The GIMP is a multiplatform photo manipulation tool. GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP is suitable for a variety of image manipulation tasks, including photo retouching, image composition, and image construction. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.
– Full suite of painting tools including brushes, a pencil, an airbrush, cloning, etc.
– Tile-based memory management so image size is limited only by available disk space
– Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools for high-quality anti-aliasing
– Full Alpha channel support
– Layers and channels
– A procedural database for calling internal GIMP functions from external programs, such as Script-Fu
– Advanced scripting capabilities
– Multiple undo/redo (limited only by disk space)
– Transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear and flip
– File formats supported include GIF, JPEG, PNG, XPM, TIFF, TGA, MPEG, PS, PDF, PCX, BMP and many others
– Selection tools including rectangle, ellipse, free, fuzzy, bezier and intelligent
– Plug-ins that allow for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters
GIMP 2.10 is the result of six years of work that originally focused on porting the program to a new image processing engine, GEGL. However the new version ships with far more new features, including new and improved tools, better file formats support, various usability improvements, revamped color management support, a plethora of improvements targeted at digital painters and photographers, metadata editing, and much, much more.
Updated user interface and initial HiDPI support
One thing immediately noticeable about GIMP 2.10 is the new dark theme and symbolic icons enabled by default. This is meant to somewhat dim the environment and shift the focus towards content.
There are now 4 user interface themes available in GIMP: Dark (default), Gray, Light, and System. Icons are now separate from themes, and we maintain both color and symbolic icons, so you can configure GIMP to have System theme with color icons if you prefer the old look.
Moreover, icons are available in four sizes now, so that GIMP would look better on HiDPI displays. GIMP will do its best to detect which size to use, but you can manually override that selection in Edit > Preferences > Interface > Icon Themes.
GEGL port, high bit depth support, multi-threading, and more
The ultimate goal for v2.10 was completing the port to GEGL image processing library, started with v2.6 when we introduced optional use of GEGL for color tools and an experimental GEGL tool, and continued with v2.8 where we added GEGL-based projection of layers.
Now GIMP uses GEGL for all tile management and builds an acyclic graph for every project. This is a prerequisite for adding non-destructive editing planned for v3.2.
There are many benefits from using GEGL, and some of them you can already enjoy in GIMP 2.10.
High bit depth support allows processing images with up to 32-bit per color channel precision and open/export PSD, TIFF, PNG, EXR, and RGBE files in their native fidelity. Additionally, FITS images can be opened with up to 64-bit per channel precision.
Multi-threading allows making use of multiple cores for processing. Not all features in GIMP make use of that, it’s something we intend to work on further. A point of interest is that multi-threading happens through GEGL processing, but also in core GIMP itself, for instance to separate painting from display code.
GPU-side processing is still optional, but available for systems with stable OpenCL drivers.
You can find configuration options for multi-threading and hardware acceleration in Edit > Preferences > System Resources.
Linear color space workflow
Another benefit of using GEGL is being able to work on images in a linear RGB color space as opposed to gamma-corrected (perceptual) RGB color space.
Here is what it boils down to:
- You now have both linear and perceptual versions of most blending modes.
- There is now a linear version of the Color Invert command.
- You can freely switch between the two at any time via Image > Precision submenu.
- You can choose which mode is displayed in the Histogram docker.
- You can apply Levels and Curves filters in either perceptual or linear mode
- When higher than 8-bit per channel precision is used, all channels data is linear.
- You can choose whether the gradient tool should work in perceptual RGB, linear RGB, or CIE LAB color space
Color management revamped
Color management is now a core feature of GIMP rather than a plug-in. This made it possible, in particular, to introduce color management to all custom widgets we could think of: image previews, color and pattern previews etc.
GIMP now uses LittleCMS v2, which allows it to use ICC v4 color profiles. It also partially relies on the babl library for handling color transforms, since babl is simply up to 10 times faster than LCMS2 for the cases we tested both of them on. Eventually babl could replace LittleCMS in GIMP.
Layers and masks
GIMP now ships with two groups of blending modes: legacy (perceptual, mostly to make old XCF files look exactly as before) and default (mostly linear).
New blend modes are:
- LCH layer modes: Hue, Chroma, Color, and Lightness
- Pass-Through mode for layer groups
- Linear Burn, Vivid Light, Linear Light, Pin Light, Hard Mix, Exclusion, Merge, and Split
Layers, paths, and channels can also be tagged with color labels to improve project organization. This will be even more useful once we add multi-layer selection later on.
Compositing options for layers are exposed to users now, and all layer-related settings are finally available in the Layer Attributes dialog.
Moreover, if you always need alpha in your layers, you can enable automatic generation of the alpha channel in imported images upon opening them. See Edit > Preferences > Image Import & Export page for this and more policies.
