'The Book of GIMP' Leaves No Detail Behind
The Book of GIMP is not a magical cure for overcoming the steep learning curve before you can use GIMP like a pro. However, its design takes readers a long way toward achieving success. It accomplishes the two purposes its authors intended: It provides hands-on, task-oriented GIMP tutorials. It also provides a comprehensive reference manual.
The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything
By Olivier Lecarme and Karine Delvare
No Starch Press
January 2013, 676 pp.
US$49.95 print book with free e-book
$39.95 e-book (PDF, Mobi, ePub)
The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything combines a step-by-step approach to learning how to use this epic graphic image manipulation program (hence the name "GIMP") with a handy reference manual supplemented with very useful appendices. Whether you are a GIMP beginner or a veteran user, this book will save you hours of trial and error when editing graphics files.
It is not the only useful instructional guide on navigating through the difficult photo editing app, but it is one of the most current options available. It focuses on the latest iteration of GIMP, version 2.8.
I've used GIMP for many years, often being forced to reach for a variety of self-help sources to complete a graphical editing task. The Book of GIMP, released this month, is an excellent teach-yourself alternative.
Working With Images
GIMP is a free, open source replacement to the commercial graphic editing standard, Adobe Photoshop, but learning how to use its professional-strength features can be an exercise in futility.
The latest version of GIMP has countless improvements and new tools, which only add to the challenge of mastering GIMP. Lecarme and Delvare's approach can greatly reduce the frustrations encountered when striving for GIMP proficiency.
A Comfortable Read
Reading a book that describes how to use a software program is a method that doesn't work for everyone. The skill-based learning that photo manipulation tools require typically are conveyed more effectively through hands-on learning. That is the teaching style presented in the first part of The Book of GIMP.
Part 1 contains tutorials that take you one skill at a time through essential GIMP features. For example, each of the opening eight chapters gives you a solid understanding of how to complete real photo editing tasks. Even the indexing structure is effective. The basic GIMP layout is shown in Brief Contents. This is supplemented with a more detailed listing, Contents in Detail, that lets you home in on specific tasks.
Each chapter starts with a hands-on tutorial and ends with exercises that reinforce those concepts. An even handier find-it device is available in the traditional index at the back of the book. There you can locate specific topics cross-referenced by editing functions with page listings.
This multifaceted indexing system to the content may be all that you need to speed up your progress. You can jump directly to how-to guides with actual color pictures and detailed explanations for key editing tasks. These include getting started, photograph retouching, drawing and illustration, and working with logos and textures.
This method also helps you to handle more advanced editing techniques within the first part of the book. You can quickly focus on Composite Photography, Animation, Image Preprocessing and Designing a Website.
Some of these skills are part of major editing and image manipulation functions GIMP handles. Part 1 also addresses introductory-level basic tasks. Some users never need more than a working competency in areas such as resizing and cropping images, touching up spots and scratches, and customizing the work area.
Part 2 serves as a detailed reference to GIMP's many features. For example, you get primers on color balancing, masks, filters and plug-ins. These tutorials are amply illustrated with color and black-and-white screenshots of actual editing processes within the GIMP user interface.
This second section contains 14 chapters and is the largest, most comprehensive section of the book. Part 3 is much shorter with five appendices. It is possibly worth the price of the book if you only read through its tips and helpful hints.
It contains reference guides for Vision and Image Representation, Tips and Hints for Selected Exercises, Resources, Frequently Asked Questions, Installing GIMP and Batch Processing.
About the Authors
Olivier Lecarme, a professor emeritus in computer science at the University of Nice, France, has a doctorate in computer science. He has taught many aspects of computer science, including programming language fundamentals and graphics processing.
Karine Delvare, a Web-development consultant, has a master's degree in computer science with a specialization in image and sound. She lives in Merignac, France.