Photo editing is an essential aspect of photography. Through editing, you can take your work to the next level. However, you are probably wondering which editing software is the best.

GIMP and Photoshop both give you the ability to edit your photos, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both software. So, here is a guide to help you make the best decision regarding Photoshop and Gimp, which software is best for you.

GIMP vs Photoshop: What Sets Them Apart?

When you are trying to decide between GIMP vs Photoshop, it is essential to familiarize yourself with each software. You also need to know the difference as well as the limitations, features and capabilities of both. 

GIMP: An Open Source Editor

GIMP is an open source image editor. Open source means that it is free to edit and augment. It works by editing raster images. A raster image is a dot matrix graphic. You can store these raster images in different file types, including BMP, GIF, JPEG, MNG, PCX, PDF, PNG, ps, PSD files, SVG, TIFF, TGA, XPM, and others. 

GIMP home screen

Photoshop: Photo Editing Software

Photoshop is another photo editing software that is popular among graphic designers, web designers, and photographers. However, unlike GIMP, Photoshop is sold by Adobe for profit. So, it comes at a cost, but it has a lot of tools and features that you can use to alter photos.

Photoshop is another raster image editing software that allows you to open and manipulate a variety of files, including PSD files

GIMP vs Photoshop: Compare Pricing Options

Knowing how much you will need to pay for GIMP or Photoshop can help you make a sound business decision. 

How Much is Photoshop? 

Adobe Photoshop pricing differs depending on the way that you to use it. If you want a single license, you can pay for it every month. The monthly subscription option costs $20.99 a month. However, if you do not continue to pay for it, you will lose access to the program. 

You also have the option of purchasing the program for continual use for $239.88 per year if you prefer to pay upfront. Keep in mind, each year, you will have to repurchase your license to use the software. 

Is GIMP Really Free?

GIMP is an entirely free open source program. Once you download it, you can use it forever. You can also download updates for free as the developers release them. 

Exploring the Functions of GIMP and Photoshop

To know which program you should use, you need to know what each can do and their features. Familiarizing yourself with the features can help you make an informed decision. 

Only Available in GIMP

GIMP is a free open source program. So, you can use it for free. You can also alter the program to fit your needs. You can also distribute GIMP, and you can redistribute changed versions of the software. You also can download upgrades for free.

Only Available in Photoshop

There are a lot of editing functions that this program has that GIMP lacks. It is also the goto for commercial printers so, it’s better for you if you want to create something for an ad campaign that is going to go to print. 

This program gives you the ability to edit in RGB and CMYK. RGB is red, green, blue, and CMYK is cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Having the ability to edit in both color ranges is beneficial, and it gives you more flexibility. 

You can make multiple layers of the same photo. You can save the bottom image and work from a copy of the image or a blank layer. The benefit to this is that you are not altering the image itself, so if you need to go back to the base image, you have that ability.

Having the ability to work with multiple layers is another reason that many professionals choose this program over other photo editing programs. 

Laptop screen

Functions You Can Use in Both Programs

Both programs give you the ability to make basic edits to photos like cropping, altering brightness and contrast, resizing, and adding essential text elements. You can also overlap other images on top of the picture. You can also add watermarks if you want to create rights reserved images, change color images to black and white, change the orientation, fix blemishes, and remove unwanted items with a clone feature. 

Differences Between GIMP vs Photoshop

The differences in GIMP vs Photoshop can help you pick which is best for you. Although they both have similarities, there are some key differences in both. 

Basic Editing

Both programs offer sufficient editing capabilities. So, if you are choosing between GIMP vs Photoshop, it might come down to price, and how often you plan to use the program because for basic photo editing needs, they are comparable. 

System Requirements and Platform Support

It is essential to know which systems and platforms support GIMP and Photoshop. You need to know what program will work with your desired device because you do not want to waste your time or money trying to use a program that is not compatible. 

Photoshop requires an AMD Athlon 64 or Intel Core 2, 2 GHz or faster processor, while GIMP requires an Intel Pentium IV processor or better. As far as platforms, GIMP works on almost any platform, and it takes a lot less space at just 256 MB, while the other requires at least 2 GBs of space. 

Tools and Features

Photoshop has a ton of tools and features that make photo editing easier. Here are some of the features you have access to when you invest in this program:

  • Cropping tools
  • Photo straightening tools
  • Recoloring 
  • Animation
  • Filters
  • Automatic image enhancement
  • Bezier curve
  • Group layer arranging
  • Variable fonts
  • Object selection
  • Clone tool
  • Sharpening and blurring
  • Add and edit text 
  • Work with multiple layers

GIMP’s Tools and Features

While GIMP has fewer tools and features, it still provides users with plenty to edit photos. Here are the tools you can use to edit pictures in GIMP:

  • Image resizing
  • Cropping tools
  • Color altering 
  • Animation
  • Bezier curve
  • Filters 
  • Text
  • Clone tool
  • Sharpening and blurring

GIMP vs Photoshop Comparison Table

While it helps to know the capabilities of both programs, many people have a better idea of which is better if they can see it in a simple visual representation. So, here is a table comparison of the two photo editing software programs.

