshop you will have to pay for its subscription, and you can install it on two computers. Making life somewhat difficult when you don’t have your computer on you all the time.
Photoshop never leaves anyone down when there are a variety of ways for doing the same thing, and that is one of the beauties of the program. There are several ways to do the same process, and you have to develop your way of doing things, sweet!
But for some young photo editors this can be overwhelming, not knowing where to start can slow you down significantly, and steep learning curves can sometimes be difficult to tackle.
If you are just like me, used to working with Photoshop, retouching this image is a no-brainer, super simple to do this with all the resources available on Photoshop. As I stated too many times in this article, having the adjustment layers make my life so much easier, that I almost forgot how to work without them.
The image below shows the result achieved on GIMP versus the result achieved on Photoshop, just for a simple comparison.
As you can see, there is not much difference between the two images, the major difference was in the processes to achieve it. Which is a clear sign of how capable GIMP is.
To edit this photo on GIMP took me around 15 minutes from start to finish, I’m not used to the program and where everything is, also having to learn the circuit on the fly slowed me down a bit. In Photoshop, it was around 5 minutes or less, I know where everything is, the shortcuts are natural to me, so nothing more than the expected regarding time.
GIMP and Photoshop trading punches
These two pieces of software go head-to-head, sometimes it’s hard to pick a winner. But I will try to be the most impartial referee that I can be here.
|Easy to Use||Winner||–|
|Advanced selection tools||–||Winner (Auto-select)|
|Advanced cloning tools||–||Winner (Content-Aware)|
As you can see on the chart above, GIMP and Photoshop go horn to horn. In some aspects one software is better, in others aspects the rival is superior. For sure if you look at this chart above without any context it is hard to see what it means.
And the context here is completely free software fighting a multi-million industry standard option. There’s no denying that this is a great thing for the photo editing community, after all, we have a great option to work without worrying about some bills at the end of the year.
* Does not need a powerful computer to run.
** Work perfectly with Adobe Products
After the fight: GIMP and Photoshop
If you ask me today: Are you going to switch to GIMP?
My sad answer will be no. Not now. For the way I work and how I like to do things, Photoshop serves me perfectly, even if I have to pay. I work together with other photographers, video and photo editors, and everyone uses the same platform to develop the work makes troubleshooting problems much more easily.
But, this is the biggest reason I will not jump boats now. I know that if you spend the time learning the ins and outs of GIMP you will be using it like Photoshop in no time. Further, with a community so engaged and willing to listen to photographers, and develop solutions for their asked needs, I think the future brings bright things for GIMP and GIMP users.
I will leave GIMP on my computer from now on, and from time to time I will develop my work with both software. Let’s see what I can accomplish with this, maybe I will become a valuable tool in my arsenal, or maybe it will kill my need for Photoshop, time will tell. The most important thing is GIMP earned my total respect.
And you? Share in the comment your GIMP experiences, or your Photoshop sad stories.