Book review: The artist's guide to the Gimp by Michael J. Hammel

Book review: The artist's guide to the Gimp by Michael J. Hammel


The artists guide to the Gimp is a book that gets everything right. In terms of design, the book's layout breaks all the rules of how to make a computer manual: it is in landscape format, it's all in colour, and it's printed on glossy paper that makes you feel you are browsing a brochure, rather than a book. In terms of contents, the book covers everything with such ease that you end up reading the parts you weren't really interested in.

The book covers everything with such ease that you end up reading the parts you weren't really interested in

The contents

The book is just under 300 pages long. However, since it's in landscape, this is a bit of a deceptive metric: there book actually fits two pages of contents in each physical page. This means that by the end of the book, you actually went through nearly 600 pages worth of contents. This is a "trick" that was used by university study guides back in my student days -- and I guarantee that it works: the book this way is much less intimidating.

Just like my old university's study guides, the font is just about "big enough" not to be considered a little small. The book has a lot of screenshots (understandably, given the subject matter) which are also just about big enough: you can see everything, and yet you are not forced to carry a small brick around.

The book's contents are organised in such a way so that you can go through Chapter 1 (Fundamental Techniques) and then basically jump to whatever area you are most interested in: Photographic Effects (chapter 2), Web design (chapter 3), Advertising and Special Effects (chapter 4), Type Effects (chapter 5). Each one of these chapters are completely independent to each other, and explain very thoroughly -- and clearly -- the basic concepts and how to realise them using Gimp.

The first chapter, with the basics, is only 67 pages (but remember, that's actually 135 pages) but covers all the basics in terms of how to use Gimp. This chapter is the foundation: it manages to go through all of the fundamentals, without entering any one specific domain, and still keep it fun.

Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 are fantastic introductions to specific uses of GIMP.

Chapter 6 has a list of "case studies" where you can apply what you learned from the book. I would have loved to see more of them.

Who's this book for?

This book is for people who have never used GIMP and want to learn how to use it in a specific environment (for example web design). Or, for people who want to have a general idea of how to use GIMP in different scenario (chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5).

Relevance to free software

This book covers GIMP, which is a flagship program for the free software movement.

This book is for people who have never used GIMP and want to learn how to use it in a specific environment

Pros

This is a really, really good book. It explains everything well, in detail, without expecting any prior knowledge from you.

Cons

None that I can really think of.

Book --
Title The artists guide to the Gimp
Author Michael J. Hammel
Publisher No Starch Press
ISBN 9781593274146
Year 2012
Pages 295
CD included No
FS Oriented 10
Overall score 9

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Biography

Tony is the founder and the Editor In Chief of Free Software Magazine