Paid Program
Free ProgramX
Basic EditingXX
Advanced Editing
Non-Destructive Editing
Suitable for Professional Use
Modifiable ProgramX
Windows CompatibleXX
iOS Compatible
Mac CompatibleXX
Android Compatible
Linux CompatibleXX
Support in EnglishXX
Support in Multiple Languages
Advanced Training
Basic Support XX
Advanced Support
Suitable for Beginners 
Suitable for Experienced Photo EditorsXX

Which Program Gives You More to Work With?

Both programs offer users some level of flexibility. However, they are each flexible in different areas. You can use GIMP on multiple devices as long as you don’t want to use it on a smartphone. If you want a photo editing software that you can use with more file types, across a broader range of devices, and that gives you access to more features, Photoshop is the best option. 

two computer screens

GIMP vs Photoshop: How Do They Rate for User-Friendliness?

GIMP for photo editing is more user friendly. However, if you need a program that can handle other tasks, Photoshop can be easier to use because it works well with other applications, especially those in Adobe Creative Cloud

Designer’s Pick: The Pros and Cons of GIMP vs Photoshop

Designers prefer to work with Adobe Photoshop because it gives them the tools they need to complete a variety of projects. 

When choosing between GIMP vs Photoshop for image editing projects, it is essential to know what designers like and dislike about both programs.

Benefits of Using GIMP

There are some obvious reasons that people prefer GIMP. Here is a list some of the most common reasons you might want to use GIMP for image editing projects:

  • Easier batch processing
  • Opensource, modifiable, and free
  • Less unnecessary tools
  • Portable on multiple devices

Benefits of Using Adobe Photoshop

There are numerous reasons that photographers and designers like Photoshop. Here is a list of some of the most compelling reasons to purchase this robust editing and design software:

  • It works seamlessly with most programs
  • Works great wit Adobe Creative Cloud
  • It gives you the ability to do advanced photo editing
  • Support and training is available
  • Ability to work with raw images
  • Used by many professionals
  • Ability to perform CYMK edits

Downsides of GIMP

Like any program, some limitations make GIMP less desirable. Here is a list:

  • Limits on advanced editing
  • Does not work well with other programs
  • Glitchy sometimes
  • Not suitable for design-heavy projects

Downsides of Photoshop

While Adobe Photoshop is a popular program for many professionals in the design world, there are some things that you might not like. Here are some of the things people dislike about Photoshop:

  • It is expensive
  • There are a lot of unnecessary features to sift through
  • It can be challenging to learn how to use Photoshop
  • It takes a lot of space
  • You have to pay to use it on multiple devices

GIMP vs Photoshop: Choosing the Right Program for the Right Reason

It is essential to know when you’d want to use Photoshop and Gimp. There are times when each can be useful. So, knowing when you can use each program will help you choose the best for your application.

GIMP is Best for Tight Budgets

Adobe Photoshop is not cheap. If you are on a budget, GIMP is very beneficial. You can use the program for free and even alter it if you have the knowledge to do so.

Professionals Should Invest in Photoshop

For professionals, there is no substitute for Photoshop. The quality of images you can produce with Adobe Creative Cloud software is superior to any other program. Plus, there are so many options you can use with the Adobe Creative Cloud.

time lapse photo at night

GIMP Works Well for Minimal and Occasional Edits

If you only need to edit photos occasionally, it might be better to use GIMP. Adobe Photoshop is a significant investment for people who only need a photo editing program sometimes.

Adobe Photoshop is a Graphic Design “Must Have”

If you work in Graphic Design and you want to provide clients with professional finished products, you need Photoshop. It is the industry standard, and it is what other professionals you work with will expect you to use.

Choose Photoshop as a Mobile Option

Adobe Photoshop has a smartphone version that gives you some flexibility, especially with Adobe Creative Cloud. If you plan on editing photos form your phone, you will need to invest in the software. The smartphone version of Photoshop is called Photoshop Mix, and it is arguably the most dynamic smartphone editing app.

GIMP is Excellent for Limited Space

GIMP is an excellent program if you are using a laptop or desktop computer or if you have limited space on your hard drive. GIMP takes considerably less space than Photoshop, so it is a better option for machines with less disk space.

