Digital Painting On A Budget

Isn’t Adobe Photoshop just great? You bet it is! It’s the industry standard for most of the images you see all around you everywhere you go. Wouldn’t you just love to own it, or software very much like it, without having to fork over so much money for it, or having to resort to illegally downloading and installing a pirated version? Well, i’m here to tell you that you can have your photo manipulation cake and eat it!

Though it’s no big secret, I’d like to shout out to all who either have not used it or even heard of it before that there is a piece of software out there that is not only cross-platform, it’s FREE to use, and can be every bit as good as Photoshop! All it takes on your part is the time to learn to use it. There’s no money to hand over whatsoever. I’m talking about the GIMP.


Surely one can't edit photos with this kind of gimp!

Surely one can’t edit photos in this kind of gear!

No, not THAT kind of gimp! THIS kind of GIMP!


GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and at time of writing is in its v2.8.4 incarnation. You can use it for so many things: photographic manipulation and retouching, image authoring and even digital painting.

There’s a version for most of the popular operating systems too:

  • GNU/Linux
  • Microsoft Windows (XP/Vista)
  • Mac OS X
  • Sun OpenSolaris
  • FreeBSD

It is skin-able, so that you can make it look like Photoshop if you so wish, and you can use Photoshop plugins too with a little work, using the PSPI plugin or the Shellout python module which launches an external program so that you may use the Photoshop plugins you wish to use, making it a very versatile piece of kit to have!

“But it doesn’t have CMYK support!” I hear the die-hard Photoshop fans out there cry. Not a problem! You can perform a workaround to give you some CMYK support, giving you those deep blacks that you so desire.

The greatest thing about GIMP apart from it being freely distributable software is the community of users and developers who support the program and offer solutions to other GIMP users. There’s no shortage of GIMP forums and websites to peruse should you wish to find out how to perform a specific task.

It is far beyond thew scope of this blog to go into detail about all of the things GIMP is capable of. After all, i’m just a story writer and a hobby artist, not a software reviewer, but i can at least save you all a lot of money simply by pointing you in the direction of GIMP, which you can find at

And if you’re in the mood to be trying out 3D creations, and you’re still in the mood to be saving yourself a small fortune, then your choice just has to be Blender, another fantastic piece of software that is 100% FREE, works on 32-bit and also 64-bit systems and is supported on multiple platforms:

  • Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7)
  • Mac OS X (PPC and Intel)
  • GNU/Linux
  • FreeBSD

Blender is available for download from

Violet, created and rendered in Blender by Lucas Falcao

Violet, created and rendered in Blender by Lucas Falcao

Go on – treat yourself to some great free software, get creative and have some fun!

4 thoughts on “Digital Painting On A Budget

  1. M.C. O'Neill

    It’s so great to see you blog this. We had conversed on this topic a while back, and I think this is a great post for indie and self-publishers who cannot afford the $1,000 USD price tag for P-shop – and that’s a’la carte!

    1. David EcclesDavid Eccles Post author

      It’s our recent convo that prompted me to write this, Mark. Anything to help a fellow author or artist out, and if it saves them some money, i’m happy!

  2. M.C. O'Neill

    PS – My library trip to England fell through, unfortunately (long story, but nothing terrible), so I took the price of the plane fare I had saved and took the P-shop plunge. Yeah, I bought CS6 a’la carte. One thing: if anyone does get CS6, be sure to disable automatic upgrades around the time of CS7’s release – or they’ll upgrade you and debit your account automatically! You may not have the funds to cover it and, if so, too bad, so sad.

    1. David EcclesDavid Eccles Post author

      That’s a real shame, Mark, but there’ll be other times, i’m sure of it!
      That’s very shady of P-shop to do that, and i’m pretty sure that’s not allowed unless you sign up for some sort of subscription in advance. It’s still a handy thing to know, though!


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