Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Get some GIMPTITUDE - don't be a GIMP wimp!

What, you think I am going to show you how to do stuff in GIMP? Hey, like I said I'm a guide not a trainer. My job is to tweak you! Come on, it's net search time!

So I found some basic intro videos that went over some of the basic tools. I like vector drawing and am an Inkscape fan. I heard you can do vector drawing in GIMP also, it is called Paths. The icon in the toolbox looks like a fountain pen. In the drawing area the tool draws points to outline a shape. You can move the points and alter the lines between the points. There are keyboard controls and the 'Paths' dialogue box to deal with. When the path is made you can have a line 'stroke' the path or apply any brush to paint the path.

This all made questions pop into my head. What's the diff between vectors in GIMP and vectors in Inkscape? If I can do vectors in GIMP what do I need Inkscape for? They handle vectors in different ways, so I must discover what the diffs are and how that is useful to me. OK, in GIMP vectors are used to construct shapes but the resulting shapes are bit-mapped. In Inkscape everything is vectors and the resulting shapes are vectors, but you can export a copy as a bit-map.

Now, don't forget when you make bit-mapped pictures larger the pixels get further apart, the image gets fuzzier. With vectors the same drawing can be stretched from postage stamp size to bill-board size and have the same sharpness.

Take each tool you want to use and see how it works. The videos are a great help as I am often not a patient book reader or a step by step instruction follower. I get the gist and run with it. Now wait a minute! Slow down! While in the act of playing around, focus your attention on one tool (say the Path tool), learn enough about it to enhance your play and exploration (serious play). Then you need a project to confirm your training (constructive serious play). Make a desktop background or a logo banner. You can build on your knowledge and progress over time, before you know it you are doing complex work-flows quickly, with good results and having fun too.

Now I very much like Inkscape because it is like the CAD software I have lots of experience with. GIMP though is mostly a free-hand drawing, painting and photo editing application. I have sketched with a pen, but I've yet to perfect doing it with a mouse and as I complained in the past, my Wacom Graphire Tablet has the jittery cursor really bad on my laptop. This is the caveat when doing computer art, hardware and software are interdependent tools, you got to spend time to get good at it, but they have to work right too. So, take your time, sharpen your skills via serious play. Before you know it your GIMP wimptituity is over.

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