Since Pixabay is offering thousands and thousands of Public Domain images, we are attracting designers, bloggers, journalists and many other users from all around the globe. For all of which, a powerful and easy to use photo editor can come in quite handy. In this short review article you'll get to know the two most important free editors out there: GIMP and Paint.NET. There are more alternatives, but if you are not willing to spend several hundreds of dollars for Photoshop, those applications are the way to go. In the field of free or low budget editors, both GIMP and Paint.NET are simply outstanding.
GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program
GIMP is available on all major operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac, and as portable Window app for USB drives. Since GIMP was originally developed for Linux, the interface structure may appear unfamiliar to Windows users: The editor is split into several tool windows, which takes getting used to. Also, in case you have lots of fonts installed on your system, starting up GIMP can take a rather long time. However, these two weaknesses are well compensated by what GIMP has to offer: uncountable features, filters and effects. GIMP can be further extended with plugins and scripts, and thus can easily keep up with Adobe Photoshop.
Features of GIMP
- Image editing (alter, resize, crop, color management, retouching, etc.)
- Photo enhancement (sharpen, soften, red eye removal, ...)
- Filters (distort, light and shadow, artistic, ...)
- Multilayer support including transparency
- Support of all major graphic file formats
- Customizable interface, fullscreen mode, undo function
- Hardware support
Editor's note: I've been using GIMP professionally for several years, and the editor has never let me down and no filter or effect was ever missing.
In general, you can follow Photoshop tutorials on the web, since virtually all features of Photoshop are also available in GIMP. In case you plan on switching to Photoshop in the future, you are going to feel quite familiar with it from the start.
Paint.NET - the free replacement for Microsoft Paint
Paint.NET is available only on Microsoft Windows and requires the .NET framework to be installed. In contrast to GIMP, this editor features a more intuitive user interface with only one main window and partly transparent tool windows inside of it. Just like GIMP, it supports layers, unlimited undo, lots of special effects, and a wide variety of useful image editing tools. Paint.NET starts up blazingly fast and it's performance while working on images is outstanding. The Paint.NET developers say, it's "the fastest image editor available". While GIMP has abundant filters and effects installed by default, Paint.NET offers a rather slim setup out of the box, that can easily be extended with plugins.
GIMP offers more filters and professional retouch options, however, Paint.NET is faster and easier to learn - particularly if you've never used an image editor before. For rather "normal" image editing, like cropping, resizing, red eye removal, sharpening, etc. and if you are using Windows, go for Paint.NET. If you intend to do some serious image editing and photo retouching or if you plan to switch to Photoshop later on, GIMP is your best choice. Despite Paint.NET can widely be extended by incorporating plugins, GIMP still offers a more "professional" - and also more complicated - interface.
Now go play and have fun :)) Or leave a comment.