GIMP started as a semester project by two fellows at the University of California in the year 1995. In its initial days, it was called General Image Manipulation Program, but later, got renamed to GNU Image Manipulation Program. For those unaware, GNU or GNU’s Not Unix is an operating system comprising of a collection of various free software and projects, licensed under the GNU project.
While GIMP, in itself, is one of the top image editing and manipulation software — that is feature-rich and free to use — it does have certain missing features and a few drawbacks, like any other software/service in the market. However, to overcome such shortcomings, it provides support for plugins, which are essentially modules that work in tandem with the software to offer more features and improve usability. So, in this article, we list down some of the best GIMP plugins to help you get the most out of this image editing software on your computer.
As its name suggests, Resynthesizer captures the texture or background of an image and re-generates it to allow you to get rid of elements in an image and seamlessly blend it with the background. It is one of the most popular plugins in the GIMP community, and is, essentially, a tool in itself with various manipulation features, when it comes to working with textures. Some even compare it to Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill tool, which also helps you get rid of objects in the background of an image and replace it with something that blends seamlessly.
2. Dark Table
For those of us, who capture images in RAW, and therefore, need an image editor that supports RAW image editing, without spending a lot of money, the Dark Table is one such utility that adds support for RAW editing on GIMP. While there are other solutions to get support for the same on GIMP, the UI and the ease-of-use on Dark Tablet makes it one of the preferred choices for many photographers. Besides RAW, it also supports other image formats, such as JPEG, CR2, NEF, HDR, PFM, RAF, and more. Not to mention, you get the usual image editing, color grading, and post-processing features as some of the leading image-editing software out there.
If you often use filters in your image to add an extra bit of flair to the image, you should definitely check out the G’MIC plugin. Simply put, it is a collection of filters (500+) and effects, with more added frequently, since it is an open-source project and is being developed and maintained regularly. Besides filters and effects, the plugin also serves a few other purposes, such as noise reduction, visualizing datasets of images, and image repair utilities to help you with basic editing.
4. Wavelet Decompose
For all your retouching needs, the Wavelet Decompose plugin for GIMP is one of the most useful and must-have utility. All it does is give you the ability to retouch an image and perform actions like smoothing skin, removing blemishes, wrinkles, or even spots, and adjusting other basic image enhancement functionalities like sharpening and contrast tweaking. To achieve this, the tool works by breaking down an image into different layers. What this means is that the finer and more prominent details go on the first layer, and the rest follow along down to the last layer, called the residual layer, which holds the details that are left behind after all layers have been extracted.
5. Duplicate to Another Image
As you can guess by its name, the Duplicate to Another Image plugin essentially allows you to create a new image by selecting any part of an image, which you can then work upon. Although GIMP does have its own built-in utility for the same, the ease-of-use and quick functionality that the plugin offers is unmatched. And that is what you exactly need while editing images — quick and easy access to different functionalities.
Hugin is another must-have GIMP plugin for your photoshop needs, especially if you work with panoramas. The tool is based on Panorama Tools, and it helps you stick together multiple images to create a panorama image. Unlike some of the other solutions that promise a similar functionality, what separates Hugin from the rest is that the service claims that it can stitch and combine multiple images irrespective of the orientation. And that, it only requires the user to have at least 20-30% overlap between the captures for best results. Moreover, you also get control over certain aspects of the stitching process to get the results as per your requirements.
Those are our recommendations for some of the best GIMP plugins you can use to add more functionality and enhance/simplify your editing experience.