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Can GIMP replace Photoshop?

By at 2009-04-22 03:23:34 UTC, last updated about 14 years ago. CC BY-NC License

No, and it should not even replace Photoshop. GIMP is on its own way – a very good one! Anyway, some users wish to have certain features that don’t exist in GIMP nativly yet. has an article that shows different tweaks to help users replace Photoshop with GIMP. Does this really help users to completely switch over to GIMP? The future will tell ;) Nevertheless – the article shows some cool plugins that help GIMP users to enhance their GIMP:

  • PSPI Plug-In
  • Install Layer Styles
  • Add CMYK Color Separation
  • Install Liquid Rescale
  • Add Essential Brushes
  • Anchor Windows
  • Install Animation Package
  • Enable GEGL

Has GIMP replaced your Photoshop already? Or did you have the chance to leave out Photoshop completely and start with GIMP without even knowing about Adobes program? Let us know in the comments below ;)


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about 14 years ago

And for the comment about not wanting to hear "I can't afford Photoshop"

As cheap as it is on the larger scale of things it is still quite expensive for the individual as a hobbyist, and for other organizations that may not take in that much money such as a nonprofit who does their graphic publications in house. Yes, there are discounts for schools, and nonprofit organizations, but for some of these organizations $100 is a lot much-less anything more.

BTW my $600 cell phone was about $100 after all the in store, and mail in rebates =P Just because someone carries around something that is expensive doesn't mean they paid a lot for it.

about 14 years ago

I've been a linux user for many years, but never really used GIMP. I always ended up going back to my Mac for the Adobe software I use. I recently decided to give GIMP a try, and am impressed with what is here. There is a learning curve, but thats to be expected whenever you move to different software. I don't find the interface of GIMP any better, or worse than Photoshop; its just different, and actually if any of you have ever used Photoshop for Mac the GIMP interface is very similar as far as the different windows on the desktop. I'm also experimenting with what tools are available for RAW images. I usually use a combination of Photoshop, and LightRoom. It would be great if I can eventually accomplish the same work under linux without booting up the Mac, or running software like Crossover to the Windows versions of the Adobe software.

GaryJames member for about 15 years GaryJames 4 comments
about 14 years ago

Pointless J. Donner? It seems logical to ask Gimp users, how would anyone know the answer unless they used both programs? The assumption here here is that the responders are familiar with both programs.

J. Donner
about 14 years ago

With all respect, but asking on a Gimp forum "Can GIMP replace Photoshop?" is rather pointless in my view and the many rather inaccurate comments about Photoshop only pove this.

over 14 years ago

Im someone that never used Gimp or Photoshop before. Then I took sereral photoshop classes in college for a computer graphics degree.

I downloaded Gimp and found the learning curve to be the same for me. I think if you learn one learning the other is easy. The differences in the learning curve is not a hard curve like 3D Studio Max and Blender.

I call Gimp a Ah Ha program. Ah ha same tools.
Inkscape and Scribus is another Ah ha.

over 14 years ago

There's Pixelmator (60 USD, Mac only) and Pixel (33 EURO) for those who want other options.

juan diegas
over 14 years ago

why shouldn't GIMP try to upset Photoshop? It can be better, or at least that should be the goal. Let Adobe sit fat and happy on their laurels.
Plug-ins aside, how long would it take to make it better than Photoshop?

over 14 years ago

Hmm... Seems to me that many of you PS users are more worried about straying away from the norm. I thought that going against the grain was an artist's job...I may have been mislead.

But the fact is I skyped with my friend and we made the same manipulations to a photo and mines was faster and better on a larger scale!

over 14 years ago

I'm a pro ui developer and i own all the adobe software, but find myself using gimp 4 out of 5 times for common tasks. I just find it easier. Commonly used features take fewer clicks to get to in Gimp vs photoshop. I do most raster blending in Gimp then import into Flash and do vector layouts because of the ultra fast vector tools (much more usable than illustrator and 10x faster) and much simpler layer control and nmanipulation. Finally I re-export to raster and retweek settings using either gimp or PS. Using gimp and flash together I work a LOT faster than with Photoshop. Photoshop is great - but geez - it takes 50 clicks to do stuff and there are just too many time consuming decisions. The limited feature set of Gimp combined with the elegant vector tools in flash really do the trick - this let's me get more creative without mucking around in 50,000 time consuming features and options - simpler tools, more creativity - and I produce first tier work for fortune 500 companies using this technique. I find photoshop just makes me get too technical and the use of prefab third party tools makes my work look like... everybody elses. Keep it simple and fast, because time is money and Gimp/Flash rocks.

