Gimp vs Photoshop banner

Gimp vs Photoshop - Is gimp as good as Photoshop?

XPPen 2023-08-25 09:25:26 5 min read

Photoshop is so ingrained in photo-editing, it is used as a verb to describe an edited photo. Photoshop is very expensive though, and the price is often not worth it to the "average joe" or "average jane" (can't forget the lady geeks!) This is likely the reason it is heavily pirated.

There are alternatives though, and the biggest and best of those is most likely GIMP. GIMP is regarded as a very good image editor and even a free alternative to Photoshop, but never regarded as a replacement. There could be, and likely is, real, logical, statistical reasons for this, but at least part of this, is Photoshop has a trusted name that IS image editing. This gives a professional appeal to Photoshop, and makes it ideal for professional image editors, due not only to any aspects of Photoshop that are superior to alternatives, but by being able to associate themselves with the Photoshop name while seeking clients.

These factors contribute to the ongoing debate of Photoshop vs GIMP:
-- Is GIMP as good as Photoshop?
-- Why should I pay for Photoshop when GIMP is free?
-- What can Photoshop do that GIMP doesn't?
-- Are the advantages of Photoshop worth the hefty price tag for me?

While most will say that GIMP is not as good as Photoshop, it is good enough to where the remaining questions carry the actual weight.

There is no doubt that Photoshop is a very well built program. Photoshop is built so well, in fact, it has become the unofficial standard for other imaging programs, including GIMP. The standards that Photoshop set forth are the options that it offers to edit images.

GIMP follows this standard well, except for one major thing. GIMP is broken into multiple windows, including the Windows version of the software. Since GIMP is open source, there are variants of GIMP (ex: GIMPshop), most all changing the program to run in a single window, in the same way that Photoshop does. The multiple window setup of GIMP can actually get somewhat annoying, due to it not following the basic design of 99% of Windows programs.

I do Used photoshop and gimp for a long time but gradually transitioned to gimp as it evolved. Honestly, there isn't much that I feel is lacking in gimp. Certain tasks are not as streamlined and the UI/workflow for all the filters aren't as unified but once you learn how to use it, it's just as powerful.

You can do a lot of the same things that photoshop can do and it has a similar layout and tools. There is a large library of plug in for it, and effect filters, and those are also free. So being FREE and those other things are major bonuses for me . Also if you really want it do something specific that is doesn't already do... you can try your had at writing that script or editing the program yourself.

One of the main reasons why I eventually moved to gimp is I work on both Linux and Windows so with Gimp, I don't have to switch between two different interfaces.

Adobe Photoshop is a very powerful photo editing and graphic design software tool, but most people don't need it.

Photoshop have its own Adobe economy and some of its important tools are much more mature. Also the whole application is better suited for professionals, which can be seen as superior too.

GIMP gains quite a bit of leeway from being free. The interface and UX is a bit weird, but it's free. It doesn't do everything Photoshop can do out of the box and and doing very simple things can be more of a headache than need be , but it's free, etc etc.

GIMP Does everything Photoshop does with the exception of supporting Lab color mode, and CMYK, which I have never used or needed. Especiallly if you're just starting out and you may find that you never need half the features of either of them. It depends completely on what you want to do with your pics.

GIMP has the usual things you'd need for photo editing; layers, airbrush, clone/heal, curves, masks, fuzzy and foreground selection, and filters like Gaussian Blur, Unsharp Mask; it also has some very good photo-related plugins like Wavelet Decompose for skin retouching, and Anisotropic+Patch-based smoothing for denoising (part of the GMIC plugin). If you use the beta or nightly builds, you get high bit depth support – for a photographer this means you can apply filters many times without getting banding/posterisation due to "rounding errors" (clipping). GIMP also got a content aware fill plugin before Photoshop even :)

On the minus side, GIMP does not yet have adjustment layers, so you'll have to make do with things like extra layer copies and masks. Non-destructive editing – which is a generalisation of adjustment layers – is planned for version 3.2 I believe (the devs are currently "almost done" porting filters and tools over to a new underlying editing engine that supports non-destructive editing, but it also needs a user interface etc.). The other major reason for preferring Photoshop is if you are dependent on certain Photoshop plugins/filters – although GIMP can run some Photoshop plugins some of the time, it's very hit and miss, so even if GIMP could do everything Photoshop could, it'd still struggle with that network effect.

Photoshop does a better job of putting handy tools in clear and easy reach and simplifying otherwise complex tasks within it's native UI, where in GIMP you'd have to use a plugin or another application entirely if you wanted to, say, create a panorama . In that regard, GIMP isn't the Swiss Army knife suite of tools that Adobe CC offers. And as for plugins, Photoshop gets a huge hand-up from Google who bought and then released the NIK collection for free, and it's quite popular.

The latest Photoshop has some really nice features like it's smart cloning/filling and things like that, that Gimp doesn't have yet. The plug ins and effects aren't typically as polished as their equivalents in PS would be. There are more PS users, so it's easier to find help and resources for PS. And finally because there aren't as many plugins and filters, you have to learn how to achieve many of the looks and effects manually. This is a plus and a minus. It's good to actually know what is going on, but it takes longer.

If GIMP is being open source bothers you, just make sure you are downloading it from it's official source. Keep up to date protection on your computer as you should be doing anyway, and don't go downloading plugins and scripts from crazy sources unless you are willing to risk it.

Gimp owes its development to professionals, books about Gimp and for Gimp users are written by professionals for users from novice to professional . Gimp is amazing for being an open source software and it's improved greatly in a short time, but Photoshop has way more financial backing and way more features that Gimp won't catch up with for a long time.

If you search the web for Gimp forums, you'll find ample resources and plenty of Gimp specific tutorials. It's pretty handy, and there are video tutorials out there for most common tasks. You may want to grab an extension pack to pick up a few really helpful tools. I use Wavelet Decompose pretty often. It has a large, active development community (important for any FOSS application) adding to its already large plugin library daily.

That just doesn't say much. Both are tools, a good artist can do great stuff with whatever tool out there - but there's no denying that Photoshop is just not matched by any other 2d image editing software out there.

About Us

Originated from 2005, XPPen is now one of the top brands under HANVON UGEE, integrated with digital drawing products, content and service as a globally notable digital brand of digital art innovation.

Learn more


Join Our Newsletter Today
Stay in the loop with our latest artistic innovations and special offers

Leave a Comment