GIMP 2.6 Cookbook by Packt Publishing
Packt Publishing recently released a new book called "GIMP 2.6 Cookbook", written by Juan Manuel Ferreyra. Today we are reviewing it.
When it comes to learning new software, I think both manuals and tutorials are equally important. Manuals give you background, tutorials give you actual practical skills. Not so long ago Packt Publishing released a cookbook for GIMP 2.6 users by Juan Manuel Ferreyra. I finally got around reading it and I thought I’d share my opinion.
Just for reference, here is contents of the cookbook:
Chapter 1: Using Draw and Paint tools
Chapter 2: Image Filters and Effects
Chapter 3: Text and Fonts
Chapter 4: Photo Manipulation
Chapter 5: Playing With Color and Sharpness
Chapter 6: Web Design Tips: Buttons and Blogs
Chapter 7: Web Design Tips: Backgrounds
Chapter 8: Plugins and Scripts
Appendix A: Beyond GIMP
Appendix B: Release Changes from 2.4 to 2.6
Essentially, the cookbook is a collection of 50 tutorials that on 408 pages cover basic uses of GIMP, plus a short reference to filters and effects.
The big advance of the book is that it is written in plain, easy to understand English. Every tutorial is separated into steps, and every step is written in a very concise way. I found most of the tutorials very easy to follow and accomplish.
While covering very basic techniques, the book touches use of some advanced features and filters which I think is a rather smart decision. Understanding essentials of advanced tools is crucial for continuous study and improvement of skills.
Additionally the book refers to some 3rd party scripts and plugins which is something I would recommend to every GIMP book author. There is a whole universe of various add-ons for GIMP that implement major features and automate solving various tasks. If you are curious about ways to extend functionality of GIMP, the book provides basic information on that.
E.g. the cookbook covers essentials of a 3rd party Liquid Rescale plug-in that is immensely useful for fixing image composition and removing objects. And a reference to GIMP Paint Studio in the “Beyond GIMP” appendix is something I’m really thankful, because this project makes a huge difference to artists.
I have, however, several major concerns about the book.
The “Image FIlters and Effects” chapter doesn’t follow the chosen methodology and is rather a reference to filters and effects than a collections of tips and recipes. Unfortunately I found knowledge of the author on some of the filters a bit on the lacking side (i.e. edge detection filters are rarely used directly). If you want to understand GIMP filters, I’d rather reading the official user manual which provides some useful background.
Not all of the books is original content. Some of the recipes are rewrites of existing GIMP tutorials, especially in the “Text and Fonts” chapter. In my opinion, this is something to be avoided.
Both chapters related to photography are somewhat focused on fancy effects, whereas there’s a number of important topics not covered at all.
The chapters on web design do not cover cutting graphics and creating actual HTML pages. The relevant information for some reason is in “Image Filters and Effects” chapter, it’s rather scarce, and that will immediately create a huge gap for a newbie.
Finally, some factual information is outdated or incorrect. Luckily, there are very few places where this occurs, so it isn’t critical.
So, here is my rating:
Precision of instructions: 5/5
Ostensiveness of illustrations: 3/5
Contemporary trends relevancy: 3/5
The book is good for people who want to dabble in GIMP and try basic effects and tricks, learning some advanced features of GIMP along the way. If you already are advanced GIMP user, you might find the reading somewhat boring.
"GIMP 2.6 cookbook" is available as both hardcopy and e-book (PDF and ePub).
As a last note, Packt is one of the very few publishing houses I know of that financially contribute to actual free software projects. Hence if you choose to buy this book, you will also contribute to GIMP project.
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Packt Publishing, 2011