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Tutorial: GIMP 2.9/2.10 Feature Preview

Written by · Created on Dec 16, 2012, last updated almost 3 years ago CC BY-NC License
GIMP 2.9/2.10 Feature Preview


For GIMP 2.10, the developers want to completely switch to GIMP's new computation engine GEGL. This will offer higher bit depths, more non-destructive editing and faster rendering due to OpenCL support in the future. We've taken a look on the stuff that changed since 2.8 and which can already be found in the current GIMP 2.9 master branch.

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    A huge step for GIMP: 16/32 bit per channel support

    From now on, you’ll be able to work with a lot more color information and detail in your pictures. This support basically gives you the ability to create super-smooth color transitions on your picture. And theoretically, from now on it’s possible to have RAW files edited with GIMP directly since there is enough color space to bring back all the details that are stored inside a RAW file – however this is not yet implemented yet.

    This feature was already shown in May 2012 on Libre Graphics Meeting in Vienna, right after the release of GIMP 2.8. There has been much work done since then below the surface. GIMP 2.10 will be able to work with:

    • 16 bits per color channel – fixed integer
    • 16 bpcc – floating point
    • 32 bpcc – fixed integer
    • 32 bpcc – floating point and of course
    • 8 bpcc integer

    If you wonder what the difference is between integer and floating point (in the graphics area): If you have an image with 16-bit integer precision per channel, then you have 65.536 shades of different red, green and blue color tones – all of them equally stepped to each other (equal color distance). If you have it in floating point, then there are no equal-wide steps – so you can distribute the possible color values over selected ranges. For example: if you know that you have a very dark image with many shades of dark red color tones then you would benefit from floating point because you can decrease the importance of the brighter color tones and get most color detail out of only the darker reds.

    Image description: left 8bpcc – you can see the lack of available colors clearly between the transitions of the colors; not so in the 32bpcc image on the right.

  2. 2

    (Almost) Lossless color space conversions

    You can convert images into different color spaces on-the-fly forth and back as you wish with no or almost no loss of information.

  3. 3

    New tool: Unified transformation

    If you click a layer with this new tool, you’ll not only be able to scale a layer but you’ll have the ability to rotate, shear and perspective transform it all at once in one single operation.

    This was implemented during a Google summer of code 2012 project. The result will be in GIMP 2.10 and combines all of the transformation tools into one. Awesome and very time saving!

  4. 4

    Heavily improved scaling quality: No- and LoHalo-Samplers

    Previously GIMPs results when scaling images down (= reducing width/height) were good but not perfect, i.e. you may have noticed some blurryness or too jaggy results (especially on text or diagonal lines). This will be history with the new sampling methods. They produce super sharp results that aim to be a real 1:1 copy of your original image (but only smaller).

    In this crowd-funded project (that is not finished yet, so you can still speed things up with a donation – see here), the aim was to get high-quality scaling into GIMP with new GEGL samplers named NoHalo and LoHalo. These new sampling methods are available where scaling is applied to a layer or image (transformation tools, Image→Scale Image, etc).

    Basically all of the new samplers are producing clearly visible better outputs (especially when rotating or downscaling) than all of the older methods currently in GIMP.

    But there are some things you should keep in mind: Use the

    • LoHalo method: when you downscale an image thats less than a half of the original size
    • NoHalo method when you do not reduce the size much (rotate, shear or something)
    • LoBlur method (yet to come) will produce very sharp outcome
    • LoJaggy (yet to come) is a special method and aimed on reducing jaggyness

    This is a quote of Nicolas Robidoux, the creator of the new quality samplers for GEGL and GIMP:

    “If haloing is not an issue with your content and use case, which of the two should you try first? (Clearly, if you want to minimize haloing, NoHalo is the ticket.)

    If you are reducing an image, LoHalo is generally better.

    If your transformation is not an all around reduction, for example if you enlarge, rotate or apply a perspective transformation that keeps portions of the image at the same or higher resolution, I generally prefer NoHalo. This preference, however, changes depending on the image content. If, for example, the image contains text or text-like objects or has significant areas with only a handful of different colours, like old school pixel art, I’d switch to LoHalo. Likewise if the image is quite noisy or marred by compression artifacts (as are most JPEGs found on the web). Conversely, if the image is noise free, very slightly blurry (meaning that when pixel peeking, the lines and interfaces are smeared over two or more pixels), and there are delicate skin tones to be preserved, I’d try NoHalo first. Actually, if I find that colours have not been preserved nicely after transforming an image with LoHalo, I’d immediately switch to NoHalo, even if reducing.

