You may well be wondering what GIMP is. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. Quite simply it is one of the most useful programs I have used throughout the last 10 years. Its an open source program that's ostensibly supposed to compete with Photoshop. When you compare the two programs they are surprisingly close competitors in all but one key area, price. Adobe Photoshop having moved to a subscription model comes in at about £50 per month give-or-take, GIMP on the other hand requires a one off payment of £0.00p. No brainer I'd say. On top of this, GIMP is the best open-source photo-editor out there in the marketplace. It packs in a neat set of features that can rival those of Photoshop. And that's not the end either! More than what GIMP lacks in terms of in-built features, it settles with its powerful set of plugins which are unbelievably small, and extremely versatile.
In my entire history of using GIMP, I haven't ever felt any need to consider using Photoshop. If there was something I just flat out could not do with GIMP that I'd be able to do with Photoshop then I might have considered it but I've never come across anything even close. In addition, there are a surprisingly large number of plugins for this elegant software, that can spice up your GIMP experience, especially if you're serious about your photos. I'll go on to list some of the most powerful and cool plugins for GIMP. All of them are free, and I'll provide the download links to each of them individually. Most of the effects below simply require you to download the respective files, grab the .scm script and put it inside your GIMP folder's 'Scripts' directory. Restart GIMP following each installation, and your effect is installed.
1. Photo Effects
This is really one big boss of photographic effects. It packs in a number of powerful, cool effects, neatly arranged in four categories:
|Sunset at Maidan, glassified with the
Stained Glass effect.
A. Artist (Note Paper, Pastel, Water Paint, Stamp, Warp)
B. Style (Chrome Image, Cross Light)
C. Texture (Brick Wall, Patchwork, Stained Glass, Texturiser)
D. Others (High Pass)
Once installed, any of the above effects can be flawlessly applied to your photos, to make even ordinary shots look special. The merit of this plugin is that, it packs in so many cool effects into an unbelievably small sized package, 27 KB! Yeah, you read me right. ;)
Another glorious addition is the degree of end-user customizations. For example, while applying Stained Glass effect, you can choose the size of each glass-element in pixels! The Note Paper effect is something to be reckoned with. And to be honest, the textures are just way too superb.
2. HDR and HDR Plus plugins
These are two very powerful plugins that can add colour and life to otherwise bland shots. HDR or High Dynamic Ranging process attempts to capture and/or bring back the true colour (as it appears) to each element on the photo, thus livening it up.
Notice the original shot below:
Now, the colours obviously look a bit faded off, and it's time to apply the GIMP HDR Plus plugin. Look at the result below:
The result is clear, it's far more attractive and cool, even though the original shot did not have a good colour composition. I would say, the HDR plugin is the best if you use online Photo-sharing sites such as Flickr or Shuttershock.
Installation is very easy, just download and shift the .scm files to the scripts directory. These cool effects (HDR and HDR Plus) can be loaded from Scripts-Fu=>Enhance=>Fake HDR/Fake HDR Plus.
3. National Geographic Script
This is a smooth and powerful run-once script, that can effective turn even ordinary shots into quality ones. Not that it does live upto its name, but it comes really close! As usual, nothing is better than a demonstration. Consider the photo below, shot at Duars, North Bengal (India).
Although the colour composition is okay, it still lacks some jibe, and just doesn't appear a very quality shot (it may vary, though). I took it with my Canvas 2 Android phablet, using the 8 MP shooter distilled to 5 MP. Now, let us apply the NatGeo script, and the result is shown below:
It's clear that the photo below is a far more refined and quality shot! This is the magic of the NatGeo script. It can be accessed from Filter=>Generic=>National Geographic.
4. Quick Sketch
Quick Sketch is a very clear name, it digitally turns your ordinary shot into a fake painting, which is often just too marvelous to be considered a hand-drawn one though, let me warn you. However, it's very artistic, and will certainly help you amaze your friends and social contacts. Consider the photo of Jeses below:
Now, after adding the Quick Sketch effect:
Looks genuine enough! Not surprisingly, it also reduces the photo size in most cases, doing away with colours and extra graphics. It can be accessed from Scripts-Fu=>Artistic=>Quick Sketch. And it allows you to customize the blur factor too. And behold! It's only 3.25 KB!
5. Blue Sky and Clouds
This is one neat little script that turns otherwise greyish or whitish sky blue, complete with fake clouds and blur. It just appears way too magical, doesn't it? Well, with the plugin, it's a breeze. Consider the photo below, an okay shot that however doesn't capture the serene bluishness of the sky:
Naturally, we'd use the plugin here. The result is shown below:
The plugin also allows tremendous customizations, and you will need a lot of time before mastering it. But even if you just accept the default settings, it'll look cool. And it's just around 5 KB in size. Access it fromScripts-Fu=>Darla=>Blue sky and clouds.