Book review: Beginning GIMP - From Novice To Professional by Akkana Peck

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So, you want a free software image manipulation program? You’ve always wanted to be able to smooth out your own photos? You’ve downloaded the GIMP, but when you open the program to have a go you just get intimidated? You can work out some of it, but you really want to optimise your use, and feel like you aren’t just wandering about in the dark? Where should you turn in this situation? Well your first stop should definitely be Beginning GIMP, From Novice to Professional by Akkana Peck.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

Beginning GIMP is an Apress publication, and lives up to the excellent standards we have come to expect from the “expert’s voice in open source". From the very beginning, Akkana Peck’s writing assures the reader that they are in good hands; her writing style is calm and straightforward, and she starts from the very beginning. Not even the most timid newbie will flounder through Peck’s concisely detailed instructions, and the end of each chapter contains a hands-on project for the reader so they can learn interactively.

Not even the most timid newbie will flounder through Peck’s concisely detailed instructions

The contents

Beginning GIMP weighs in at 483 pages—there’s a lot in it, but it isn’t so big that a reader would feel intimidated. It is so easy to read that the book can be read quite quickly, and the projects give the reader a sense of achievement. Beginning GIMP is divided into twelve chapters. Chapter one introduces the GIMP—navigating through the fairly unique interface that is the GIMP. Chapters two through six cover various aspects of image editing—improving digital photos, layering, drawing, selection, and erasing and touching up. Chapter seven showcases the filters and effects on offer with the GIMP, then chapters eight, nine and ten delve into more advanced topics: colour manipulation, channels, and layer modes; advanced drawing; and advanced compositing. Chapter eleven deals with plugins and scripting, and finally chapter twelve deals with additional topics such as printing, screenshots, configuration, and a list of additional resources to help you with your newly acquired GIMP skill!

Who’s this book for?

Beginning GIMP is ideal for beginners of the GIMP who want to become proficient. It’s also great for self taught GIMP users. While the initial chapters may seem too easy, there are lots of benefits for the self taught GIMP user, some of which will make the user say “Oh so THAT’S how you do it!" The later chapters are great for the more confident user of GIMP.

Relevance to free software

The GIMP is completely free software. It can be run on Linux, Mac, or Windows, and Peck has included appendices that describe how to install the GIMP on each.


This book is excellent for anyone who hasn’t used the GIMP but wants to, has the GIMP but isn’t quite sure what to do with it, or wants to optimise their use of the GIMP.


If you are a GIMP master or already familiar with Photoshop, you may find this book a little basic.

Title Beginning GIMP, from Novice to Professional
Author Akkana Peck
Publisher Apress
ISBN 1590595874
Year 2006
Pages 483
CD included No
FS Oriented 9
Over all score 9

In short



shawn grimes's picture

Books like this will introduce the everyday person to the world of FOSS and show them the type of software and freedom that can come from FOSS. GIMP's can seem daunting because it is different and not the way people are used to seeing things but I hope that this book will that just because it's different, doesn't mean it's bad. I'm going to pick up a copy for my Mother so that she can see you don't need to buy Photoshop to get a useful photo editing suite.

Shawn Grimes
Shawn's Blog

clievers's picture
Submitted by clievers on

I've used Photoshop for lots of basic stuff, photo editing, montages, etc. I've had a desire to learn The Gimp but haven't really gotten around to it. I've attempted a few things, but find the User Interface quite different, obviously, from Photoshop. This book should be a good guide for a newbie folk such as myself. I also agree that you don't need Photoshop for a phot editing suite, The Gimp should suffice nicely.

psychoscorpic's picture

I use Photoshop at work & Gimp at home.
Both have their benefits & failures (I manage to crash Photoshop on a daily basis)

The trick is being able to switch your mind from one to the other, and not expect it to be the same: Gimp is not a Photoshop clone! It's just different.
Books like this fill the gaps in user knowledge, enabling them to use the software as a tool, and not be dominated by the software & hype.

trollzor's picture
Submitted by trollzor on

I never get the whole photoshop whinge, I like the GIMP's UI. And most non-professionals are pirating photoshop, I think if you asked them to pay full retail they'd change their mind on a lot of things.

Heman's picture
Submitted by Heman on

We can get many of the photo editing or expressing software in these days. Even for my profession I have been using Photoshop CS5 which has outstanding featured. Photoshop has including many of lasted advance features, which is rarely have included on others. Now about the GIMP, I have also using this especially for home use, like creating effective or attractive photo stuff for posting on networking site such facebook, Mig33 etc. GIMP has also unique features, it easy to use, light functions, some I have also use it for my profession even, not much as a Photoshop. I am not saying it's too bad for use because we should know that everything is important on own self. I want to describe this free software as good to use for fun stuff and photo editing and with unique features.

Author information

Bridget Kulakauskas's picture


Bridget has a degree in Sociology and English and a keen interest in the social implications of technology. She has two websites: Illiterarty and The Top 10 Everything. She also handles accounts and administration for Free Software Magazine.