The GIMP is a bitmap graphics editor, a program for creating and processing raster graphics. It also has some support for vector graphics. The project was started in 1995 by Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis and is now maintained by a group of volunteers; it is licensed under the GNU General Public License.

GIMP originally stood for General Image Manipulation Program; in 1997, the name was changed to GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is an official part of the GNU project.

The GIMP is popular for processing the digital graphics and photographs displayed on the Internet. Typical uses include creating graphics and logos, resizing and cropping photos, changing colors, combining images using a layer paradigm, removing unwanted image features and converting between different image formats.

The GIMP is also notable as perhaps the first major open source end-user application. Previous work, such as GCC, the Linux kernel, and so on, were tools by programmers, mainly for programmers. The GIMP is proof that the open source process can create things that non-geeks can use productively, and as such psychologically paved the way for such efforts as KDE, GNOME, Mozilla, OpenOffice and various other applications that followed.

The GIMP was intended as a free (as in speech) alternative to Photoshop, but the latter still dominates the printing industry:

  • The GIMP lacks native support for the ubiquitous CMYK color space, as used for print production. (There is a CMYK plugin, and GIMP version 2 is slated to offer native CMYK editing and plugin support.)
  • Photoshop includes licensed support for the Pantone color matching system.
  • The number of pluginss (add-on pieces of code that allow to perform certain complicated functions easily) is larger for Photoshop.

As well as interactive use, the GIMP can be automated with macro programs. The built-in Scheme can be be used for this, or alternatively Perl, Python, Tcl and (experimentally) Ruby can also be used. This allows to write scripts and plugins for the GIMP which can then be used interactively; it is also possible to produce images in completely non-interactive ways (for example generating images for a webpage on the fly using CGI scripts) and for batch color correction and conversion of images. It is generally believed however that for most non-interactive tasks, packages such as ImageMagick are superior.

GIMP uses Gtk+ as its widget toolkit (the part of the program that builds the user interface); in fact, Gtk+ was initially part of the GIMP. GIMP and Gtk+ were originally designed for the X Window System running on Unix or GNU/Linux but have since been ported to Microsoft Windows, OS/2 and MacOS X.

The current (October 2003) stable version of the GIMP is 1.2.5. Upcoming version 2.0 (used to be 1.4) will separate the user interface and the back-end further than currently is the case (an unstable development version is at 1.3.21). The next major version, which used to be called GIMP version 2, will be based on a more generic graphical library called GEGL, and is said to address some fundamental design limitations that have prevented many enhancements such as native CMYK support.

Film Gimp/CinePaint

Film Gimp, now known as CinePaint, is a tool specially tailored to paint on and retouch framess of movies, using a frame manager and onion skinning. It also offers greater color depth than the GIMP - 16 bits per color, rather than 8. It was forked from GIMP version 1.0.4.

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