James Tau
over 14 years ago

"...and CMYK for raster images??!! are you people still using silk screens for printing?"

CMYK process is used mainly by books, magazines, advertising flyers, posters, brochures, etc etc. Things that get printed in the thousands - CMYK process is much faster.

An amateur has all the spare time in the world to tweak their images and make a few prints. Professionals have deadlines and be able to deliver a product on time - whether it's low volume or in the thousands of copies. A four-color process provides that high volume and speed.

GIMP vs. Photoshop is like using a shovel to dig a ditch vs. bobcat. Both can do the same job more or less, but one is more efficient than the other. GIMP can probably accomplish everything photoshop can, if the user is given enough time to download and install all the plugins and configure the tools. If a color profile or Pantone support is not there, I suppose you can build you own library - but that takes time. Photoshop provides a complete solution in one package for us professionals.

almost 15 years ago

Been using PS for long time, now switched to Linux and GIMP and I think that, apart for the obvious initial period where you don't find the exact same features you're used to they're both good programs.

Sure, PS has a few things more, like miranda was saying but for the majority of users those are useless. I mean, I had people asking me for help to put two pics side by side in PS... I really doubt they would need layer folders or layer effects!
The reality is: if you're pro enough to need PS you won't have many problems to be able to afford it.
And if you like opensource you'll just stick to GIMP anyway.

almost 15 years ago

"Bob K wrote:
Is there a book I can purchase on Gimp 2.6.6?"

Yes there are books on gimp. Look on amazon.

@ Schmooley

You got lucky in life when it comes to money. Even in the well of western world there is poverty. Less visible but enough to not be able to affort €1000 on software. Ever seen the people who walk around with 4 year old cellphones that cost them $50 and has a pay as you go plan that they only use in emergencies?
Just because poor people don't flaunt their poverty, doesn't mean it isn't there.

As to GIMP vs Photoshop.
I think it's pretty clear to everyone that Photoshop overall, and especially when it comes to features is better.
But do all people need those features? I don't think so. I have been teaching people how to do some very basic stuff like making a signature picture for a forum. Just a rectange with a border, one or two pictures without background and some text.
I have been teaching in GIMP, and lots of them ask me how to do it in photoshop because they are photoshop users. Seriously, I doubt it very much if you don't know how to do this.

I started out with GIMP. Simply because I needed software to make a banner for a website. this was with version 2.2. I found it very hard to use as a beginner. The seperate windows for the docks were frustrating.
A few months ago I upgraded to version 2.6. For some reason I really took to it and love working with it. The docks are now docks and no longers windows in my taskbar.

I do all kinds of webdesign things with it and learn more and more about the features.

Recently I got a change to try out photoshop. Eager to learn this software that is supposed to be so much easier to use I find myself completely frustrated when I try to do the simplest things. It takes me forever. I can't find anything.
The tool icons are small and grey and you need to click and hold to see them all, but only then stil one by one.
The background is dark and grey and depressing.

I could go on, but my point is that the UI isn't as intuive as people say. And it's just as hard to learn as GIMP, if not harder. It's all about what you're used. So I can understand how Photoshop users can't just make the transision to GIMP. But I think it's unfair to blame GIMP, it's just how your brain is programmed.

For me, I will keep trying with Photoshop. I'd like to be able to use them both. But to be honest, I will use GIMP more. I don't need the extra features, and for most that Í do want, I can find a plug-in. And most importantly I'm used to it. I can do everything much quicker in it.

Also a very important thing is that the upgrades are free. Two upgrades can buy me a new computer, and honestly what is the use of having Photoshop without a computer? ;-)

almost 15 years ago

- I would rather Gimp was better than Photoshop. Maybe some people insist only professionals should have access to an image editor - but in real life image editing is as popular as computer games. With such demand for such editors - they by now should have been $50 each - and definetely not a thousand.

almost 15 years ago

I've been using photoshop for about six years now, but I decided I wanted to give ubuntu a try, so I've been using gimp when working on my ubuntu desktop.

First of all, I am very impressed with what Gimp is already able to do. I think in another five years Gimp might just evolve to a level that can realisticly compete with photoshop. However, as of now I think there are just a few rather important functions that gimp does not support.

For one thing, "non-descrutive, live-editable" layer effects are a very useful feature of photoshop. I've tried both the regular layer effects plugin and the python version that outputs a live preview. The python script is so slow that it really impedes work flow, and without a live preview using the other script... well, same problem - no workflow.

Second - I've got to have layer groups or folders. Without that, layers can get out of hand in a hurry.

