Graphic Design World

Since being created in 1988 Photoshop has become the de facto industry standard in raster graphics editing, such that the word “photoshop” has become a verb as in “to Photoshop an image,” “photo shopping” and “photoshop contest”, though Adobe discourages such use. It can edit and compose raster images in multiple layers and supports masks, alpha compositing and several color models including RGB, CMYK, Lab color space, spot color and duotone. Photoshop has vast support for graphic file formats but also uses its own PSD and PSB file formats which support all the aforementioned features. [Wikipedia]

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Is GIMP The Best Photoshop Alternative?

Is GIMP the best open source alternative to Photoshop?

It will be eighteen years this weekend since GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, hit version 1.0 on June 5, 1996, and over twenty since the open source project first became generally available to the public. In that time, it has come a long way in both the expansion of features and in usability, and for many users, beginners and experts alike,it has become their preferred image editor.

But is GIMP really a full replacement for Photoshop? It probably depends on both what you need it for, and how rigid you are in your workflow. In many educational programs, designers and artists are often taught a single proprietary option from day one of their training; they aren’t taught design so much as how to use a specific application. Industry completes the cycle by advertising job requirements around a specific tool, and building a whole design workflow around it, making it harder to break in with an open source alternative.

This cycle doesn’t explain the whole world of graphic editing software, though. Many home users are perfectly content to use whatever tool works for them, and if it’s freely available, all the better to them. Many small businesses see the advantages of using open source applications over their proprietary alternatives. And even many enterprise corporations are becoming more welcoming to software diversity inside their walls.

For those of us too cheap to buy Photoshop, or who want to support the open-source movement, the Gimp is a great little image manipulation program. I use the “Oilify” option a lot to obscure students’ faces. Gimp’s not as sophisticated as Photoshop, but if you’re not heavily into graphic design, and are not too picky, it does a good job.

As a Photoshop clone, Gimp shares many of its basic principles. It also comes from the ImageMagick command line tools, which I’ve used to automate image processing in the past. Gimp itself is, however, pretty easy to learn. I’ve shown one student how to use it, and we’ll see if and how the knowledge propagates through the class.

Combining Paths In Photoshop Tutorial

Cat’s a bit of a wiz on Illustrator but can sometimes get frustrated when trying to use that program’s equivalent tools in Photoshop. Take the pen tool; a great device for creating beautifully curved lines. But why oh why doesn’t it act the same in Photoshop as it does Illustrator? For example, when drawing a curved line, if you want to turn a sharp corner instead of continuing the curve, in Illustrator you have to click on your node to lose a bezier handle before continuing with the line. In PS, you have to alt+click. It took Cat quarter of an hour to find this out, trawling through a very lengthy, but informative, pen tutorial.

Combine Paths 1

Deciding to use a combination of the pen tool and CS5’s brilliant magic wand Cat hoped to create an accurate path with which to precisely cut a beetle from its background. She diligently created a path around the beetle’s body (path shown yellow) then, using the wand selection, selected its antenna (path shown red) and then its legs (path shown blue). By using different methods of selection, she ended up with several different paths. Having created and named her three paths, she wanted to combine them, like a virtual beetle drive. After another hour of internet research she eventually found what she was was looking for. To save you the frustration, here it is. Please note: the paths have been colored for reference, you won’t see them like this in your version of Photoshop.

Combine Paths 2

Click on one of your paths in the paths palette. Copy it (edit>copy or Cmd/Ctrl+C). Then click on another path in the paths palette and paste the first path into it (edit>paste or Cmd/Ctrl+V). Both your paths will be on the same path. Continue until all of your paths are in the same path. You can see that they are by checking the paths’ thumbnail and you will also be able to see the paths on your image. (You can increase the size of the thumbnail by choosing ‘Panel options’ from the right-hand menu – click on the tiny arrow). Cat has colored the paths magenta in the screen grab below (so you can see them) and renamed the path thumbnail ‘outline’.

Combine Paths 3

Now combine the paths. This is where PS and Illy do coincide. Use your path select tool (the black arrow) and drag it across all of your paths to select them. Choose the first option in the pathfinder options (see below) and then click the ‘combine’ button. Et voila, your paths are now a single path!

Press Cmd/Ctrl+click to select the path in the paths palette then go back to your layers palette. You should see the ‘marching ants’ walking along the edge of your shape. Making sure you are in the correct layer, click Ctrl+C to copy the image and Ctl+N to create a new document and Ctrl+V to paste your cut-out image. Or invert the selection and delete the background. Add a touch of gradient overlay and create a whole new species!


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