The damned, freaky, beloved Gimp…
So, where does all of this start from? The user Raja (thanks for posting ) posted an interesting and stimulating comment on the Painting Programs for Linux article. I decided to answer this post and argument it. The post was:
Obviously you are a regular photoshop user and find the gimp’s layout difficult to get used to. But that doesnt make it difficult to manage for everyone. I have been using Gimp regularly and cant find my way around with photoshop. For those preferring the photoshop layout, there is gimpshop which you may want to try. I just feel this post is unfair about gimp with nothing concrete to back your opinion that gimp is less powerful than photoshop (apart from CMYK support, but seriously, how many of us need it in daily life?)
My answer was a really loooong post and now it became this article. It is a better choice to write an entire article about it, since it is a very hot argument for me! Hot, meaning that I always am in need of good graphic tools and that I always follow the Free Software panorama in itself!
Sorry Raja (seen Arjuna? ) but honestly I think that it is a fact that Gimp is not a perfect toy to play with. Gimp has an horrible layout first of all. C’mon, it’s really hard to use it. Why can’t it be all resumed into a single window? And why are all the buttons so large, even with the smaller theme enabled… If I want one of the Gimp’s windows to show me all the info it has, then I have to enlarge it a lot. Too much to handle it. Each window becomes extremely large on my MacBook 13″ (with geubuntu)… and almost unusable.
Also, why do I have to handle a thousand menus for each window? Isn’t a single damned user menu enough?? I can’t get why Gimp has to make it so difficult. I tried and use GimpShop for sometime but, hey, it just changes the menù entries. None of the layout problems are fixed, so I think it is useless!! What is it needed for? Boh… never got it.
Of course I WAS a regular photoshop user before entering the Free Software world, who wasn’t? ;P
In reality, I started with Paint Shop Pro. I’m always having hard times with Gimp’s layout, it is 99% of the Gimp’s lacks in my opinion. If the layout could become much more usable, than Gimp would have solved 99% of its problems, really. I’ve been using only Gimp and Krita and Pixel for 3 years now and still I cannot get used to Gimp. As I said, no possible learning curve IMHO. Sure, if you start with The Gimp, maybe… but even that way I believe you would find yourself much more confortable with a layout a-la-photoshop like krita’s or Pixel’s…
Luckily there is some WIP in the Gimp community to restyle its unusable and difficult interface. For example, there’s this entire page called Gimp UI Redisign, thanks God. And then there’s the brainstorming and honestly I think that this particular solution is a winner and I’d pay billions of dollar to see it created soon, dammit! It would be a real revolution but… these pages are there from a long time and still no real effort to translate anything in code has been done
What can I say? Just fantastic. Wonder if and when we’ll see a real Gimp from this mockup…
As for the functionalities, what can I say? PS comes packed with a lot of great filters for example, Layout options and properties that Gimp hasn’t. Some days ago I had to create a glowing aura around a picture. With PS? Layout –> something like layout effects (don’t remember anymore) and then add glow: you can completely set it as you like and see the result previewed on the REAL picture.
In Gimp? No option. If you want the backgroud to stay transparent, you can’t use, say, alien glow: it makes your background Black or of another filled color. Too bad, I can’t use this. To do it I have to :
1) select the picture,
2) expand the selection of some pixels
3) create a new layer
4) fill the selection with the color I like for the glowing effect
5) select none
6) bring the layer in background
7) apply to this layer a gaussian blure.
Are you joking? Seven versus one step? And for which result? For something that is going right on the junk if I decide to change a little the form of the image to have the glow effect, because the glow itself is not an effect, it is an artifact I created. So if I modify the form of the glowing image, than I have to delete the glowing layer and repeat all 7 passages. Crazy.
Also, do not forget that all of these filters do not show a real preview on the picture. If you are lucky, those filters has a tiny ugly window with a zoomed preview… or a little preview instead. Impossible to understand. So I have to apply each time the filter to see its real effect in the entire composition and decide if I keep it or throw it. WHY!? Argh! Couldn’t a filter show the preview on the original window of the image too (or only into the real window of the image)?
These are only two problems. Wanna know others? Got an whole list, man. For example? Creating a new layer from a pasted picture. Why the heck has layers got to have a size on their own?! Dammit, I guess that’s only for the final dimensions in MB of the file… very bad. If I paste a new picture in my picture, then the pasted selection is fluctuating of course. If I say: “new layer” from the available options, it becomes a new layer with a different size compared to that of the original image… So I have to create a new big layer before I past the picture and THEN I can paste it and flat it down… crazy.