Third - I need a shape tool. I've tried the shape plugin, and I know you can import shapes from Inkscape, but again, it's a work flow thing.

Fourth - Recordable actions are a very helpful feature in PS that GIMP does not have.

Fifth - No fill adjustment available in GIMP. In photoshop I find that using a combination of layer effects, fill adjustments, and shapes, can create some very interesting effects. There could be a way to work around this in GIMP and I haven't learned it yet, but I am guessing that the result would be less flexible.

Sixth - No "snapshot" in the undo list. Being able to take a snap shot of any given state in Photoshop is very helpful. I'm actually hoping that GIMP will add this and make it better than photoshop. I'd love to be able to take "undo snapshots" and save them with the file, that would really open up opportunities for creative experimentation.

That being said, there are some things that I like better about GIMP. Despite what people say about the GUI, I actually think it works well. I think those who complain just want it to be PS. I myself have found the GIMP interface fairly intuitive and easy to find the things I need. The transformation tools are a nice addition and easy to use. The fact that I can't adjust brush size with a right click flyout is annoying though. I wish that the programmers would add it to the flyout menu. Other than that, I like how the right click flyout menu works now.

I've explored the gegle toools a bit and I can see some goodness on the horizon if that receives more attention. I am wondering if The Gegle project will bring layer effects to GIMP in the future? If that takes off, and layer groups are added, I can live without actions and shapes for a while and will gladly spend some more time now learning to use GIMP, knowing that the upcoming versions will add these functions.

Anyhoo - GIMP is an incredible program as it stands now. I tried it out about five years ago, and didn't care for it at the time. I think it's come a long way and is just getting better and better. Keep up the good work everybody, and thank you for bringing a great creative application to the open source community!

Sorry for the typos and bad grammar - I am in a hurry!

Bob K.
almost 15 years ago

Gimp is better compared to Paintshop Pro then Photoshop.

almost 15 years ago

I'm having both Gimp and Photoshop at my animation studio, trying to use Gimp as much as possible with a long time goal to completely migrate to Gimp.
I do however often have a lot of layers in my images and Gimp does not yet feature layer-folders. Nor does it support Macros and batch-editing which I rely heavily on.
So for now I'm stuck with Photoshop for a lot of tasks.

JBAphoto member for almost 15 years JBAphoto 1 comment
almost 15 years ago

. . .are you people still using silk screens for printing?

No, but I still use charcoal and etching and my photography is strictly silver based black and white. My little mate Wilbur does everything I want.

To my shame I have a LEGAL copy of PS CS2 which I never use.

Regarding priority of money allocation, the cost of PS is about the same as a second hand Leica lens or an exhibition worth of materials.

almost 15 years ago

GIMP works great in a pinch for some simple layered editing, and I really do enjoy using it, but in my opinion, until it leaves GTK behind and moves over to a real X-platform library like QT, it's crap by virtue of it's GUI library.

Everything I hate about GIMP is the exact same thing I HATE about Gnome. It's a window manager for labotomy patients. Sucks Nutz, but GIMP itself, I love it.

almost 15 years ago

Really absurd guys. Don't give me the rubbish about cant afford it. Sure, there are those people in less fortunate countries that truly cannot afford it, but here in the western world, I inevitably hear this rubbish "I can't afford this or that" from people walking around, talking on $200-$600 cell phones.

It's a case of priorities, plain and simple.

Bob K.
almost 15 years ago

Quote: "That sounds as if you are a 15 year old boy who is afraid of being rejected by his peers when he does not wear the right shoes or attend the right parties."
No it's a reality!. Photoshop is the dominant professionals choice. Hence why it is way better supported and documented. Is there a book I can purchase on Gimp 2.6.6?. Like the vast array of Photoshop CS 4 books.

Paul B.
almost 15 years ago

I've been using Photoshop for the last 12 years and my skills have improved while moving along to CS3. I did make some experiences in Paint.NET as well as GIMP and both tools were hard to work with for me since I'm used to PS. Paint.NET I abandoned alltogether but GIMP is an alternative that might once be on an almost equal level as PS. I just stumpled upon GimPhoto/GimPad which makes GIMP look alike PS in some manners which makes it easier for me to learn the differences but still it takes me around ten times longer in GIMP to do sth I know PS is easily capable of. But since I am still learning GIMP, this time difference will change.

So after all, I try to transfer some tasks to GIMP but for the integration and my other needs (Flash, InDesign) I'll probably stick with CS for a while.

Anony M.
almost 15 years ago

"That's all fine. But Photoshop is still the "standard" and is used by more professional photographers than Gimp. Most professional photogrpahers think of Gimp as fine for casual users, not professionals. Thousands of people attend the Photoshop World Conference and Expo every year. how many professional photographers attend the Libre Graphics Meeting?"

