I’ve used Adobe products, on a daily basis, since well before Creative Cloud was even a thing.

Being creative in thought and deed is my raison d etre.

This often manifested itself digitally via PhotoShop, Premiere, After Effects, Audition (which I had used as Cool Edit Pro even before Adobe bought it), et. all.

Over the last few years my life has gone through some fairly drastic changes. More and more of my computer time has been devoted to Python and Security making a Creative Cloud subscription less and less justifiable.

So with much weeping and gnashing of teeth I cancelled that re-occurring payment. I must admit it hurt. Photoshop is as much a part of me as my guitar, hammer, etc.

So how do you even edit a photo without PhotoShop?

It turns out that I still have (and want ) to do audio / visual projects, just less frequently. I decided to try and see if I could do so, with any type of quality, using only gratis software. I was not thrilled to learn that I already knew the answer to the photo editing question above. It’s the GIMP.

Get Over Yourself Trip

The first steps in this process was not letting my ego get in my way. I know so many key combos, custom-settings, tips, tricks, etc in PhotoShop it was hard being ignorant and starting over with that peculiarities of the GIMP. I hit ctr-d and duplicated things literally dozens of times when I was trying to deselect a mask that first week…

To be fair GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is much better than when I had to sit in front of a Linux desktop a decade ago. I am not going to try and convince you that it is superior to PhotoShop although there are nerds that will argue that more vociferously that you might imagine. A huge bonus was that GIMP even opened some of my old PSD files with the layers in tact!

Once you get used to its quirks it’s quite useful. Somethings that are annoying ( the mask like box around layers…) you can fix in the settings. Somethings ( like ctr- not being zoom out ) you have to re-learn… Overall I am getting used to the GIMP. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a sign of mental illness.

Other Open Source and Gratis Software for Creatives

Image editing / graphic creation is not the only creative task I needed to figure out a new solution for. While the GIMP is a success story and the venerable Audacity is good at what it does – I have failed so far to figure out a free solution to replicate the tools in Audacity or Sony Acid. So if you have the answer please let me know in the comments.

If you have been paying attention you’ll notice I haven’t discussed what I used to replace Adobe Premiere. I think I am going to save that for a blog post of it’s own. Suffice to say I like my Premiere replacement more than the PhotoShop replacement.


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