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GIMP is an icon of open-source software, but do any professional designers use it full-time over Photoshop?

Compare with Sketch, which has taken scores of users from Illustrator.

Ok, you want the longer answer?

I know several professional designers who only (or mostly) use free software.

Gimp inclusive.

They do this as a matter of choice.

And there are many more professional designers, who use free software for parts of their workflow. They do it, for many different reasons, but mostly because it just happens to fit their needs.

Some of them use Gimp.

If you would have read the article linked above, you would know that it's mostly about a professional designer (Aryeom) who is using Gimp for her work on an animation film.

Personally, I still believe that you're question would have deserved only a "42" type of answer.

"Professional designers" is such a vast term...

But, hey I'm so generous today :-)

P.S.: I don't want to get into a discussion on who is a professional designer and who is not, so I avoid putting links to the ones I know are using only/mostly free software...

But here are the names of the first ones that comes to mind: Cédric, Elisa, Vlada, Camille, David, ...

Well, only a shoddy craftsman blames his tools, but if you work in a design or ad agency everyone uses the Adobe monoculture because no one wants to deal with potential asset pipeline hickups when under tight deadlines. I'm sure there's freelancers who prefer gimp, but in the industry it's far from accepted, most designers will only know it exists but won't bother trying because they've been cosy with PS for over a decade.

Photoshop is getting less convenient to pirate; I'm starting to see more and more people who have grown up using gimp and have no desire to switch to Photoshop.

Long time back, I wanted to timestamp certain pictures (a couple of hundred). That is, pick up the timestamp from EXIF metadata and put the date on a corner of the photo.

I wasn't able to do it programatically using Adobe tools. FOSS on Linux did that for me.

Photoshop is as easy to pirate as it has ever been. The "SaaS" licensing scheme hasn't changed this one bit.

> The "SaaS" licensing scheme ...

It's the "crooked" licensing scheme.

IMO the main ideological difference is that Photoshop UI is targeting users who like to see things visually. Gimp has a more programmatic legacy.

PS allows moving around a few sliders while looking at the screen to see how things change and nail it when the results look visually good. I bet that is critical for most PS users. It is for me. I paid for an (educational) PS license just so I can edit my photos before I print them and hang them on a wall.

One example: doing levels. One slider move back and forth to see which areas are overblown in each channel. One extra keypress to switch between final result and overblown only. That, to me, is so powerful. I can decide on the fly, "well, I lost detail in yellow channel here, but extra detail there is clearly worth it".

I am sure GIMP is great in many ways, but I guess their target user group is different. Their interface just does not work well for me (and I did try), they focus at different things, etc.

I hate Adobe (both their licensing and privacy policies), but CS is just so good. It is one of the three programs for which I still have a Windows partition on my computer (I do most of my work in Linux).

I don't think you can blame it on the wrong kind of user. As a former Photoshop user, one of the most frustrating things about Gimp is the amount it forces me to use the mouse. I'm the kind of person that uses vim, and Photoshop is definitely a far better fit for the way I like to work [Edit: Unless it's got worse in the decade or so since I used it].

Gimp is just full of little annoyances that interrupt your flow and make it difficult to work efficiently.

This relearning problem goes both ways. People trained on GIMP tend to find Photoshop annoying and difficult to use - because they have to relearn. People accept spending extra time and struggling when learning a new skill; and are frustrated with tools (or really themselves) when something they think they know how to do suddenly is difficult.

I'm sure that there is a learning curve for people going from Gimp to Photoshop. In my case, going the other way, after over a decade, I still find Gimp a massive pain in the arse. It's not just that it's "not what I'm used to", it's that it's bad.

Recently I had to make some end-credit cards for a short film - ie. white writing on black backgrounds. Gimp managed to make even that painful. Things like, placing an immovable dialogue over the handles of my text box so I can't get at them. If I try to replace text, it reverts to its arbitrary choice of font / size so I have to type new text in the middle of my existing text, then delete the original. No "duplicate layer" shortcut. Just gratuious annoyances that are good for nobody, and bad for everybody.

