The best GIMP plugins for photography

Trick your photo editing, retouching with these GIMP extensions

GIMP graphic design open-source software logo on a brown grocery sack Why pay hundreds of dollars for PhotoShop when you can get something just as powerful at no cost? Well, there probably are a few arguably legitimate reasons… Adobe PhotoShop is certainly the golden standard in graphic design. However, the longer I use the GIMP to handle my graphic arts needs, digital photo editing, logo experimentation, and so forth, the more impressed I am with this very capable open source software. As impressive and powerful as the GIMP’s default installation is, GIMP users can find and install dozens or even hundreds of plugins – each of which adds a bit of new capability to the graphic design software. There are even plugins which allow GIMP to behave more like Photoshop.

Here are some of the more popular GIMP plugins that are well-suited for the process of editing photos and retouching your digital photography. That’s right: one can photoshop with the GIMP as well as one can photoshop a person into a picture with Photoshop.

GIMP - great for photo editing, open source software
Antique Photo Border – Simulates a yellowed, slightly jagged border recalling those of old photography; after copying it into GIMP’s scripts folder, you will find the plugin via Filters -> Decor -> Antique Photo Border.

Blue Sky Gradient – Great for adding a blue sky gradient to burned-out or white skies; use threshold mask; see also the Guide to Using Blue Sky

Blue Sky & Clouds – Similar to Blue Sky Gradient (above); see also the Guide to using Blue Sky & Clouds

G’MIC: GREYC’s Magic Image Converter – proposes a set of various filters to apply on your images, including artistic effects, image denoising and enhancement algorithms, 3D renderers, etc; this large plug-in integrates many different effects.

Midnight Sepia Script – Implements midnight sepia effect; see also more info, examples, discussion

GIMP - great for photo editing, open source software
Wavelet Denoise – The wavelet denoise plugin is a tool to reduce noise in each channel of an image separately. The default colour space to do denoising is YCbCr which has the advantage that chroma noise can be reduced without affecting image details. Denoising in CIELAB (L*a*b*) or RGB is available as an option. The user interface allows colour mode and preview channel selection. The denoising threshold can be set for each colour channel independently.

National Geographic – This script simulates a high quality (portrait) photo like these from the National Geographic; after copying it into the GIMP scripts folder, you will find it under Filters -> Generic -> National Geographic.

Liquid Rescale – This plugin aims to resize pictures non-uniformly while preserving their features so as to avoid distortion of the important aspects; see also the official Liquid Rescale page, a Liquid Rescale video, and the Liquid Rescale Library

Image Subdivide – Subdivide the image in M Rows x N Columns and save any rectangular portion in the new files; see also the subdivide tutorial (in Italian, but Google will translate it for you)

Split tone – Uses one color for highlights and another for shadows; similar to (same as?) sepia tone

3D Screenshot – Turn a boring ol’ flat image into a stylish 3D-shadowed-glowing photo

Pseudo Tone Fixer (landscape tone fixer) – This script tries to fix the tone of a photo taken with wrong exposure; in some nature or landscape photos, this will nicely enhancing the colors; the general idea is to produce different copies of the image at different gamma levels, then applying simple tone mapping techniques to produce a vibrant photo.

Interpolation Plugin – Works by doing plane/curve fitting and calculating weighted averages; takes samples from a grid of pixels from ‘known’ image areas, attempts to fit a plane or a curve to each, then uses those samples to estimate the ‘unknown’ image areas. NOTE: Gets rid of spots and other things that perhaps shouldn’t be there.

Other GIMP resources

I found these GIMP links during a prolonged Google Images search for variations of the GIMP logo, fox, book covers, etc.

  • Archive for the ‘GIMP’ Category – Jimmac’s personal site, with one (1) blog post in the Movies category and 334 posts in the Uncategorized section (just messin’ with ya, Jimmac 🙂 – hey, I really dig your art, those comic sketches of the robot! Here are some of my old sketches; I miss drawing…)
  • GIMP 2.6 Cookbook – Review – Over 50 recipes to produce amazing graphics with the GIMP
  • Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional – GoodReads – This book explains how to use the open source image manipulation program, GIMP version 2.4. You’ll learn how to install GIMP on Windows, Linux, and MacOS X platforms. Once you’ve installed the application, you’ll learn about the interface and configuration options, and then jump into a quick–and–simple project to familiarize yourself…
  • GIMP: The Unofficial Beginners Manual to the Free, Open Source, Photo Editor – Why pay hundreds of dollars for PhotoShop when you can get something just as powerful that is free?! It’s called GIMP…GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free graphic and image editing software program. GIMP is available for Mac, PC and Linux platforms. Since GIMP is open source, the software — including any upgrades — is available for free.
  • GIMP: The Official Handbook – Ebookee – Gimp: The Official Handbook is written by two Gimp experts and is the most comprehensive source of information available on this freely distributed image-manipulation program for the Open Source community. The only book to teach the entire program, including all built-in filters and third-party plug-ins. Beats the competition by teaching the program from cover to cover. Other books gloss over key features and focus on learning the program quickly, or are theoretical and provide no practical information on the product. Features a 32-page Color Studio with inspiring images readers can create by learning all of the program’s techniques in the book.
  • Book of GIMPNo Starch Press: The finest in geek entertainment – GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is the open source movement’s answer to Adobe Photoshop: a free, fully featured, professional-grade graphics editor. Half guidebook, half reference manual, The Book of GIMP is really two books in one. In the first half, readers follow full-color illustrated, step-by-step instructions to complete a series of projects, including retouching photos, animating logos, designing website visuals, and much more. In the process, they learn to harness GIMP’s power. Once readers have mastered GIMP, the second half of the book offers a comprehensive reference for its many features, including drawing tools, masks, filters, transformations, and plug-ins. With clear instructions for beginners and encyclopedic coverage for experts, The Book of GIMP is the definitive GIMP resource for all users, regardless of experience level.
  • GIMP 2 for Photographers – Desktop Linux
  • GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) – GIMP GNU Image Manipulation Program is one of my favorite open source programs. It is released under the GNU license like many of our previously featured programs and is Free-as-in-Beer and Free-as-in-Speech. It is simply an image editing software with features comparable to Photoshop. I like to describe it as a layer-based non-vectoring photo editor. It has many beautiful editing filters and it is pretty simple to figure out…

For later

  • 60+ (more) Advanced Photoshop & GIMP TutorialsDennis Plucinik’s Web Design Blog
  • Handy Tweaks To Make GIMP Replace Photoshop (2009) – Smashing Magazine
  • GIMP posts at Smashing Magazine