Adobe Photoshop is one of the most popular photo and image manipulation programs out there. But, the high cost of this product can make it prohibitive to people on a budget. GIMP is a popular free alternative to Photoshop, but many people wonder: can GIMP do everything that Photoshop can?
GIMP offers many of the same features that Photoshop does. Both are incredibly useful for professional photographers and graphic designers alike. However, Photoshop is compatible with a wider range of file formats and color profiles, has more precise tools, and uses non-destructive editing.
Below, we’ll discuss some of the similarities and differences between GIMP and Photoshop. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to decide which program is best for you.
GIMP is a free, open-source program available for all computer platforms, including Mac, Windows, and Linux. It’s similar to Photoshop in many ways, making it a popular alternative to the Adobe product for graphic designers and photographers on a budget.
Generally, GIMP is a sufficient alternative to Photoshop. Both programs offer a wide range of tools, and both are relatively user-friendly and easy to learn. In addition to this, GIMP and Photoshop are both updated on a regular basis, constantly improving over time.
Adobe recommends that you have at least 4 GB of available space on your hard drive before you install Photoshop. GIMP, on the other hand, requires as little as 200 MB, as long as you don’t have any additional plugins installed. For this reason, people who don’t have the most powerful computers or little space to spare on their hard drive tend to turn to GIMP.
GIMP is usually best for beginners or those on a budget. While it does work similarly to Photoshop, it can’t do everything that Photoshop can do. Both have their advantages, but as a rule of thumb, paid software will always offer more than free programs.
While Photoshop and GIMP offer many of the same features, there are a few things that Photoshop can do that GIMP does not currently offer. Some of the areas where Photoshop has the edge over GIMP include:
- Better tools
- CMYK color mode
- RAW file compatibility
- Non-destructive editing
Below, we’ll discuss these four components more in detail. Then, you can decide if it’s worth it for you to choose a paid option like Photoshop over a free program like GIMP.
One of the main reasons that people use GIMP as an alternative to Photoshop is because both programs offer similar tools. You can add layers, sharpen or blur certain parts of an image, and add different masks to your photos. While both programs generally offer the same basic functions, Photoshop’s are much more powerful.
GIMP is best used when you’re editing images as a whole. But, if you want to manipulate individual pixels, Photoshop is best. Many of Photoshop’s tools come with an array of settings and options that determine precisely how they’ll work with your image, and GIMP’s tools are much more limited in comparison.
If you’ll be using GIMP or Photoshop to create images or graphics that you’ll later print for physical uses, you might be curious about the different color modes that both programs offer. While GIMP only supports RGB (red, green, blue) color mode, Photoshop supports both RGB and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color modes.
CMYK color mode displays colors more accurately and in-depth. It’s the most often-used color profile for professional photographers to print high-quality photos for commercial use. While there is a way to use CMYK color mode in GIMP, it’s more complicated and requires you to download a separate plugin. If you’re a professional photographer or in any other professional field that requires you to print your work, using Photoshop is probably the better option.
Most professional-quality cameras shoot in RAW format. When you have to convert these files into JPEG, PNG, or any other format before opening them in your editing software, it lowers the quality of the image.
One of the best things about Photoshop is that it’s completely compatible with RAW files. This allows you to keep the same amount of information within the file as the original shot, greatly improving the image’s quality even after you finish editing. If you want to edit RAW format images in GIMP, you’ll need a separate plugin, and even then, the image quality usually is not as high.
In the image manipulation world, there are two types of edits you can make: destructive edits and non-destructive edits. Destructive editing means that, once you save an image after making your edits, you completely rewrite the original and there’s no way to revert the changes.
Non-destructive editing, on the other hand, allows you to go back and revert any changes you make to an image, regardless of whether you’ve saved the new file or not.
Photoshop, in conjunction with Adobe Lightroom, works through non-destructive editing. You can go back and undo any changes you make, no matter how long ago the changes were made. GIMP, on the other hand, uses destructive editing. As soon as you save the edited image, there’s no going back.
While GIMP does not have the exact same capabilities as Adobe Photoshop, it does offer many of the same tools and functions. Photoshop’s tools are better for making small, incredibly specific edits, while GIMP’s are better suited for whole-image manipulation.
While GIMP only offers RGB color mode, Photoshop includes CMYK color mode for higher-quality prints. Photoshop is also compatible with a wider range of file formats, and best of all, it features non-destructive editing. Overall, it’s up to you to decide which program is your best fit. Consider your budget, the type of editing you do, and the space you have available on your computer before making the final decision.