In the Graphic Design Shorties series I attempt to make image manipulation and graphic design concepts more accessible to the non-initiated (like me). If you are in a small company where you wear many hats or just want to take charge and handle small image needs yourself, this series is aimed at you. If you have almost no budget for this sort of thing, even better.

This article in the Graphic Design Shorties (GDS) series, I will cover software applications that serve as the foundation for handling everything from a quick image crop to creating multi-layered images. I’ll also be tapping into some automated features to spice up your creations.

While there are many packages that fit the bill, my focus is always on reducing expense without being “penny wise and pound foolish.” That being said, I will not be focusing any time on the incredible commercial success of Adobe’s Photoshop or their other Creative Suite products.


For me, you really can’t beat the GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP. Yes, it’s really called GIMP and rhymes with “limp.” It’s also free, has been around for over 20 years (as of 2016), and represents open source software’s best answer to aforementioned commercial products. To quote the front page of their official web site:

GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, OS X, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, you can change its source code and distribute your changes.

Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. You can further enhance your productivity with GIMP thanks to many customization options and 3rd party plugins.

OK, so you are sold and the price tag (free) sounds very inviting, right? Now you just have to download and install it. Piece of cake!

Head over to the official GIMP download page ( and download the distribution for your operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, etc). Once you download and install the application, you are ready to rock and roll.

GIMP’s application environment can be a little intimidating at first, if you aren’t accustomed to working with professional graphic manipulation software. Don’t worry, all of the articles in this series are going to directly tie back to using GIMP to meet your needs.

Feel free to explore the environment in GIMP. See what you can accomplish on your own until the next article comes out!

GIMP was built to handle a lot of file formats and a lot of crazy demands. It’s also used by a bazillion users1 worldwide and in multiple galaxies2 in our universe so chances are there’s an article out there that can help.

Next up: Simple crops and image resizing. See you soon!

1 Clearly a made up number in every sense.
2 OK, now I am just embarrassing myself. Sorry.

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