More use for CIE LAB and CIE LCH
With GIMP 2.10, we introduced a number of features that make use of CIE LAB and CIE LCH color spaces:
- Color dialogs now have an LCH color selector you can use instead of HSV. The LCH selector also displays out-of-gamut warning.
- A new Hue-Chroma filter in the Colors menu works much like Hue-Saturation, but operates in CIE LCH color space.
- The Fuzzy Select and the Bucket Fill tools can now select colors by their values in CIE L, C, and H channels.
- Both the Color Picker and the Sample Points dialog now display pixel values in CIE LAB and CIE LCH at your preference.
New Unified Transform tool simplifies making multiple transforms, such as scaling, rotating, and correcting perspective in one go. The design is based on a functional spec written by our former UX expert Peter Sikking.
The new Warp Transform tool allows doing localized transforms like growing or shifting pixels with a soft brush and undo support. Such tools are commonly used in fashion photography for retouching.
The new Handle Transform tool provides an interesting approach at applying scaling, rotating, and perspective correction using handles placed on the canvas. People who are used to editing on touch surfaces might find this tool strangely easy to grasp.
We renamed the Blend tool to Gradient tool and changed its default shortcut to G. But this pales in comparison to what the tool can actually do now, and it’s a lot. The new tool pretty much obsoletes the old Gradient Editor dialog. Now you can create and delete color stops, select and shift them, assign colors to color stops, change blending and coloring for segments between color stops and create new color stops from midpoints right on the canvas.
Better selection tools
The Foreground Select tool can finally make subpixel selections in complex cases such as strays of hair on textured background. Two new masking methods are now available for that.
The Select by Color and Fuzzy Select tools now both feature a Draw mask option to display future selection area with a magenta fill, and the latter tool also got a Diagonal neighbors option to select diagonally neighboring pixels.
For the Free Select tool, closing a polygonal/free selection now doesn’t confirm the selection automatically. Instead you still can tweak positions of nodes (where applicable), then press Enter, double-click inside the selection, or switch to another tool to confirm the selection.
The Intelligent Scissors tool finally allows to remove the last added segment with Backspace key, and GIMP now checks, whether the first and the last segments are distinct before closing the curve.
Text tool supports CJK and more writing systems
The Text tool now fully supports advanced input methods for CJK and other non-western languages. The pre-edit text is now displayed just as expected, depending on your platform and Input Method Engine. Several input method-related bugs and crashes have also been fixed.
Digital painting improvements
GIMP 2.10 ships with a number of improvements requested by digital painters. One of the most interesting new additions here is the MyPaint Brush tool that first appeared in the GIMP-Painter fork.
The Smudge tool got updates specifically targeted in painting use case. The new No erase effect option prevents the tools from changing alpha of pixels. And the foreground color can now be blended into smudged pixels, controlled by a new Flow slider, where 0 means no blending.
All painting tools now have explicit Hardness and Force sliders except for the MyPaint Brush tool that only has the Hardness slider.
Most importantly, GIMP now supports canvas rotation and flipping to help illustrators checking proportions and perspective.
A new Brush lock to view option gives you a choice whether you want a brush locked to a certain zoom level and rotation angle of the canvas. The option is available for all painting tools that use a brush except for the MyPaint Brush tool.
New Symmetry Painting dockable dialog, enabled on per-image basis, allows to use all painting tools with various symmetries (mirror, mandala, tiling…).
Digital photography improvements
Some of the new GEGL-based filters are specifically targeted at photographers: Exposure, Shadows-Highlights, High-pass, Wavelet Decompose, Panorama Projection and others will be an important addition to your toolbox.
On top of that, the new Extract Component filter simplifies extracting a channel of an arbitrary color model (LAB, LCH, CMYK etc.) from currently selected layer. If you were used to decomposing and recomposing images just for this, your work will be that easier now.
Moreover, you can now use either darktable or RawTherapee as GIMP plug-ins for opening raw files. Any recent version of either application will do.
A new Clip Warning display filter will visualize underexposed and overexposed areas of a photo for you, with customizable colors. For now, it’s mostly geared towards images where colors are stored with floating point precision. You will mostly benefit from this if you work on 16/32 bit per channel float images such as EXR and TIFF.
GIMP now ships with over 80 GEGL-based filters. A lot of those are former GIMP effects. Here is why GEGL-based implementations are better:
- You can apply them on images in 32-bit per color channel precision mode.
- You can preview them right on the canvas, and if an image is larger than the viewport, GIMP will render the viewport first for immediate feedback.
- You can use split preview to compare original image with its processed version and swap before/after sides both horizontally and vertically.
- In a future non-destructive GIMP, you will be able to adjust settings of those filters without undoing a ton of steps.