This Christmas brought a very unexpected but welcome change to my line-up of equipment. My wife’s parents gave us a new laptop for Christmas! It is a 17.3 HP laptop that practically has a normal keyboard, complete with a 10-key pad, which is a big plus to me. So far it has been a dream come true.
One of the greatest things about the laptop is the power it has under the hood. It has a Pentium Dual-core 2.3ghz processor in it, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB HDD. It is officially the most powerful machine in the house. That immediately makes me say “I can work on my artwork on this thing!” However, working on any of the artwork for the comic on this machine means that I had to figure out a free way to do so, as my Creative Suite license is for Mac OS, not Windows.
Enter the Gimp. The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free alternative to Photoshop. Now, factory GIMP going toe to toe with Photoshop, it definitely isn’t as good. However, there are some mods out there that cater specifically to the needs of illustrators and digital painters. One mod, called “Gimp for Painters”, which was created by a Japanese user, adds what is called the Mixbrush to the toolset. This allows you to mix colors on the canvas, something that Photoshop CS4 cannot do.
Next is Gimp Paint Studio (GPS). This addon by Ramón Miranda adds a lot of custom brushes and presets to Gimp that makes it easier to jump in and start sketching and painting. One thing I have noticed is that Gimp seems to be more lightweight, which makes it somewhat faster. Also, working at tabloid size (11×17) at 300dpi seems to run a LOT smoother than it does in Photoshop. Not only does it run more smoothly, but it also renders better zoomed out. You’ll notice than in Photoshop, you will tend to get a lot of aliasing when you zoom out to arbitrary percentages. Gimp does not do this. At least not Gimp for Painters.
I haven’t done any full-on digital paintings just yet, but I have done a couple of sketches. So far I am impressed with this laptop and surprisingly impressed with Gimp. I might just have a new illustration environment! Sketches are below.
All digital sketch done in GIMP for Painters with a 2H pencil brush
All digital sketch done in GIMP for Painters with a standard round brush
Gimp for Painters
Gimp Paint Studio (Download version 1.4 on the right side of the page)