    In any case, these recommendations should not be taken as gospel. I still have much to learn and figure out. For example, how best to deal with transparency and different colour spaces is something I’m likely to be thinking about for a while."

  5. 5

    Sampling example 2:

    Here you can clearly see the high quality of the new samplers.

    top left: you can see the not very nice moire effect on the “eyes”
    top mid: scaled with NoHalo to about 1/4th. Still very sharp, and you can see the moire effect on the eyes very slighty
    top right: used LoHalo which produces smoother outcome and minimzes the moire but is a little less sharp then NoHalo

    Thanks to Nicolas Robidoux for pointing me to this great example image!

  6. 6

    More on-canvas previews

    With GEGL coming more and more into GIMP, all of the old filters need to be replaced/rewritten completely. It’s a huge effort to do this, but the benefits will include partial live-editing (where possible) so you can see the results directly on-canvas (motion blur, sharpening, pixelize, etc). This feature will make use of the new multi-core and GPU side processing as well.

    Gaussian and Motion Blur work on-canvas and also most of the Noise creation filters, so you can immedialtely see what the outcome will be. I have used the HSV noise on the image.

  7. 7

    Multi-core CPU / GPU support

    GIMP 2.8 does not support multi-processed computation of filters. This will change with GIMP 2.10. Some filters will gain a great speed increase from the hardware acceleration. However only very few filters have been rewritten to make use of the OpenCL acceleration feature yet (see next step).

    /OpenCL is currently disabled by default. If you want to see it in action, use the “GEGL_USE_OPENCL=yes” parameter when starting GIMP from the terminal. It’s the goal of the developers to have the whole projection (= what you see on the canvas) hardware-accelerated too. But for now things are still slow and not accelerated except a few filters. /

  8. 8

    OpenCL-accelerated filters

    These filters do currently make use of the full power of your CPU/GPU hardware which results in accelerated computation:

    Gaussian Blur, Grey, Laplace, Motion Blur, Pixelize, Sobel, Threshold

    Note that for GIMP 2.10, not all filters need to be accelerated. For some of them, it’s not important and sometimes there is just no gain in speed of the computation.

    In the example image I have used the on-canvas motion blur on a 1400×1400 picture with different values; every time when doing a change it was rendered directly on the image in less than a second! Awesome speed compared to the old behaviour in GIMP 2.8 where the same operation took about 10 or more seconds to be computed and rendered.

  9. 9

    GEGL based filters and plugins

    These filters have already been rewritten to make use of GIMPs new graphics engine (GEGL) which results in support for all of the high bit depths features and possible acceleration via OpenCL:

    Cartoon, Checkerboard, Color to Alpha, Convolution Matrix, Cubism, Deinterlace, Difference of Gaussian, Emboss, Fractal Explorer, Fractal Trace, Gaussian Blur, Grey, Grid, HSV Noise, Laplace, Lens Distortion, Motion Blur, Noise Spread, Oilify, Photocopy, Pixelize, Plasma, Polar coordinates, Red eye removal, RGB noise, Ripple, Rotate Colors, Shift, Sobel, Softglow, Spread, Threshold, Unsharp Mask, Waves, Whirl and Pinch, Wind.

  10. 10

    ICC v4 color profile conversion support

    LittleCMS 2 has been implemented into GIMP which makes it possible to convert forth and back between different color profiles with almost no loss of information.

  11. 11

    Tile based computation and projection

    This is not really a new feature but when the switch to GIMPs new engine is completed, every operation should work tile-based (using new GEGL tiles) – the base for better improvements in the future. The image shows how tiles are computed and rendered – every rectangle is a part of the image that can be processed seperately. Currently the redrawing of GIMPs canvas area is very slow because accelerated projection is not the goal in the current phase of development.

  12. 12

    Color temperature correction

    There is a new filter in the Colors menu that lets you correct the color temperature of your photos. You can shift the white point to make your photos warmer or colder or adjust the correct white point in Kelvin.

  13. 13

    Say goodbye to:

    • the Lanczos 3 sampler (replaced by the new LoBlur samling method)
    • Maximum RGB filter

    These filters have been removed since there were either replacements or had no proper use to the GIMP users.

  14. 14

    GIMP 2.10 could be released in late 2013. This is a vague estimation – there is no official release date yet.


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27 days ago

From latest analysis of development speed. it will be sometime in 2020 before 2.10 will be released.
Can't wait!

6 months ago

Multiple layer selection??? Fibres effect???

