In terms of version numbering the release of GIMP 2.8 might seem like a minor one, but in reality it is very big news. The cross-platform image editor has been available for Windows, OSX and Linux for man years now and one thing that Windows’ user have often struggled with is the abnormal interface which comprises multiple windows – in this latest version there is now the option of working in a single window mode. The great thing here is that there is a choice, so if you have become used to the way GIMP has worked in the past you can stick with this interface but if you have found this is the one thing that prevent you from using the image editor, you have a new option available to you.
While the interface does a lot to improve the usability of the program, this update has much more to offer. Dock windows are now much more customizable as you now have the option of creating new columns to house tools and shortcuts that you need access to. Individual dock elements have also been redesigned to help them to make better use of space. The saving and exporting of image has been reimagined into two distinct tasks, partly to avoid messages about layered images becoming flattened, and there have also be changes to the ways layers work – you can now group related layers together to make them easier to work with.
When you are incorporating text into your images it is now possible to edit text directly on the canvas without the need to turn to a separate window, and in addition to the pop-up toolbar controls, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to format text. But there have been many other changes and additions besides what has been done to the interface, including greater customization of brushes and the ability to save the state of any tool as a preset so that it can be quickly accessed in future.
A new cage transformation tool has been added to allow for image warping and wrapping, and there have also been a number of interesting developments for anyone using a tablet device. A great timesaver comes thanks to the fact that tools, patterns, brushes and other program resources can be tagged with custom keywords that can later be used to filter, so you can very quickly track down what you need to perform a particular task. Of course there are the usual nips, tucks and tweaks, but this is such a big change to the previous version of the program that even if you have been put off using GIMP in the past, now may just be the time to give it a second chance. If you are already a convert, you have a great deal to explore in this latest release.
You can find out more and download a free copy of the program by paying a visit to the GIMP 2.8 review page.
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