The GIMP vs. Paint.NET

[Note: This is an old post and I can now say that I have made a full transition to GIMP. Install of the newest version went smooth as silk but I will let all the information be on the page, as a history lesson I guess. I still like the interface of Paint.NET better and it's easier to use, but for serious photo editing you need GIMP. Thank you for your interest.]

Desperately trying to win a Sony DSC-H10 or a Sony Alpha 900 in the VAIO Photo Elite contest, I've decided that I cannot win this unless I unleash my Photoshop abilities. Unfortunately I haven't got Photoshop. But thankfully there are free alternatives which are just as competent, and less bulky, than Adobes award winning, extremely expensive photo editing software. Those of you who read my last post know that I placed Paint.NET as number four on my easiest to use software/OS top ten (unfortunately Blogger decided to transform my countdown list to small yellow blobs). And I also said that GIMP was slightly harder to use. And here is why.

While waiting for Paint.NET 4.0 (which probably won't be released anytime soon) and long awaited features (like: RGB Channels, masks, native customizable brushes, a skewing tool, a smudge tool etc.) I decided to try GIMP… again. My most recent experience was when my hard drive decided to fail and I played around with Ubuntu on a live DVD. GIMP is competent and fun, but it feels… a bit GNU-like. So what's wrong with that you probably wonder (especially you who don't know what GNU means)? Well, GNU assumes you like starting programs from command lines, and editing bin files to make things run smoothly. When toying around in Linux this seemed fun, but for everyday use it's a bit tedious.

So installing the newest GIMP 2.6.2 on my Vista system proved no different. The language was in Swedish and since 99% of Photoshop/Paint.NET/GIMP tutorials out there are in English I wanted to switch to an English interface. That was easier said than done. After realizing that you could not change the language in the program I consulted the GIMP forum. I was not the only one with the problem, and it had been "resolved"… on XP. The mental vision in my head was of a bunch of GIMP developers grinning at my "incompetence". By accident I stumbled upon a Flickr forum where Fran├žois Collard had solved it by creating a batch file.

  • Open notepad and write the following lines:
  • set lang=en
  • start GIMP-x.y.exe
  • Where x.y is the version number of GIMP (check the folder Program Files/GIMP x.y/bin)
  • Save as GIMP_en.bat and make a shortcut on your desktop (you can change the icon using Properties>Change Icon and browse the GIMP x.y/bin folder and select the original exe file.

When you start GIMP with this batch file everything will be in English. Hooray. To be fair The GIMP is an excellent choice for broke amateur photo editors with the will to fiddle around a bit. It is more powerful than Paint.NET. If you are a broke amateur photo editor with less or no programming skills Paint.NET is for you.

A GNU program you shouldn't even bother with is Jahshaka (video editor) which is truly incomprehensible, even in English. See you next time when I'll discuss "How to spot a desperate salesman".

Update 1.
Since many of my readers visit this page I thought I would extend with some further details.

Features in GIMP you would like to use in Paint.NET:

  • Customizable docks
  • Brushes with variable softness (feather)
  • Eraser with transparency setting
  • Masks
  • Channels
  • Perspective tools

Features in Paint.NET you would like to use in GIMP:

  • Opening multiple pictures in tabs
  • Setting English as your default language
  • A simple interface that is easy on the eye
  • The fantastic Curves+ tool

It seems that GIMP has won, at least on paper. And that is where I am torn; I like all the features in GIMP, probably like them more than similar features in Paint.NET, but Paint.NET is just so easy to use. It really is an upgraded version of MS Paint. Simple, sleek, but with quite advanced features, which makes Paint.NET my first choice. Paint.NET 4.0 is exciting news, and some of the features I miss will probably be implemented then. I should give GIMP another try someday, but not now: I am having too much fun in Paint.NET!


Anonymous said...

I like http://www.blingeasy.com

Ruub said...

Thank you anonymous for your tip. Although blingeasy can be fun it hardly qualifies as a photo editing software. But please readers try it out.

the guy who typed all that said...

I agree. Paint.NET is fun, and implements common shortcuts like users are used to (like holding down Ctrl to add to a selected area instead of Shift in Photoshop).

Rick said...

Wow, I'm sorry you had so many problems installing GIMP. I had done so in Vista a while back and experienced none of those issues! I have since switched to ubuntu on my laptop, and I think GIMP runs even better in a Linux platform. I'm not a coder of any kind, and I can use GIMP as easily in ubuntu as I can a Windows platform.

I've only seen Paint.net, have never used it, but I will say that it doesn't appear to be as comprehensive of an app as GIMP. What I like about GIMP is all of the scripts and extensions that are available for it, and it imports Photoshop brushes directly. I've been using GIMP for about 5 years now, and I think it's well worth the learning curve that you experience when you first get going with it. Thanks for the comparison article here.

Ruub said...

Oh, yes I agree with you Rick, GIMP is certainly worth the time and effort to learn! Layer masks, and different brushes just don't exist in Paint.NET. And those tools are really useful if you want effective photo editing.

Since I wrote this blogpost I've been using GIMP more than I did before, and also on Ubuntu. The features keep amazing me but when I just want to do a quick edit I rather open Paint.NET than GIMP. And I do think it's because the layout (which will be comforting for Windows users in particular). But GIMPs interface is largely customizable so it shouldn't make a big difference.

So I'm still partial to Paint.NET and this comparison has brought me no closer to understanding why I rather open Paint.NET than GIMP when I need to edit a photo. At the moment I'm using both and I'm quite happy about it.

Thanks for all comments and keep them comming!

Anonymous said...

Technology really has become one with our daily lives, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further develops, the possibility of transferring our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://kwstar88.zoomshare.com/2.shtml]R4 SDHC[/url] DS FFBrows)

Anonymous said...

They're both good really. If i had to
pick, I'd say GIMP. It's awesome.

My Thoughts said...

If ease in usage it your only consideration to pick paint.net, you can try GIMPshop a modified version of GIMP to better suite the taste of a photoshop user. though i haven't tried it myself, it might help some one make a smooth transition...

Anonymous said...

Please stop recommending GIMPshop, especially if you never tried it yourself.

As a regular GIMP user who also helps a lot of GIMP newbies, I find myself needing to keep telling people to uninstall GIMPshop and and just use the latest versions of GIMP.

GIMPshop is very out of date and never was that stable to begin with. Even for seasoned Photoshop users it's much better to just spend a couple of hours getting used to differences.