Edit: I have a feeling you might be a Gimp dev, in which case I should be more grateful for the work you do, which I still use and benefit from even though the UI frustrates the hell out of me.

Edit2: I just found the Duplicate Layer shortcut. Not sure how I missed it before.


But as for 42, this is unlikely the answer you wanted to hear.

I'm not a designer - purely curious.

I get aoloe's reaction though. Whenever someone posts something cool about Gimp, invariably a bunch of “yeah it's free, but it's not Adobe Photoshop is it?” comments pop up.

Why should we care? Why not judge it on its own merits?

This reminds me of how a lot of people used to respond to the notion of using GNU/Linux distributions as free operating systems suitable for day-to-day desktop use. Sure, I get why not everyone might want to use it (nobody is asking you to), but why does every bit of positive news or cool achievement have to get accompanied by dozens of comments by authors directly comparing it to a commercially available alternative, stating that they'd use it if only it did this and if only it looked more like that?

I love how we as a global community have such a wealth of software tools available; to use for free (legally!), with a philosophy that explicitly encourages sharing and enables anyone with the know-how to contribute. Some of these tools have been with us for decades, such as Gimp, and each release brings new features and improvements. Instead of celebrating its strengths, software like Gimp gets scrutinized by holding it to an arbitrary standard it can never meet (the full feature set of Adobe Photoshop), simply because the goal posts are forever moving.

I do not intend to berate anyone genuinely asking about how to migrate to free tools like Blender, Gimp, and Inkscape — questions where the comparison of features is warranted — but a lot of comments appear to dismiss tools like Gimp out of hand simply because they aren't carbon copies of the most popular proprietary alternatives.

With operating systems we've entered the next phase, where using a free software operating system isn't cause for raised eyebrows, and where people are actually asking the reverse question: why can't Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X do this thing I can do easily on GNU/Linux? Hopefully we can reach that level of acceptance with other free software as well.

Because in professional environments, there are industry standards. You can use whatever editor you like as long as it can handle text files. Same goes for graphics tool and .psd files.

This is true especially for Gimp. I imagine there are many people like me, who work on Linux and already use Gimp for their own stuff, but since Linux + Gimp is usually the toolset of a technical person, most of the time we work with graphical tools it is not our own work, but something a designer created with OSX + Photoshop.

So please, Gimp, create a way for me to fund everything related to better .psd support. On everything else, Gimp can and should find its own way. I like Gimp more anyway due to decades (wtf, I am old) of usage.

I would add that most people arguing that Photoshop is superior in these threads have never had to pay for it, either due to piracy or because of their employer.

Another thing of value for me is that open source can not die for as long as there's demand. This makes it a safer bet for long term investments. So GIMP may never be on par with Photoshop and the Linux desktop may never happen for ordinary people, but you can bet they'll still be around and probably maintained and developed in 50 years from now, because they aren't subject to the same market forces as proprietary stuff.

Hence the comparison is often unfair. For me GIMP gets the job done, for my needs it is perfectly suitable, works on all 3 major desktop operating systems, therefore it has an unbeatable price tag and license.

> why does every bit of positive news or cool achievement have to get accompanied by dozens of comments by authors directly comparing it to a commercially available alternative, stating that they'd use it if only it did this and if only it looked more like that?

In this case, it's because Gimp is frequently claimed to be a Photoshop alternative. For most Photoshop users, that isn't really true, and it's very reasonable to point out that it isn't true.

I gave up Windows over a decade ago, and I gave up doing any serious graphics work at the same time, because the best available replacement for Photoshop was Gimp. I still don't think Gimp's up to the standard of the last PS I used (7?).

I'm happy that Gimp exists and I'm excited about the GEGL stuff. I wish people would stop pretending it's an alternative to Photoshop. If you can replace your Photoshop usage with Gimp usage, Photoshop probably wasn't the right program for you in the first place.