AxureAdam member for about 1 year AxureAdam 3 comments
about 1 year ago

Can't wait!

Michael Schumacher
about 1 year ago

Kwhaunet, if you are using Microsoft Windows, you can find nightly builds at:

For Ubuntu Linux and similar distros, there's the gimp-edge PPA at:

Bob K
about 1 year ago

We should have a challenge. Gimp 2.10 or Ubuntu tablets and smart phones. Which makes it first into consumers homes. So much for open source!.

Bob K.
about 1 year ago

GIMP 2.10 could be released in late 2013. This is a vague estimation – there is no official release date yet.

It's late 2014 already!.

over 1 year ago

wo kann man Gimp experimentale (x86) herunterladen?


Mark Potts
almost 2 years ago

cant wait :D

unni member for almost 4 years unni 2 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 2 years ago

good work.

otto06217 member for about 2 years otto06217 1 comment
about 2 years ago

For all windozer (:-D) there are nightly builds:

Maybe it works for Win XP Pro SP3;.)

about 2 years ago

Will 2.9 be suitable for Win XP Pro SP3 ?
And : Thanks for all your effort !!!!!

about 2 years ago

Just to tell you THANK's for this harder job. I'm a fan since a long time when i decide to quit windows for linux.Now, i use it very often for many graphical uses. I like to use GIMP it's cool, very easy and i get all the fonctions i was using before under Win, with photoshop. i'm very impatient for this new 2.10.

josephbupe member for over 4 years josephbupe 18 comments
about 2 years ago

I equally admire the way layer effects are accessed in PS with easy. But for GIMP that may come not earlier than version 3.0 of GIMP. See the roadmap here:

about 2 years ago

Hi, I'd like to propose to implement the 'layer effects' (bevel, drop shadow, etc) with real-time preview in GEGL.
Thanks for the attention /saverio

over 2 years ago

To those of you complaining about "export" being changed, just save the xcf file. Also Export is still there and well supported! I prefer having both options available to me. I never click "save as" until I am absolutely finished. Even for years in Photoshop I always saved the raw file, and exported many different iterations rather than relying on saving as a lossy image format... people make no sense to me.

over 2 years ago

It is about time that GIMP is catching up with Photoshop! These are much needed features! While a few key elements like large printer support are simply missing, or smart resizing color reproduction, it is nice to finally some CS5.5 features such as multi core support, 32bit color sampling, and full 3D image support! I am going to be honest with you, Adobe better watch out now, things are getting serious now. After having tried the beta, I can vouge for 32bit integer and floating point support is so very welcome! I would love to see it be bumped up to 48bit, and some 128bit alpha channel blend support to get it up to speed with CS6, but 32bit has been more than enough for years. like Photoshop only had 32bit integer support from PS9~PSCS5.5! Now only if they integrated Inkscape we would be ahead of the competition!

over 2 years ago


Gimp has some really great tools it appears and I use it mostly for image conversion. I just want to ask if it is every going to have proper printing capabilities. I print very large banner type images (very, very large) and I simply can't print to a plotter from Gimp. Any hope of seeing that working in 2.10?


over 2 years ago

Thank you, GIMP team, for all your hard work!

over 2 years ago

16/32 bit colour depth, brilliant! can't wait, and my thanks to the developing team

over 2 years ago

New tool: Unified transformation


knezmej member for over 2 years knezmej 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
over 2 years ago

Excellent article. Thank You.

josephbupe member for over 4 years josephbupe 18 comments
almost 3 years ago

Hi Devv,

Thanx for your response. I actually meant the feature preview such as the one you have posted here; if it can also be in video form.

Stay well.

devvv member for about 9 years devvv 1459 comments
almost 3 years ago

unhammer: I added now, how fast computation can be compared to the old filter (step 8) ;) Thanks for the hint – now it makes more sense!

josephbupe: there are only very few developers on GIMP. They don't simply have the time to show their work in progress in videos. However some Summer of Code students post their hacking stuff on youtube occasionally.

josephbupe member for over 4 years josephbupe 18 comments rated this topic with 5/5
almost 3 years ago

Dear GIMP developers.

We appreciate all the efforts you are putting in to improve our most favoured graphics tool.

Is it possible for you to consider posting video clips demostrating the work in progress?

almost 3 years ago

For me there's only one difference between GIMP and Photoshop: the interface. I still find GIMP uncomfortable to work with, and it means not giving a damn about whatever other features it has. It's the same issue with Libreoffice vs Word, but it matters more here. All the best guys.

taras member for almost 3 years taras 1 comment rated this topic with 5/5
almost 3 years ago

This all looks great - GIMP just keeps getting better, and it looks like the devs are addressing things that matter.

