Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Photoshop'acizing My Gimp

I've been playing with The Gimp, 2.4 on my new laptop and I'm quite impressed. Usually, I'd insist that the company I was working for pay the $1,000 or so for the latest version of Photoshop - but now that I am the company, I decided I should take a closer look The Gimp. For serious image editing, Photoshop is still the way to go, but I'm curious how far The Gimp gets me.

The basic feel of the Gimp 2.4 is solid, and it had no problems opening up client's PSDs. However, I noticed that I was tripping over myself while using it. This was because I kept using Photoshop key combinations, which of course, don't do what you expect. Check out this typical sequence:

  1. OK, I've got a selection I'd like to clear, so I'll hit Control+D
  2. D'oh - what happened?! Where's my image
  3. Wait a second, that's right, Control+D in Gimp duplicates an image. I'm looking at the duplicate.
  4. I'll just close this image and get back to work by hitting Control+W
  5. Argh, now it wants to interrogate me about whether or not I want save the image. Of course I don't want to save the duplicate, I didn't want it in the first place!
  6. Ahh, now I'm back to my original image. Now, how do I clear a selection?
  7. ...Find the Selection menu, then find the None option - Oh yeah, it's Control+Shift+A
  8. ...7 minutes later, repeat...

I'd hit Control+D a few times and I'd be ready to chuck out The Gimp altogether.

Of course, you can easily redefine the keys - and that's what I did today. There's actually some great resources on the web for making The Gimp Photoshop friendly, though they appear to only work in older 2.2 version. Setting your preferred key combinations is as easy as going to File >> Keyboard Shortcuts and following the instructions. It took about 20 seconds to fix this major annoyance.

If you want a Gimp 2.4 version of a keyboard file with some Photoshop friendly additions, you're welcome to grab mine here. If you have any suggestions for key bindings to add, let me know.

The other feature that through me off, until I remembered how it works, was the Floating Selection. Turns out, this is quite handy - and probably something I'd miss if (when?) I switch back to using Photoshop.

Besides, if I use The Gimp, I'll get to hack it in Scheme. How cool is that?

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