Since I'm tired of trying to get work done with the Gimp development team constantly pissing on the very idea of "utility," I've been investigating some Gimp alternatives. While it's going to be painful doing without the Gimp, there's other FOSS graphics applications that don't get nearly the attention they deserve. If we gave them some exposure, perhaps they would get some support and introduce those few remaining crucial features that will put them over the bar as Gimp replacements.
If you're associated with any of these projects and know of some more resources for any of them, I (and other readers) welcome your input in the comments section.
Pinta is a lightweight, simple image editor that's more of an xpaint on steroids than a full-featured image editor. It's a FOSS clone of the popular Paint.NET. That fact should make an obvious downside apparent: It uses Mono and to write extensions for it, you need Visual Studio.
For those of you still reading, I did get it to make a simple photo edit:
As should be painfully obvious even from this example, there's no smear tool, no magic-wand select, and no color select - three tools crucial to photo editing. But in a pinch, if you have nothing else, you can make do with Pinta. It is fast and easy, you'll learn it in no time. I found this review of Pinta on a fellow Linux blogger's site - I'm not having any problems with it crashing, but perhaps either they've fixed some issues since the review was posted, or my Fedora 17 just likes Mono better than Ubuntu does.
There's also an add-in manager, ready in place for perhaps some needed features to be born in the future. There's already a stack of filters installed through this system (blur, edge, renders, blah blah) but I couldn't seem to get any of them to make any visible changes?
Krita is a beautiful program packed with features. Part of the Calligra office suite, it's more for the serious graphics artist than photo-editing type work. But when it comes to a digital artist's easel, does it ever blow away the drawing tools in Gimp! It does things with brushes that shouldn't be natural. Tablets are made to use with Krita (and bless Linux Mint Nadia 14 for being plug-and-play for my Wacom Bamboo!). The interface is very well thought-out. You'll spend hours just playing with all the toys.
And now, the downsides: It crashed quite a bit on my set-up, and being a KDE program, this did not surprise me. Save early and save often. It's also starving for documentation, and again being a KDE program, this did not surprise me. And it has a steep learning curve after you get past the basics. This led to a merry challenge between groveling through the forums, trying out experiments, fumbling around trying to undo stuff, and recovering from crashes.
There's some very slick videos out there by established Krita artists on YouTube. So they may take time to watch, but could prove valuable for picking up tricks. I'd love to write some tutorials for it myself, but as always, it is impossible for me to share knowledge that I myself do not possess. So I'll have to play with it and see if it grows on me.
Til next time, kiddies, and remember: The first job of any tool is to get out of your way and let you USE it! Just say no to Gimp.