Personally, I prefer the addition of "Export". As someone who uses GIMP for work, there were definitely times when it would have saved my skin (e.g. working for an hour on a complex image, flattening it and Saving As jpg, closing down without saving the xcf, then needing to correct it later and having to start again).

Dave R.
almost 3 years ago

I am VERY excited about 16+ bit-per-channel capability. It's the one thing I really need, mostly to work with film scans (especially B&W).

Re: ""Save As" won't be "fixed". There is nothing to fix. it's a design decision."

Sorry, but I'm with Machtyn. That change was by far the most worthless and annoying one I've seen with GIMP, which I've been using at least since 2.0, and IIRC a little with 1.x. That I also have to deal with similar idiocy with Sony's Image Data Converter is no excuse--very irritating there too!

But don't let me end on a low note: keep up the good work.

(longtime GIMP advocate and occasional (minor) financial contributor)

almost 3 years ago

@Machtyn, try this:

almost 3 years ago

Silvio, these tools have to be finished first. Unfortunately, both former students are unavailable right now (for good reasons). If they will be unable to complete their work before featue freeze is announced, and the team doesn't have the time, those tools will have to wait.

Silvio Grosso
almost 3 years ago

Hi everyone,

Thanks a lot indeed for this very interesting update :-)

I am wondering whether two features are likely to be included in the "upcoming" Gimp 2.10 release.
More precisely:
1) Seamless Cloning (developed by Barak Itkin, thanks to the Google Summer of Code, in 2011)
2) Warp Transform tool (developed thanks to the Google Summer of Code, in 2011)

I have read both these projects were succesful (especially the warp transform tool) :-)

Unfortunately, for instance, it looks like they are not available with the *Windows* daily Build of Gimp 2.9.

Thanks in advance for any update on this subject

Silvio Grosso

almost 3 years ago


The new transform tool will replace old tools eventually. It has to be finished first (e.g. the floating dialog has to go).


"Save As" won't be "fixed". There is nothing to fix. it's a design decision. There will probably be additional changes to address concerns by people who rely on simpler workflows.


Which features exactly? Some of the changes from that fork are already in 2.8 (smoothing, for instance). Some, like canvas rotation, are possible to backport, but need attention from both developers and usabilty engineers. And then there are things like MyPaint brush engine support that need a special usabity research (same as Mixbrush, probably).

almost 3 years ago


The difference is that you _think_, but I _know_ :)

If I had a penny for each time I heard someone saying "Oh, they promised it to be released on %date%", I could be retired by now. In terms of PR, the end of the article imposes a reputation risk.

deadwood member for about 3 years deadwood 6 comments
almost 3 years ago

Awesome new stuff, it's great to see the developers continue to enhance GIMP in a professional way. We just startet to teach with it on our school.

The high bits support is my favourite, followed by the awesome scaling methods.

Very well written article, thanks for taking the time to write it. Makes me hot for the next version. Only one question: Will the new transform tool replace all the others, or will it be coexisting with the current ones?

Developers: keep up the great work and take your time. You're awesome!

Thank you, Jeoffrey

almost 3 years ago

Will the Save As option be fixed? That is, having to File->Export is not as convenient as having a single window that can Save As... xcf, jpg, png, bmp, etc, etc.

It annoys me to no end and the one reason I stay on GIMP 2.6 on my personal computer. My work computer got the latest 2.8 version.

I am excited for the GEGL and multi-core features. Thanks!

almost 3 years ago

is there any chance to see any of the features from "gimp for painter" fork ???

devvv member for about 9 years devvv 1459 comments
almost 3 years ago

Alexandre: I don't think the people will complain, or at least not because of this statement because 'a vague estimation' is nothing to refer to :) Everyone knows only to trust dateswhen they are put up on

Unhammer: haha, guess there's some truth in that :D maybe i update it to be little more specific

almost 3 years ago

"GIMP 2.10 should be released in late 2013. This is a vague estimation – there is no official date yet."

I really wish you didn't state that. People _will_ get it wrong, and we _will_ hear complaints that we presumably promised a release in late 2013 and didn't keep our promise.

unhammer member for about 6 years unhammer 24 comments
almost 3 years ago

"every time the changes were rendered directly on the image in less than a second" … and that would actually mean something if you said how slow it was without OpenCL ;-)