It will be eighteen years this weekend since GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, hit version 1.0 on June 5, 1996, and over twenty since the open source project first became generally available to the public. In that time, it has come a long way in both the expansion of features and in usability, and for many users across Linux, Windows, and Mac machines alike it has become their preferred image editor.
But is GIMP really a full replacement for Photoshop? It probably depends on both what you need it for, and how rigid you are in your workflow. In many educational programs, designers and artists are often taught a single proprietary option from day one of their training; they aren’t taught design so much as how to use a specific application. Industry completes the cycle by advertising job requirements around a specific tool, and building a whole design workflow around it, making it harder to break in with an open source alternative.
This cycle doesn’t explain the whole world of graphic editing software, though. Many home users are perfectly content to use whatever tool works for them, and if it’s freely available, all the better to them. Many small businesses see the advantages of using open source applications over their proprietary alternatives. And even many enterprise corporations are becoming more welcoming to software diversity inside their walls.
In addition, there are other image tools with a growing following: Krita, which specializes in being sketching and painting for artistic purposes, is a great example.
So what do you think? Is GIMP a viable Photoshop alternative you? And of the open source options available, is it the one that best meets your needs, or do you use others? Let us know in the comment below.