[Courses][gimp] Sources for more GIMP information

Akkana Peck akkana at shallowsky.com
Sat Apr 9 13:46:25 EST 2005

This week, we'll take a week off from lessons.  Instead of a formal
lesson with homework, I'll tell you about some good sources for GIMP
related information, tutorials, and fun.


If you've been to any GIMP web sites at all, you've probably wondered
about the little animal GIMP uses as a mascot.  If you haven't met
him yet, his face is at the top of the front page at gimp.org.

His name is Wilber.  You're not supposed to ask what kind of animal
he is, or if he has a body, because those are secrets.  (I thought I
knew the answers to these questions, but it turns out there's some
disagreement about it and I got scolded, so I won't risk saying what
I thought the answers were.)

Wilber has his own Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilber

The Wikipedia page mentions the Wilber Construction Kit, available as
docs/Wilber_Construction_Kit.xcf.gz inside the gimp source directory.
(If you google for that filename, you can probably find it online
somewhere without needing the whole source tree.)

The WCK is a wonderful little toy which shows how useful layers are
in GIMP: it's full of layers of hats, glasses, expressions and other
accessories to use to explore the many facets of Wilber's character.

There are a few other Wilber images around, including a large
vectorized one you can use if you need to make GIMPish logos ("Created
with GIMP" or anything like that) at a larger size than the WCK allows.
A Google Images search for wilber and gimp will turn up plenty of choices.


I owe most of my GIMP knowledge to an excellent book called
"Grokking the GIMP, by Carey Bunks.  The whole book is online at

I visited the gimp-savvy site a couple times when I was just starting
out with GIMP, and read specific chapters online for my particular
projects. The third time I did that and got my questions successfully
answered, I decided I really ought to buy the book.  I expected I'd
use the paper book the same way, but to my surprise I started reading
at the beginning ... and before I knew it I had read the book cover to
cover, and had become a complete GIMP addict, making multi-layered
images and spending way too much time browsing gimp related web sites.

The book is written for GIMP 1.2, so it's somewhat out of date with
respect to where specific items are in the menus, and on some features
which have been improved, like the text tool.  But most of the
concepts remain unchanged, and I expect the book would still be very
useful for anyone interested in getting further into the GIMP.


There's also quite a bit of documentation on Gimp's website, gimp.org.
Just click on "Documentation": there's a whole GIMP manual there,
full of useful information which is fairly up to date, plus shorter
howtos, lots of developer documentation and other goodies.
The GIMP developers work hard to write documentation and keep it up to
date, especially compared with most free/open source project: there's
a lot of good in-depth information available at gimp.org if you look
for it.  Don't make the mistake of assuming that since it's free
software, it isn't worth looking for docs.


There are some great tutorial collections on creating specific effects
in GIMP.  Start with the ones on gimp.org: http://gimp.org/tutorials/
There are also some other tutorial collections hanging off gimp.org,
like Carol's: http://carol.gimp.org/
and Tigert's: http://www.tigert.com/gimp/tutorials/
(I think there are others, but they seem to move around a bit).

There's also the "Gimp User's Group", or GUG: http://gug.sunsite.dk/
There are lots of tutorials here, and also a huge assortment of sample
art, if you want inspiration or just want to browse a lot of pretty
art.  I've found the GUG site to be somewhat inconsistent: if it
seems to be down, try again later.  There's also a GUG mailing list,
but it doesn't get very much traffic.

WinGIMP.org also has quite a collection: http://www.wingimp.org/tutorial/

Another good collection of GIMP tutorials:

I have some links to fun individual tutorials I've found (like
"Turning a person into an alien") in the Tutorials section of

But don't stop with GIMP tutorials!  It turns out that most Photoshop
tutorials give you most of the information you need to do the same
effect in GIMP, so if you're trying for a particular effect, it's
worth googling for "photoshop" and "tutorial" if you strike out
looking for a GIMP-specific one.  I've learned quite a few
tricks from reading Photoshop tutorials and then applying the
techniques in GIMP.


What if you feel like GIMPing something, but you don't have any
specific ideas, or need inspiration?

Or what if you're just bored with all your video games and TV and want
a time waster that's a bit more interesting and humorous?

Check out some Photoshop Contests!  A number of web sites have formal or
informal contests where they announce a theme, and then people create
images (typically funny or outrageous) following the theme.  Usually you
can vote on the winner; sometimes there are even prizes.  It's fun to
browse and laugh at the images other people have created; it's
equally fun to enter (sometimes there are even beginner categories).

Sometimes they provide a sample image, and you modify it somehow;
other times, it's just a general topic, like "Experimental Aircraft"
or "Genetically Modified Animals", and it's up to the entrants to find
appropriate images to modify.

Don't be put off by the "Photoshop" in the name; the word is being
used as a generic term for "image manipulation", and it's perfectly
kosher to enter an image created with GIMP or any other program.

Go check out some of these sites: I guarantee you'll get some laughs,
whether or not you're motivated to enter any contests yourself.



There are also more serious sites for posting (or viewing) digital
art, like GUG, http://gug.sunsite.dk/ (which I already mentioned for
their tutorials) and http://www.dpchallenge.com/

Another good source of inspiration is the contest the gimp developers
had recently for the 2.2 splash screen.  Some of the images there
are really stunning.

There are also lots of collections of amazing (and funny) digital
creations by individual artists.  Sometimes they use gimp, sometimes
photoshop.  It doesn't matter -- they all *could* have been done
with gimp, so they're good inspiration either way. :-)

Our own Danamania has created some great designs based on
Apple hardware: http://www.danaquarium.com/gallery/vhacks
and she has some interesting creations of other sorts
(check out the cars!): http://www.danaquarium.com/gallery/misc

Another good site I found out about recently:

And of course, there are some great sites if you just want to learn
more about photography techniques, or share your photos with others
and get feedback on them.  I'm partial to
http://photo.net/ and http://www.luminous-landscape.com/


There are lots more sites besides the ones I mentioned here!
Anyone have any favorites to share?


I don't have a topic for a next lesson yet.  I'd like to hear from
the students in the course!  What do you want to hear about?  Are the
lessons so far enough to keep you busy for a while, and maybe it's
time for a break?  Or is there anything in particular you'd like to
learn how to do?  Any techniques you've tried, but they aren't working
out as well as you'd like?  Any tips you've discovered, or insights
you've had, while working on gimp projects, that you could share?

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