New GIMP 2.6 Gives Photoshop a Run for Its Money

gimp.jpgThe developers behind the GNU Image Manipulation Program, better known as GIMP, have released a new version that features a major overhaul to the program’s user interface. The result is a version of GIMP that behaves much more like Photoshop and makes a very capable replacement for those not locked into an Adobe workflow.

Perhaps the most welcome change to the UI is that the palettes (toolbox and docks in GIMP parlance) are now utility windows, which means that they won’t show up in your dock or task bar as separate windows — a long-requested feature for GIMP.

GIMP 2.6 doesn’t move to a single unified window, as Photoshop has done, but it does now feature an “empty image window’ which acts as a container for all your open images. That means that closing an image no longer closes the app and it also means there’s drag-and-drop support for opening images.

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The result is a much more pleasant UI experience, which has the secondary benefit of being much more familiar to those coming from various versions of Photoshop.

Aside from the interface changes, GIMP 2.6 also represents a huge leap forward on the image-depth front. Although many people claim that GIMP is a viable replacement for Photoshop, professional designers have long balked at the GIMP’s limited color depth — 8 bits per color channel.

GIMP 2.6 moves to remedy this issue with the new GEGL image back end, which includes support for 32-bit images. For the time being the GEGL support is experimental and disabled by default, but you can turn it on by heading to Colors >> Use GEGL.

The new version of GIMP also includes a much more robust plug-in framework.

If you’d like to read about the rest of the changes, head over to release notes, and for a look at some more changes in store for the GIMP UI, be sure to read through the redesign wiki page.

GIMP 2.6 is free download for all platforms. Grab your copy from the downloads page.

[screenshot from GIMP.org]

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