That sounds as if you are a 15 year old boy who is afraid of being rejected by his peers when he does not wear the right shoes or attend the right parties.

Bob K.
almost 15 years ago

That's all fine. But Photoshop is still the "standard" and is used by more professional photographers than Gimp. Most professional photogrpahers think of Gimp as fine for casual users, not professionals. Thousands of people attend the Photoshop World Conference and Expo every year. how many professional photographers attend the Libre Graphics Meeting?. Photoshop is the most used, documented, and supported photo editor on the planet. I challenge every Gimp designer to make Gimp equal in "every" feature as Photoshop. Or better yet more features!. And create a Gimp version similar to Adobe Light Room. And market it big time. So every professional photogrpaher on the planet learns about it and uses it. If Adobe doesn't bring their products to Linux, than we need to make better applications than their's. This will be the only way we can get better adoption of Linux among professional photographers/video editing shops.

Aunt Spray
almost 15 years ago

Here's an opinion from a 15 year design veteren: Photoshop is an outdated holdover from the Windows 3.0 era of interface. That is reality. After using Gimp about 5 years ago, I realized the efficiency in the open-source model. The ability to drag and drop images into it etc is reason enough for me to use it in a professional manner....and CMYK for raster images??!! are you people still using silk screens for printing?

Jeff M
almost 15 years ago

if gimp was $6000 I would still use it over PS.. I have use gimp for personal project and for professional purposes. I learned on PS. Gimp is way more useful

Just my two cents

Bob K.
almost 15 years ago

As it stands no!. Only if a large amount of funds can go into the gimp project and full time developers are hired to work on it full time. Photoshop is the standard so realistically it can't be replaced for professionals. What we need is Photoshop for Linux. Don't flame me!. It is a fact of reality. Professional photographers will not replace Photoshop with Gimp for their professional workflow. Same with Autocad!.

vic lawson
almost 15 years ago

Never used Photoshop...never even owned a camera untill two days ago. A local photo artist in my town told me 'bout GIMP and since he loves it AND it's free, well, screw photoshop!

John Culleton
almost 15 years ago

Gimp is still weak in the publishing area. It won't produce a CMYK color model file (But Krita will, TeX will, Scribus will etc.) and the Postscript output
function hasn't been updated in years.

Gimpster member for over 15 years Gimpster 5 comments
almost 15 years ago

Sam-- I do not know much about shrinking images. For up-sizing, however, I have found GIMP's image scaling, if set for "Sinc(Lanczos3)" interpolation, at least as good as the well-regarded program Genuine Fractals. Better than PShop.

nw42-- 1)I must agree, I really like how layer effects are handled in PShop. 2)Non destructive editing can be worked around. 3)My computer is a 3 gHz Pentium IV, not too fast by today's standards. GIMP runs well with 10 megapixel images with up to about 10 layers, so I have not bothered to compare the speed of GIMP vs. PShop. Are you working with much larger images or way more layers?

almost 15 years ago

I'm just learning GIMP and find it great. Never tried photoshop. I just don't have that kind of money. My only problem with GIMP is that image scaling (particularly shrinking images) doesn't produce sharp results. Paint.Net seems to give better results for resizing and even Firefox 3 seems to do better with: Zoom out -> Print Screen -> Paste.

almost 15 years ago

Gimp has mde great progress but isn't a real alternative to PS currently because it still has the old odd layer management - no groups - no layer FX - no non destructive editing...
and Gimp is slow on lager images...

hope to see some progress with the help of GEGL but currecntly I don't know how to organize a complex layout out of many objects with Gimp...

some thing I realy like in Gimp is the ability to work dual screen: 1. screen windows - toolbars and zoomed image - 2. screen 100% scale fullscren image output without windows and controls - great thing!!

Byron member for almost 15 years Byron 1 comment
almost 15 years ago

Im useing both GIMP and CS3 and have found that I have to re-learn many things just because both programs are that diffrent. I would like one day to not have to use photoshop but much work needs to be done to make the gimp a PS replacment

GaryJames member for about 15 years GaryJames 4 comments
almost 15 years ago

Has anyone installed the PSPI Plug-In and imported a Photoshop plug-in? I am interested in what would be a worthwhile plug-in and what actually works in Gimp.

