Bad photos happen. It can be the camera, the person taking the photo or the subject matter itself. There are many techniques available to attempt to repair a botched image. The first for many amateur photographers is the software supplied with their camera. About as good for as much as red eye. But what about when an image is so botched that fixing some flash induced freaky devil eyes won't fix it? That's when you turn to a serious manipulation program.

The first thing most will think of is photoshop. It's excellent, but expensive. And if you want to download a trial it's hundreds of megabytes. Personally I use GIMP (GNU image manipulation program). It is excellent; lightweight (under 20 megabytes), will run on many operating systems, has many useful tools, is very user friendly and has heaps of included gradients, fonts and textures!

Where can I get GIMP?

Installers are available for linux/unix, windows and mac operating systems. The system requirements are fairly low, and it will download quickly with an average internet connection.

I'm going to take you through the ABC of editing an image. If you want to learn to do something that's been missed, check the tool guide at the end or just ask!

Step 1: Work in layers

Before we begin, I've decided to do a walk-through of a complete transformation of an image. This applies mainly to editing a photograph of a person. Some of it is adaptable to landscape images but landscapes tend to mess up photos less than humans.

We had been assigned in photography to edit a photo of Lourdes (Madonna's daughter..) to make it slightly less....you'll see. Not an easy task. I decided to see what I could do with GIMP in comparison to the more expensive (free vs. how bloody much?) and larger photoshop.

Also note that I am using the latest windows version of GIMP.

The first thing you should do when editing images is to work in layers. This allows you to edit specific parts of an image without touching other parts. It also allows you to completely scrub a massive amount of stuff ups instantly. Great!

Creating a new layer is simple. Simply select the "Layer" drop down bar and click New Layer, or hold down Ctrl + Shift + N. You'll be greeted by a box asking you for the dimensions of the layer, the type and what you would like to name it. If you are working with a photo as a background leave the type as transparent. Then set the name to the part of the feature you are editing.

Once you have finished working in the layer you can select "merge down" to flatten the image with the layer below it. Make sure you are completely happy with what you did first.

Also GIMP is an open source program, so there are literally THOUSANDS of FREE effects/brushes/tools out there for anyone to use. A very good source for a lot of these is www.deviantart.com <br />
How does this compare to Photoshop iv only played around with the free temporary versions (Yes i do know how to get rid of the trial counter)
Well a huge advantage is the size. It seems similar to photoshop at first, but with some experience you can create really great effects which are basically un-doable with photoshop. It takes a lot of work to get good with, probably more than photoshop. For just fixing up basic images like this photoshop is much easier and quicker. There's not really much difference, except the size and cost.
you shouldnt under estimate photoshop, photoshop is a very powerful application when used correctly, now I've never used Gimp so I wont say anymore but Photoshop is defiantly able to do some incredible things. Hens why its pretty much the industry standard.
The gimp is a very powerful application when used correctly .... its different, its wonky, but its free and does a darn good job
dude, i got photoshop for free.

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Bio: 17 Years old, doing a Masters in Professional Engineering (chemistry/mechanical) starting at UWA next year. I like designing and building things, as well as ... More »
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