GIMP 2.8 is (unofficially) released – a quick review.
Posted on May 20, 2012
The most obvious thing, and one that people have been begging for for years, is finally here. Single window mode. With multiple images opening in tabs.
One new feature that’s screwing me up is File > Export. No more can you just do a File > Save and choose .JPG. Now you have to use the export feature. Needless to say, I still keep going to File > Save to save as a JPG. Not a biggie, but something you’ll need to get used to.
GIMP 2.8 has a new import feature too in File > Create > From Webpage which lets you effectively take a screenshot of a web page. Only problem with it (thus far) is that if you pick a site with anything embedded the plugin will crash. I tried it with Google.com and it worked fine. Try something like YouTube and it’ll crash. Hell, it even crashed with my own site!
In the Edit menu you’ll find Buffer. This lets you cut/copy/paste to/from a named buffer which is a nice touch. And, for me anyway, my Wacom Bamboo now works flawlessly in 2.8. In 2.7 it would randomly draw, what I can only describe as, spikes on the screen. Hence why I began using MyPaint for digital drawing/painting. Time to reinstall those deviantArt GIMP brushes again then methinks!
The View menu gives you a ton of tick boxes, but I just noticed a ‘New View’ option. I think this is new. It lets you open another view of the current image which is updated automatically. Handy for zooming in (in one view) for detail then having the other view zoomed out. Means you can quickly switch between the two without zooming in/out all the time.
The Image menu is pretty much the same, and I still don’t see the much asked for CMYK mode which GIMP really needs if it’s to be used in any sort of print/professional places.
The remaining menu’s look pretty similar to 2.7. Nothing jumps out at me as being new.
One feature that’s really really welcome and I’ll definitely use is Layer Groups.
You can now create a layer group (basically a folder) and drag your layers into these groups then rearrange the groups as you need. It’s a small feature, but it keeps your layers neat and is a real time saver. I used to use it all the time way back when I used Photoshop. An easy way to create a layer of your current image is to right click in the Layers tab and choose ‘New From Visible’.
The text tools have gone through a revamp and gone is the infamous text editor window that would always pop-up and obscure whatever you happened to be working on.
Now, your text is fully editable within your image. And, as you can see from the screen above, you have have mixes of bold, italic, fonts, and colours in one piece of text. Pretty much as you’d do in a word processor. Right clicking a text layer and choosing ‘Text Tool’ is a quick way of editing your text.
A new tool is ‘Cage Transform’. This lets you point and click to draw a ‘cage’ around an item. You can then move the points to deform what is within the cage. The only problem with it is that when you deform something out-with its original shape I see some artefacts from the original image, so a cage deform seems to require clean-up afterwards. Hopefully that’ll be rectified in a future update.
All tool actions now have a snazzy ‘dial’ that appears. I wasn’t quick enough with my screen grabbing to get it, but it goes from 12-noon around the clock face to midnight showing you the progress of the current action. Nice!
You may, in some screens, have noticed big chunky blue bars. These are your value changers. In the Paintbrush example above you now have four ways to alter a value. If, for example, you wanted to lower the opacity of the brush you can either click on the value 100 and change it, click on the up/down buttons, or you can hover above the 100 and you’ll see the pointer become an up arrow. Click anywhere along the blue bar (with the up arrow) and the value will jump up/down to where your up arrow is. Hover below the value and you’ll see the pointer become a resize, or left and right, icon. Click and drag on the blue bar to change the value. The up arrow idea is great, the left/right icon is not so great as you can drag to the left, only go down about 10% and hit the edge of the screen.
Oh, brushes. Brushes can now be ‘tagged’ so that you can easily filter your brushes to show only those that are ‘media’ or ‘sketch’, and so on. Handy, but none of the pre-installed brushes are pre-tagged. I do wish they’d pre-install some decent real media style brushes rather than the useless ones. You know, the one that looks like a gecko, the three that are hands, the one that looks like a bird, the five that are spheres. Very odd.
Anyway, that’s the longest short run through of GIMP that I’ve ever written. GIMP is definitely on the up and up, but still needs that CMYK mode for the printers out there. Who knows, maybe it’ll appear in the 2.8 final. I do hope so. Long live the GIMP!