This is an image of my current desktop. It's a two-monitor setup running Linux Debian.
The reason I posted this is because I'm now running the next version of GIMP, version 2.4 (or at least the pre-version of it). Since I do all my art in GIMP, this is kinda interesting to me, and maybe to someone else, so I'll try a quick and dirty review of the new features below. If you wonder about the image shown in this screenshot, it's called Shrike-rapid undocking
and you can find it here: [link]
If you are not familiar with GIMP, it's a free, open-source bitmap program, in a similar vein to Photoshop. It's available at no cost for many different computer systems, including Linux, Mac, Solaris and Windows. You can find it here: [link]
. There you can easily download the previous stable version which is called GIMP2.2. It will still take a little while longer before you can get 2.4 without compiling it yourself.
CORRECTION: Seems like I was a little too hasty with everyone having to compile from sources. There is actually a Windows-only installer available already. It's here: [link]
(thanks to user 619224 for pointing that out).
For those who didn't know, the first release candidate for GIMP 2.4 is now out. A "release candidate" means that it has all the features that the final stable GIMP2.4 will have (no more features will be added), and it's reasonably stable to be a candidate for the final release. Technically this version is still in the Development branch (you still have to compile from sources), but it's really just one step away from the final product.
They will probably tweak some more details, fix a few last minute bugs (if any shows up), maybe make a second release candidate and then the stable version 2.4 is released. Most people will probably want to wait for this unless you know how to compile it for yourself as you still have to do right now.
I'm now running the 2.4rc1here, and whereas the shift is not immense for me since I've run 2.3.19 before this, there are plenty of things that you might not be aware of if you are still using the old stable 2.2.
First of all -- icons are different, with more colours and a different layout. This you can see from the screenshots. There are a bunch of new tools in the toolbox.
One of the main improvements to many tools is that you can now change their settings in real-time, and not until you press Return will the setup be complete. The selection tools are good examples of this. In old GIMP2.2, you had to make a rectangular selection correct on your first try -- if you released the mouse button at the wrong place it was just to start over again. In 2.4, the rectangular selection gets little handles in all corners and edges (or centers, if you do a circular selection), that allows you to adjust the selection a little more. Not until you press Return will the selection actually be active (that's also when it will be added/removed from earlier selections, if you held down Shift/Ctrl). Lasso selection works the same as before -- if you want to be able to change free-hand selections as you please, you're better off using paths anyway.
An new selector tool is the foreground extractor
tool. This allows you to single out a foreground thing from a busy background (in short, make a "render", in sig jargon). This is done by first roughly marking the outline and then scribble inside that area to indicate the general region to select. You can paint your selection directly and a clever algorithm will use your input to decide which part of the image you want to cut out. It comes out very well, I must say.
You can now clone in perspective. The description reads "Clone from an image source after applying a perspective transformation". This may sound weird, but it really is powerful. When selecting this tool you now gets to set the perspective plane by moving a few squares around. From now on, when you clone (e.g. from another layer), the resulting clone will appear as if the original was painted on that perspective plane. For example you could clone from the image of a head-on window, and easily place clones of that window up the slope of a tall building seen from below, automatically placing them correctly and in perspective.
The "Heal" tool is mostly for photographs, and I haven't used it much. It averages out things around it (not by blurring, but by randomly cloning in parts of the surrounding area into the brush I think). This is perfect for removing e.g. blemishes on a face, for example.
The brushes have gotten much more useful too, something which matter a lot to me who mostly paint free-hand. All brushes (also image brushes and animated brushes) can now be scaled freely from their original bitmap. This means there is no longer a need to have brushes delivered in several different sizes unless you really need to have high resolution on the brush. There is no noticeable slowdown dynamically rescaling them, as far as I can see. Only setback I've seen is that I haven't found a keyboard shortcut to do this general rescaling, so far there's only a shortcut to rescale brushes made in the brush editor, as before. That will undoubtedly come, there's no reason not to have it.
The very first position in the brush list is now a place for your last cut-out image in the clipboard. This means that if you cut/copy something out, you can from then on select it as any regular brush (and can resize it like a brush too)!
The jitter is truly excellent. The Jitter essentially randmizes your brush strokes. Low jitter will make your lines just look a little uneven, as if you drew them with a real pen. Much jitter will look like a splatter brush. This I have used many times now in the dev version and I can tell you it's very, very useful for many different applications when you want things to splatter or just look a little randomized and personal.
The colour picker has a big brother now. This one is located by the colour palette and allows you to pick a colour from anywhere on the screen, not just inside the image. This eases work a lot, especially if you work on something for the web -- just open the browser next to GIMP, and grab the colour you want directly from the open webpage.
You now have support for a range of PS brush formats too. I haven't tried this, but it's a much requested feature.
Color management profiles seem to work. This means that you can load the colour profile of your monitor into GIMP (newer monitors have these), and the images will be optimized to show properly on that screen. You can also load printer profiles, so as to emulate how the image will look as a print. As far as I can tell, there is still no pure CMYK support, but these features will help a lot towards professional applications (I haven't really tried it out for myself though, so I'm not sure how well it works. Tutorials will no doubt be needed to explain this new part of GIMP).
Generally, GIMP now has its own windows manager. With it you can force windows to pop up in the right places, on top of each other and so on. Personally, I've never had any problem with this since I use Linux KDE which offers minute control over all such things for any program, but I know Windows users have had issues.
Overall I like 2.4rc1 a lot; it will be a good step up compared to the previous version, with many much needed new features. Once it hits stable and you don't need to compile it from sources anymore, I imagine there will be a flood up people updating.
Comments on this are always appreciated.