GIMP: Getting Started
If you’re used to the Mac version of Photoshop, you’ll feel reasonably at home with the GIMP’s default layout of floating everything. However, I prefer a more normal Windows look, and have very strong views on image backgrounds while editing.
I believe that all photo editing or assessment, whether on screen or not, requires the image to be viewed against a neutral mid grey background, not against a bright orange sunset, or deep blue sea or whatever you have as your desktop background. Fortunately the GIMP has lots of options so this is easily changed.
When you start the GIMP and open an image it appears in a separate window floating on your desktop. I’m not a fan of this layout, so to change to a more normal look, first click the maximise button (the little box) in the top right hand corner of the image. This will provide a normal layout, covering your desktop background, but it will be very light grey, not mid grey, which I think is the best choice. To change this, choose Edit / Preferences then click the little + next to Image Windows and Appearance will em....appear. In that menu box change Canvas Padding Mode to Dark Check Color in both the Default Appearance in Normal Mode, and the Default Appearance in Fullscreen Mode menus. Hey presto you will have a more normal workspace.
Unfortunately the image now appears to have a yellow selection around it. Again I find this very distracting, but it can be removed by selecting View and unticking View Layer Boundary. The workspace now looks like Photoshop and I think is ideal for photo editing. As you will have seen along the way here, the GIMP can be customised in many ways so feel free to make your very own version, these are only my suggestions.
If you’re familiar with Photoshop you’ll gradually find your way around. Levels and Curves are for some reason found in the Colors menu, and although by default there are no keyboard shortcuts, you can define as many as you like: Edit / Preferences / User Interface - so in my installation Ctrl L works just fine. GIMP even has a healing tool. Amazing.
If all of this is new to you, take some time to check out the online Tutorials
Then open one of your better images, save a copy as yourname adjusted.TIF and see if you can improve it. There are basic Brightness / Contrast and Color Balance tools in the Colors menu, try using them. Don’t be put off by all the other menu choices that you see. Many of them simply aren’t needed for basic photographic adjustments, so just ignore them to begin with.
Above all have fun - to quote the GIMP website :
“Grab a properly chilled beverage and enjoy.”