When we talk about a software to edit images or vector graphics, surely the first that come to mind are two Adobe products, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Both are professional options, which are not exactly cheap, but they do have free alternatives that can be equally valid for many users. We are talking about programs like GIMP or Inkscape that in many cases can be used to perform many of the functions that we use with Adobe software.
Both GIMP and Inkscape are two excellent tools to replace expensive Adobe programs. Both are open source and free software, so we can download and use them without having to pay a euro. Although they may seem that they are two similar programs, the truth is that they are based on a different technology . Therefore, depending on our use, we must choose one or another option. To help you, today we are going to see what are the main characteristics of each of these programs, how they differ and in which situations we should use one or the other.
GIMP, image editor as an alternative to Photoshop
GIMP (Image Manupulation Program) is a program that is part of the GNU project and is freely available. It is software for manipulating digital images in bitmap form , with which we can perform tasks such as photo retouching. Similarly, we can compose and create images in bitmap form, both drawings and photographs, which means that everything is displayed as pixels in a rectangular pixel grid. In this way, when an image is enlarged, each color included in that image corresponds to one pixel.
Tasks that it is focused on
That is why this powerful software incorporates tools that are used to a greater extent for retouching and editing images, drawings and free forms . Its use is also very common to make photomontages, crop, convert to different image formats, among other tasks. In addition, it allows the creation of animated images in GIF format and animated images in MPEG format, using its corresponding animation plugin.
When it comes to opening and exporting images, GIMP offers support for a wide variety of files. Among them, it includes its own open file storage format , called XCF , which is characterized by allowing us to save and reopen the work carried out that contains layers, so that we can edit and modify these documents as many times as we need. In addition, it includes support for popular formats such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, PCX, TIFF, BMP, PIX and even Photoshop PSDs.
Inkscape, vector graphics editor as an alternative to Illustrator
Inkscape is a free and open source software with which you can create and edit scalable vector graphics SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). This means that the graphics drawn within this program do not lose quality when their size is modified. Whether they are being increased or reduced to infinity, quality does not vary, and, therefore, they are not pixelated. Also note that although Inkscape uses SVG graphics, it can also import images in bitmap form to use for vector designs. In this way, although it is not a photo editor, we can import edited photos into our Inkscape design projects.
Tasks that it is focused on
With this powerful vector graphics editor we can create and design objects since it has different drawing tools. We can also manipulate them (move, rotate …) and render them, allowing visualization with antialiasing . Other options to be carried out include being able to carry out fill and border work, as well as drawing operations by having a node editor and bitmap plotting. In addition, it includes support for simple text or paragraphs, as well as any system font that is not bitmap, so you can enter text by line and text in form.
Inkscape allows viewing and editing of document source code in the XML editor. It allows exporting files to PNG, DXF, PDF, PostScript, as well as exporting HTML code documents and animation files as SIF. In addition, it has conversion and export options from the command line and the possibility of creating and modifying files in vector-based formats such as SVG and EPS .
GIMP or Inkscape When to use each application?
As we have seen based on their characteristics, we are dealing with two software with some similarities, but they are really well differentiated. That is why we must use GIMP when we are going to edit and manipulate photos or when we are going to draw freehand. This is so since each pixel can be manipulated individually, which gives us greater control and flexibility. While it also allows for small graphic design tasks such as drawing shapes and curves, it does this based on pixels, but we will get jagged or pixelated edges when we enlarge the image. In short, GIMP is a tool specially designed for photographers, illustrators and game designers. It can be used as a free alternative tool to Adobe Photoshop .
For its part, Inkscape is a program that we are going to use when we are going to manipulate vector graphics . This makes it ideal for use when drawing curves, shapes and text, as they produce clean lines that can be resized and manipulated without losing quality. In this way, its use is ideal for creating logo designs, graphics and illustrations. Above all, it is important that we make with Inkscape any type of illustrations in form or text that we are going to print or need to be available in a variety of sizes. In summary, Inkscape should be used by graphic designers, marketers, or anyone who needs to create a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, layers, and web design. It comes as a great free alternative to Adobe Illustrator .
Download, support and compatibility
Both GIMP and Inkscape are two free and open source software that we can download from their respective web pages:
- Download GIMP . Available for Windows (32 and 64 bits), macOS (10.6 Snow, Leopard and higher) and Linux.
- Download Inkscape . Available for Windows (32 and 64 bit), macOS (10.11 – 10.5) and Linux .
As we can see, both applications are cross-platform , so they offer compatibility with both Windows, macOS and Linux. The latest stable version for GIMP is 2.10.12, which was released in June of last year. For its part, Inkscape has received its latest update to version 1.0.2 at the beginning of 2021.