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Open Source Graphics Software - professional quality?
Anyone using open source graphics software to do professional qualty work?

 1:51 pm on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is open source software an option yet for doing serious graphics, especially digital photography (including extensive retouching)?



 4:43 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Inkscape works pretty good for a vector-based opne source program to replace Illustrator.


 6:48 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Paint.net is ... not ... that ... great
Sure, with some (read: a lot of) work you can accomplish certain things ... but it really sucks for creating advanced graphics.

Things that I personally look for:
* ability to create advanced selections, adding and removing selected areas, moving the selected area, inverting the selection, ability to save a selection for later re-use
* layer masks, layer grouping, layer effects that can be hidden if needed
* text transformation such as rotating and skewing while keeping text editable and crisp, ability to edit the text at any time
* miscellaneous features: rulers; the ability to move layer contents without creating a selction, thus allowing for out-of-canvas areas to come into play again; advanced features for color matching, hue changes, color balance etc.

Paint.net has none of the above. Photoshop has it all. Not sure about Gimp.


 1:03 am on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I also have been trying out the Gimp as I am trying to switch to Linux. I have also been trying a vector graphics program called Inkscape that looks promising. Google inkscape and you will find it.


 4:08 pm on Mar 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

craigpet - I mentioned Inkscape in a recent thread on open source vector programs. I'd be interested in any reactions you have, especially if you use it for any print projects. Seemed to me that this was its biggest limitation.


 4:54 am on Mar 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

One of the things that I've come to realize is how much of an investment of my time I've made in Photoshop over the years. Hearing that GIMP is not easy to learn, and seeing that confirmed in some tutorials concerns me. It would probably take me a long time with GIMP just to get to the point that I'm already at with Photoshop, and then it seems doubtful I'd be much better off.

It makes sense to me that a very specialized and complex program like Photoshop would contain proprietary tricks that aren't available (yet) in the OSS world.

It would be fairly easy to build a faster version of my old Windows 98 PC just to keep my copy of Photoshop 6.0 alive. The cost of making a move seems too high for what benefits I might gain from a new version or a different product.

The cost of hardware is so low these days that they're almost giving it away. I just picked up a new 100 gig hard drive for $28 (after mail in rebate) and copied my current hard drive onto it using a utility that came with it. I've ready got it backed up on another hard drive, and also on a set of CDs. Having my own Windows 98 Photoshop machine for the rest of my working life...how bad can that be?


 5:22 am on Mar 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use Gimp on Linux at home and Photoshop CS2 at home and in the office on XP.

Main difference: I think Gimp is still missing color management and greater than 16-bit per chanel.

If you take digital photos in RAW and would like to do some extensive editing, 8-bit per channel Gimp is less than ideal.

However, if you shoot JPEGs out of camera, and just want to manipulate JPEGs moderately (which are already 8-bit), Gimp really seems to work fine.


 11:14 am on Mar 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Main difference: I think Gimp is still missing color management and greater than 16-bit per chanel.

These are absolutely required components of a pro workflow.

Game over, man.


 2:37 pm on Mar 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder if people even read this thread, or just add to it?


 2:56 pm on Mar 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wonder if people even read this thread, or just add to it?

I can answer that question for me.

I read it, and the original question was:

Is open source software an option yet for doing serious graphics, especially digital photography (including extensive retouching)?

I've been writing digital imaging software for more than 15 years, and a lot of that is directly for pro digital photography workflow. Most of what I've written has not been "sold separately" software, so I don't have much of an axe to grind. I don't have a thing against OSS, but I do believe that staggering amounts of it are pure garbage, with scattered gems like Apache, PHP and MySQL. Caveat emptor.

Just my $0.02.


 4:26 pm on Mar 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I particularly like how GIMP handles pasting with layers. Its seems fine, especially since its free. I'd use it happily, and it will handle 99.9% of stuff with ease.


 6:43 am on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

the bottom line

$650 or $FREE


 1:22 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

$650 or $FREE

"Free" is in the eye of the beholder.

Time is money. Sometimes, significant amounts of money. My engineering team costs my company hundreds of dollars an hour. If we have a fifteen minute delay that ties up three of my engineers (like compiling an OSS package), then it can easily cost the company as much as a shrink-wrapped Photoshop package. I would bet on a lot more than fifteen minutes, though.

If it takes two hours to learn the new package, then look out Nellie. Especially if the new package doesn't even have decent color management, a keystone of pro photography workflow, and one of the most heavily patented areas of digital technology.


 5:15 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

$650 or $FREE

For me time is money, and $650 does not represent a huge amount of my time. I really do appreciate all of the posts on this thread! For me, the cost of learning GIMP is far more than $650 and the benefits are not very powerful. If there were something in GIMP that was a compelling feature that Photoshop lacked, then that would be another story.

I did not fully realize or consider, when I started this thread, how much the cost of learning GIMP might be, and also how much time I have already invested in become proficient with my current version of Photoshop.


 7:06 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I work on a team and the guy that handles the font end graphics uses the latest photoshop. For the graphic professional Im sure some of the more adv techniques are used.

So basically Im saying that if you are an all around web developer then full blown latest photoshop may not be neccessary, however if your main focus is graphics and front end then you may find some advantages.

Again if your doing this full time and working with a team then id say get the best tools you can, actually knowing all the tools would be the best!


 8:45 pm on Mar 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was over on the "Adobe Creative Suite 3 to be unveiled this month" thread and you can see some real enthusiasm there for new features in the upcoming new release. I didn't see much of that enthusiasm here regarding GIMP.

If the only real advantage that open source graphics software can offer is the price, then it's still got a way to go, in my opinion.


 1:33 am on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you are creating and optimising web graphics, then the GIMP and other packages will probably work just fine.

But I'll just add my 20 years of professional graphics experience into the pot and say that for CMYK commercial print ready artwork, you gets what you pays for. Corel also produce a professional package - PhotoPaint I think - that separates into CMYK and probably works OK, but I've yet to try it out.

Phtoshop is the corect tool for print design. Any other image editing application needs to find a reason for it's existence and the GIMP's only answer so far is its initial cost. Which for professional use, is next to irrelevent.


 5:43 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's interesting that Photoshop is so highly regarded for print CMYK work. The name Photoshop implies its main purpose is photography, but I do some print work with it too. I'm getting ready to run a print ad in which I need to convert an RGB photo image to a CMYK halftone to print in a newspaper ad - something that I've never done before...

Regarding open source - some software has reached the stage where it is more of a commodity than new, cutting edge development. I think that's where open source can do well. Vendors, who need to make a profit by selling commodity-type software will try anything to slip in something that will lock you into their proprietary solution, whereas open source won't do that. Operating systems, and more recently databases come to mind as examples of commodity-type software where open source is offering more benefits than just price - namely, interplatform support, wide acceptance, large user base, ...


 5:53 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

whereas open source won't do that

You ever read the GPL [gnu.org]? There are many who would consider it a legal virus. We have to audit our code on a regular ba$is to make sure we have GPL infections.

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