The developers do not claim GIMP to be a Photoshop replacement/alternative.

Mostly depends in what space you work I would think. I work in print production and absolutely need robust pantone support. I could go on endlessly about how few seem to understand what pantone is and how it works but that does not change the fact it is the defacto language for communicating printed color. Last I checked there is no pantone plugin for GIMP and as pantone is proprietary that may not change.

I also deal with large format printers. These are built in the thousands or tens of thousands and don't get the software love that they would if produced on a larger scale. RIP's tend to be finicky and are designed to play nice with the adobe suite, so most stick with those tools.

It depends on the context. In my experience in advertising / agencies, graphic designers (or "creatives" as they insist on being called) are spoilt brats who found even "responsive design" too technical and "beneath" them, so much that the whole field of UX as we know it today was born to fill the gap. Expecting them to even consider using any tool other than Photoshop or Illustrator is just a waste of time. But in smaller, more "startuppy" enviroments you find some who do use Gimp. Still, the ratio in my personal experience is something like 98 - 2.

TL;DR ADobe has it pretty much sewn up

Sketch use case is different though, its more layout oriented whereas illustrator is mainly a vector editing powerhouse. Layout is a pain in illustrator because it was never meant as a layout program. I use sketch, illustrator and indesign regulary and all have their relative strenghts and weaknesses even though theres a lot of feature overlap.

I'm sure there are!

While I've been a Photoshop user since v5, I haven't always had it installed. There are even times I've done professional work on Linux where Photoshop doesn't run.

Currently I have Photoshop, but make use of the Gimp as well.

When there are so many free tools like there that can do a pro job - the question isn't "Gimp or Photoshop" but "Gimp, and Photoshop?" I could replace Illustrator with Inkscape and still get my job done, but I have bought Illustrator so I get my money's worth out of it. But that doesn't mean I not longer also have Inkscape. Of course I use Inkscape where it's better than Illustrator :D

Realistic answer is not really. There are people who probably use it, but they are invisible in the whole. However, Krita got some serious attention by digital painters and is used enough to be visible as an alternative to both ps and coral paint.

This. As an artist, I found Gimp too precise in its pixel-drawing. You want a dot, you get exactly that. Krita, however, uses an algorithm that smooths its brush edges so that the result - even after holding the brush in one spot for awhile - doesn't come out pixelated. I use Gimp for general editing, and particularly filters and such (e.g. liquid rescale (seam-carving)) - which is what it seems to be best at anyways.

unlikely, while a certainly poewrful piece of software that can do much of what photoshop can (in the 2D realm), it has no support for 3D work, real vector support, active filters (this is a huge one in traditional 2D work, esp icons/logos)

The one feature that breaks it for me for professional work is that filters happen to a layer instead of being attached to them an are able to be changed on a whim. It's impossible to do any real work if you have to render and re-render every shadow on every text and object when its size changes. I think I could do without everything else but that.

That’s why I love Krita so much – it can do all those things, can do animation, and, partially, already 3D, too.

For this reason I use Inkscape for most things I used GIMP for in the past.

The work you might have heard about GEGL - is all about providing foundations for such non-destructive editing. The highlighted split-view / curtain preview in the blog post is implemented using these new capabilities provided by GEGL. Adding new features that cement themselves as new things in the file format is part of GIMPs roadmap after GIMP-2.10 / 3.0. 2.10 / 3.0 are aiming to provide the same functionality that GIMP-2.6 / 2.8 provided but with GEGL as the core and thus higher bitdepth.

Photoshop has 'smart filters' and 'smart objects' which do exactly what you describe.

Is this mandatory nowadays? I mean it's nice that PS (and even Pixelmator and Affinity) have that, but I did design work many years ago and managed fine.

Sure it will be more inconvenient, but it's doable.

People did design work without any of these digital tools before.

Give people better tools and it's hard to go back. Can you imagine writing a large piece of software without autocomplete or syntax highlighting these days?

This is simply not true, Photoshop does have all those features!

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