Gimpster member for over 15 years Gimpster 5 comments
about 15 years ago

I learned photo editing using Photoshop Ver.5 through CS3. Part of my switch to GIMP was a preference for open source, community-driven, community-supported software. When I went to Linux, I also switched to GIMP. Microsoft and Adobe are constantly trying to sell minor upgrades, for a large fee, which is unpleasant. Or, one can download "cracked" versions-- they work just fine. But I do not care to use software against the author's wishes. Guilt is bad karma!

I am aware of some functions present in Photoshop but not in GIMP. However,including for professional purposes, GIMP is one of the best and most capable image editors ever developed.

about 15 years ago

i just like gimp as it is! it fits all my need with digital image manipulation! thanks to all the developers for this great product!

about 15 years ago

I can't justify purchasing Photoshop. For me, the real battle is between GIMP and Paint.NET. GIMP is more powerful, but it is easier to use Pain.NET for simple photo editing.

I'm curious to see how both products develop. I know the Paint.NET developers are planning to include more powerful tools in the future. It will be interesting to see what GIMP does from a software useability standpoint.

Carusoswi member for about 15 years Carusoswi 3 comments
about 15 years ago

Gimp stands tall against the collection of open source software as at least one example where the average user makes little compromise in terms of features and usability in sticking to the open source route. IMO, you won't find open source tools equally competent at their respective tasks in other areas of 'computerdom'. Office applications, page layout applications, video editing applications, audio editing applications - in these areas, open source is significantly behind the expensive proprietary offerings in terms of features, capability, and integration.

GIMP is not that lacking in photo editing features when compared to PS - sure, there are a few absnet features to which PS adherents can point, but for most users, these are not significant. Furthermore, that gap, however large or small, will be closed one day.

I have CS4 and GIMP, and find myself gravitating more and more to GIMP because I like the fact that it is open source, that it is so capable, that it will be upgraded for free, that I don't have to purchase other applications designed to compliment it.

about 15 years ago

The $600 + price tag is a concern for anyone who would not be using Photoshop for professional purposes. But the real problem is not the $600 but the price tag for CS5 and on. Lightroom may be nice but it is another $200 or so along with every other plugin which costs as much as a program. Fine if you are a professional, you pass on these costs to your customers. I can't afford to be in this upgrade cycle. So I chose to expend my energies in learning GIMP. It is raw power and it has been interesting achieving effects from basic manipulations of pixels. However, for most people the amateur level products may be the best route to choose. They cost around 100 and need a lot less effort to learn.

cypher000 member for about 15 years cypher000 1 comment
about 15 years ago

I have Photoshop. I also have Gimp, but although I want to use Gimp more, I can't, because try how I may I just cannot get the plug-ins that I want to load in. Okay I use Debian 5.0 and am happy with it. Lots of clever folk are writing plug-ins for Gimp that I need, but when will someone write a program that will make it simple for me to load in the plug-ins? Until I can load in the plug-ins I can never use Gimp to it's full potential. Shame.

about 15 years ago

I used a "trial" copy of PS to see if I could use it to enhance my photographs. It indeed could, but how on earth was I to afford the exhorbitant cost to make it legal? Then I came across GIMP about 4 months ago! Although my learning curve is still very steep, GIMP does everything I require. For amateurs and casual users I would definitely recommend GIMP over PS.

about 15 years ago

I use both Gimp and Photoshop. I offer the following observations:
1) I find gimp easier to teach to children and generally to understand how to do the basics.
2) Photoshop (CS4) is significantly faster than gimp for many operations.
3) in Photoshop some activities allow you to zoom in and see the effect as you apply it while gimp limits you to small windows.
4) The "auto" functions in Photoshop seem to give me results I like better sometimes.
5) Overall, I do not find Photoshop's additional features justify the huge cost difference or the increased complexity. However since it integrates tightly with Flash and other Adobe tools I use, I will continue to use this version.

about 15 years ago

The only reason I keep an old copy of Pshop 6.0 on my PC is that fact that GIMP can't print. I've a nice Canon printer, 6 color, that spits out garbage from GIMP. From Photoshop, the nice 4x6 borderless prints I so crave.

Jack Kessler
about 15 years ago

In addition to the money issue, which is not a small one, there is the mindshare issue. Neither software is simple to use. There are, one should pardon the expression, layers upon layers of things to learn about each. Once one has invested that much time and trial-and-error effort (the documentation for GIMP is even less useful than that for Photoshop IMO), in one or the other of these two, that is the preferred software more or less indefinitely.

The big advantage Photoshop has over GIMP is not the fine details of this feature or set of features or that. It is the fact that Adobe has created a number of complementary softwares that extend the usefulness of Photoshop, notably Lightroom. There are also no end of third party plug-ins.

I could be wrong, but to my knowledge there is no free equivalent of Lightroom.