Often touted as the Linux alternative to Photoshop, GIMP is a very popular open source application for editing images. Although it does look and function somewhat differently than Adobe Photoshop, it is Photoshop’s most serious open source competition.
A basic version of GIMP is often preinstalled on common Linux distributions. One of the great things about the app is that you can springboard from basic to feature-rich by adding as many as you wish of the various GIMP plugins available.
Most of the plugins are not difficult to install, and all of the ones listed in this article are absolutely free. What’s more, the plugins are not limited to Linux. They are compatible with Windows as well. Just check out each plugin’s official website for information on how to install.
Below you will find a list of 20 of the best free GIMP Plugins with some description as to what they do, how they do it and why you will want to check into them. Again, all of the plugins on this list are free—so you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying them out.
Layer Via Copy/Cut
This one, as you may intuit, is all about the layers. A must-have for designers or those who simply enjoy working with layers, and is very much like a feature found in Photoshop.
Using this plugin, you can select an area from one layer or even from a group of layers, and cut, copy or move it, turning it into a new set of layers. Simply install the plugin and then open it through your GIMP “Layers” menu.
BIMP—Batch Image Manipulation Plugin
Easy to use, and something you may find yourself using every day, BIMP lets you edit several images at the same time, and check out a preview of the changes you make before saving them.
Crop, rename, watermark, rotate or resize a whole group of as many pictures as you please and save yourself some time.
Polish up your photos with this comprehensive, user-friendly plugin. An all-in-one type interface allows you to adjust color and contrast elements of an image, apply cool filters and retouch the images until they’re exactly what you want.
Too dark, too bright… For those images that are just all wrong when it comes to lighting, the Contrast Fix plugin may be the answer. You can tweak settings until they’re just right, and may even run the plugin multiple times on one image.
Lensfun is the plugin to turn to when you’re dealing with lens distortion. Though it is capable of reading your camera and lens type from the EXIF data, you can also manipulate this information for desired fixes.
The plugin, once installed, can be found on the menu under “Filters—Enhance.”
It’s always a disappointment when that amazing, I’ll-never-have-another-chance photo comes out blurry, because your hands were shaking with excitement, or you barely got your camera up in time, or for whatever reason.
Happily, with the right plugin, it may be possible to sharpen up the blurred image. Refocus utilizes FIR Wiener filtering to fix blurry, out of focus pictures. A dialog box will open for you to tinker with the parameters and consider a preview of your changes.
This plugin lets you create amazing panoramic images by stitching regular images together. You can then touch up the seams by blending, correcting colors, and matching distortions until all you can see is the big picture.
Professional photographers love this GIMP plugin. It allows you to edit RAW images, correcting details, balancing color and temperature, and fixing exposure imperfections.
Like BIMP, UFRaw also allows you to work on multiple images at the same time, simplifying the process.
Similar to a Photoshop feature, Content-Aware Scaling, Liquid Rescale is a very useful plugin that gives you the tools you need to remove highlighted pieces from a picture and resize while avoiding distortion.
The preview of your picture allows you to touch up your changes and move parameters. After installing this plugin, look for it in the “Layers” menu.
Another must-have for any designers out there, this plugin lets you change your monitor’s ICC profile, make color-related modifications to photos, and convert from one color space to another. A simple, but extremely useful tool.
- G’MIC—GREYC’s Magic for Image Computing
Before installing this plugin, you can check it out by running the online version in your browser. If you’re like hundreds of others, though, it’s likely you’ll want to download this widely popular plugin for all it’s great features.
Within the framework of G’MIC, you will be able to process an image by applying the desired effects, filters and presets. Once installation is complete, you should find them in the “Filters” menu.
If you are moving to GIMP from Photoshop, you will find the Resynthesizer plugin to be very much like Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill. GIMP, however, purportedly had this plugin before Photoshop’s work-alike existed.
An excellent, serious tool, Resynthesizer lets you manipulate textures and objects in photos, moving them from one to another, repeating or removing them.
- Save for Web
Ever tried to upload an image to your website or blog and have to keep going back to resize or edit over and over? Save for the Web can save you some frustration and time, especially if uploading for web design, etc. is something you often do.
You can use this plugin to crop, scale, smooth and/or compress pictures before trying to upload them—and get it right the first time.
Once installed, Save for Web can be accessed through the “File” menu.
- Wavelet Denoise
Cut out the noise in a poorly lit photo or one hampered by imperfect camera settings. You will be able to preview and tinker with changes to the photo before they are saved.
If you are going to be posting your images on the web, and want to make sure they are not stolen and reposted without permission, etc., watermarking them is one of the simplest and most effective strategies.
A basic plugin, Watermark will be found under “Script-Fu—MyScripts” on your menu. Quite simply, you can use it to add a watermark to your image, any text, font, size and place.
- Elsamaku’s Filter
Pick and choose which of this plugins filters you can’t do without and install for a versatile collection that will let you play around with photos to your heart’s content. Classy, antique, brilliant—you’ll be thrilled with the possibilities here.
- FX Foundry
And if those aren’t enough for you, FX Foundry can expand your possible effects and scripts for images to a massive, amazingly fun and useful collection.
After this plugin is installed, it creates its own menu through which you can get to the widely varied effects and tweak the settings for each image.
- Script-Fu Bundle & GIMPressionist
More, give me more. Script-Fu Bundle is a package of effects with which you can transform a photo into a painting, sharpen it, frame it, edit its saturation and a hundred other things.
Some of the Script-Fu Bundle scripts can also be used through GIMPressionist, which also provides its own host of effects.
- Palette Generator
Keep things simple and exciting with this GIMP plugin that lets you fiddle with colors and create the palettes you need for any design project. Beats online tools by keeping your work in one place… and it’s just as free.
- Filter Pack
This is default plugin that will come with GIMP when you install it. Find it in your “Colors” menu. You can use this tool to play around with the color of your image, changing settings for the whole image or just one part of it.
It even has a feature which allows you to open individual windows to view and change all of the different color effects you’ve applied to one image.
As you can see, the possibilities appear virtually endless with GIMP plugins. What is your craving?
If you are a professional, photographer, blogger, web or print designer, whatever, GIMP is not going to let you down. All of the tools you need—and probably a lot that you don’t need but could have a lot of fun with—are available in free plugins.
If you are a beginner, or a serious hobbyist, or just someone intrigued by the whole photo/design thing, GIMP plugins provide the perfect place to dive in a little deeper and feel the love. Just start with whichever aspect most appeals to you.
Hopefully this list of 20 of the best GIMP plugins has filled in some information for you, given you a place to start, and gotten you excited with all of the options available to you. Obviously, these great plugins deserve to be explored in much more detail, something we encourage you to do.