When I free resize a picture I expect it to be real time resized under the movements of my mouse. Despite the fact that the whole physics or resizing the picture are IMHO wrong and hard to use, I don’t know why and what was exactly in the mind of the developers when they decided that the original picture (the not resized one) had to remain on the screen while you drag and resize the modified version of it. I know, it is complicated to understand for a reader, imagine for a writer, me, since I’m also Italian. Hope you got it man. The free resize option in these conditions is almost unusable. How am I supposed to see how the resized picture looks like in the contest of the whole composition if the not resized picture keeps staying there during the entire resizing process? It is just impossible. Another trick here: while you start resizing the picture, you can hide its layer. this way the unmodified version disappears and you can see only the version you are modifying. But, hey, you have to think about it, you have to create a trick! It is not automatic!
Let’s see a real example then. In the following picture I copy-pasted the violet Geubuntu logo into the window with the golden one. The reason is that I want to quickly resize the violet logo to the exact dimensions of the golden one without having to eliminate the shadow in the violet logo (I cannot determine the exact dimensions of the violet logo respect to the golden one since the latter has no shadow at all, ok?). So I copy the violet logo and past it into the window of the golden one. Ok, it is huge compared to the golden one, gotta resize it. I then choose the resize button and start pointing the mouse on the violet just-passed logo but hey! A number of wrong and nasty things happens all at once. A new window opens, an useless window (why would I need the exact pixel dimension of the resized picture if I’m supposed to be free trasforming it and therefore I have no idea of the supposed size of the final result?!), then the ugly revelation: I cannot grab the picture by pressing the mouse over it and trying to center it! That’s because the image is too big and you can only grab it if you find a strange hot spot in the center of the image, but the center is unreachable right now, out of the screen… very bad user interface concept in this tool, the worst I ever saw, really. So I’m stuck because what’s worst is that wherever to touch the picture you resize it! You can’t move it, just resize it with this tool. Crazy. In PS you can move the picture if you click INTO IT, and resize it if you click on the hot-spots in the borders of the picture, in Gimp, using this tool, there are hot spots indeed but they’re useless, meaningless, since wherever you touch the picture it still gets resized and never moved! A person who never used The Gip cannot get it. It is just so crazy that it isn’t even imaginable!!! Why did they create such a freaking approach? Pure mistery to me.
So I cannot resize the picture since I can’t move it. What can I do? Of course, I use the move tool to move the picture and center it… at least in this way I can see the center image hot-spot when I will resize it again, so I’ll be able to free transform the picture still having the ability to move it while I transform it… but why had I got to do such workarounds, I guess? Just a bad design is the answer. Now we find the other horrible problem of this pseudo PS free trasnform-clone tool. I start to resize the picture but hey! I see the unresized picture too! So how am I supposed to see the golden logo and transform the violet one according to its dimension? I can’t. Wow, what an useless tool! Not to mention the fact that to resize the picture to the dimensions I like I have to do double the effort I’d do with another program like PS, since each time I risk to loose out of the window the center hot-spot and loosing it would mean not to be able anymore to move the free-stransformed picture… a real disaster, then.
Ehm… How can I hide that damned big unresized picture!?!?! Please also take note of the meaningless animated selections boundaries around the original picture… the most chaotic interface ever seen in my life.
How can I solve it? Luckily I can solve it, often with Gimp you just CANNOT solve some very easy problems or you can but only after something like 7 steps or an entire tutorial while with PS you would just click a single button Very bad indeed. To solve it, we where saying, I have to hide the layer with the pastes image! Strangely and lucky me the being-free-transformed picture is not hided! A sort of bug? This time at least it is a very useful bug
Oh… Lucky me I found a workaround for this :_)
Also, PS has some cool osnap functions completely absent in Gimp and company. Only PS has those functions and I really miss them… I mean that when you are dragging a picture near another, for example, the mouse helps you in placing the picture exactly where you’d like it to be. So you cannot make mistakes, for example, creating a grid of pictures. Well, with Gimp this is almost impossible. I didn’t find any workaround. It is just a major missing feature.
Then I could tell you about how crazy it is that with Gimp I have to use a different tool even to grab and move my picture, I could list you an infinite number of missing features but the answer is only one:
Can you do with Gimp all the things you can do with PS? Absolutely, NOT in the same time. With a lot of workarounds? Maybe but you loose a LOT of time. Really a LOT of time, man. Then another evaluation is needed! Since PS costs something like 1500$ and Gimp is Free Software, can you suffer the pain of hell and keep using Gimp instead of PS? That is, as a whole, what’s the best choice? Of course, IMHO, Gimp. C’mon, it’s a crazy little toy and it misses an enormous number of features for absolutely no reason at all (what would it cost to the devel team to create an usable user interface dammit?) but it is free.
Since we are not pirates and personally I don’t want to be it at all, then Gimp is the FORCED choice for us. But should PS become free, for absurd, then I wouldn’t even consider Gimp for a second. that’s sure.
hope I gave you interesting and fair argumentations