Choose Photoshop for a Business Write Off

If you can write Photoshop off as a business expense or if your employer will pay for Photoshop, go for it. There is no substitute for the best photo editing software available, especially if you do not have to pay for it out of your pocket, or if you can write it off at the end of the year on your taxes.

Photoshop Offers More Versatility

Photoshop offers more features than GIMP, and it is more suitable when you are working on projects that require you to do web design, graphic, design, and other jobs.

GIMP Offers a Customizable Interface with Flexibility

GIMP gives you the ability to customize the interface. This is a feature that Photoshop does not provide users. So, if you want to alter the program to fit you better, you should use GIMP.

Program Compatibility with Photoshop

Photoshop works seamlessly with many other programs. If you use multiple applications to complete projects, you will probably want Photoshop.

Stick to the Essentials with GIMP

GIMP gives you access to the essential tools you need to edit photos without a ton of extras. So, from that perspective, it can be more comfortable for beginners to work GIMP. You do not have to spend a lot of time getting familiar with where everything is or how to use the different features when you work in GIMP.

If You Need CMYK Use Photoshop

If you are working on projects that require CMYK like things that need to be printed by a commercial printer, you need Photoshop. GIMP does not give you the ability to use CMYK.

GIMP is a Top Choice for Modifying and Open Source

Use GIMP if you are looking for an open-source and modifiable program. You can only use Photoshop in the way Adobe intends it. With GIMP, you can alter the program’s code and even redistribute it to others.

Preserve Your Base Image with Photoshop

If you need a non-destructive photo editing program, go with Photoshop. It gives you the ability to work with multiple layers, filter with smart filters, use smart objects, and retouch photos on a separate layer, which does not alter the base image.

GIMP Makes it Easy To Batch Process Your Images

When using GIMP, you can alter photos from the command line and apply a specific set of parameters to multiple images making it easy to batch process images. This is particularly useful if you need several images that are all the same size.

Photoshop Continuously Updates

Adobe, the developer of Photoshop, is constantly developing the program. That means that it is always able to work with the latest operating systems.

GIMP Has Access to Free Updates

GIMP is always free, so each time a new version is released, you can download it free of charge.

Photoshop Allows You To Go Beyond Basic Edits

Photoshop users have access to more powerful tools like healing brush, patch, red-eye, pencil, etc. These tools allow you to complete jobs that go beyond basic photo edits.

GIMP is Easy to Download on Multiple Devices

With GIMP, you do not need to pay for multiple licenses to use it on different devices. You can download GIMP on various devices if you need to use it on your PC and laptop.

Photoshop is Best for Raw Images

Photoshop users are better able to work with raw images in multiple formats. So, if you need this capability, you will want to purchase Photoshop.

GIMP and Photoshop Allow You To Work With PSD Files

Like GIMP, Photoshop gives you the ability to open, edit, and save PSD files. So, you can use GIMP files in Photoshop at a later date if you need to do more advanced photo editing later.

Photoshop Alters Images Best

You can edit photos with GIMP, but Photoshop is the go-to program for people who want to alter a photo. You can whiten teeth, clear blemishes, make people look thinner or more muscular, and you can do several other edits.

If you are a professional photographer, you will want to add Photoshop to your tool kit because you can make subjects appear more polished.

portrait of woman

GIMP vs Photoshop: Which Program is Best for Beginners?

There are reasons that beginners might use either software. If you wish to make basic edits, GIMP gives you access to the tools you need without a lot of extra features. However, Photoshop gives users access to more substantial support and training. So, if you need to do more advanced editing, you might want Photoshop because the support team can assist you.

Getting Started with GIMP

You can download GIMP for free. Then, you can start playing around with the program. When using GIMP, it is crucial always to save a copy of your image before you start altering it. You can’t undo changes as easily in GIMP as you can in Photoshop.

There are tons of video tutorials on YouTube. So, if you want to do something specific, you can quickly look one up and follow it.

Using GIMP to Edit Photos

Open a compatible file in GIMP. Then, use tools to crop, adjust, and manipulate the file until you reach the desired look. Be sure to save a copy of the file before editing the image.

It is also beneficial to name the files similar yet different names, so you know which is the original image. When you finish editing, you need to export the image. Do not use the save option as that will not export your work.

Can You Make GIMP Look Like Photoshop?

You can download a theme pack that makes GIMP Photoshop-like. A theme pack will make the transition easier for people who are familiar with working in Photoshop vs GIMP.

Final Thoughts on GIMP vs Photoshop

If you are looking to do photoshopping free, GIMP is a good option as Adobe does not have a free version available of Photoshop. However, there is no substitute for the most robust photo editing software available. You can use GIMP for basic photo editing, but for advanced jobs and more design-focused jobs that require professional quality require Photoshop.

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