Book Reviews

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Graphics Books

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GIMP Pocket Reference
Title:GIMP Pocket Reference
Author(s):Sven Neumann
Publisher:O'Reilly Media

This little book has proved a wonderful asset. Getting to grips with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, better known as the Gimp, is not an easy task, but this Pocket Reference contains just about all the important details. Having had a lot more experience with Adobe's Photoshop on a Windows platform, I was weary of getting my feet wet with the Gimp. I downloaded the program and duly installed it on my laptop. However, I'm not one for wading through a several hundred page PDF document to get to grips with a program, so opted for this Pocket Reference instead.

The book is very well thought out, giving just enough information about the product to get you going, without getting too in depth. The explanations are all concise and easy to understand, and follow a logical progression though the product. I did like the touch with the camels to signify where Perl scripts are used. As this is a reference guide, there are no examples, but the explanations are easy enough to follow, for you to try it and see the results for yourself.

The table of contents highlights the major headings, which are split into very nice and neat sections. The first two sections, 'The Toolbox' and 'Tools', introduce you to the menus and tools accessible from the "toolbox". These are probably the most important to familiarise yourself with, and the descriptions are very clear. Some of the tools are obvious, while others do need a bit of explaining, and it was nice to see the book gives the right level of attention to each entry.

The next section, 'The Image Window', is the biggest section and concerns itself with the menus and tools accessed from the image window, which is available when you open an existing image or create a new image. As with the previous two sections, the explanations are clear and at the right level of detail. There are several instances where Perl scripts can be used to manipulate images, with each clearly marked, but the guide doesn't include how to write the scripts as that requires a more in-depth explanation.

The two section marked 'Preferences' and 'The rc-Files' are concerned with your personal settings. While these are not necessary to use the package, they are worth getting to know if you intend to use the product more than once. The explanations cover the major default settings from the Preferences menu, all of which can be saved in rc files, to be loaded on the next invocation of the Gimp.

The 'Color Models' and 'Drawing and Layer Modes' sections cover the way the Gimp handles colour within your image via the use of colour channels. Although it's useful to know what it's doing, the end result is what you'll want from these sections. Whether you are simply lightening or darkening an image, or using more complex colour alterations, they are all cover here.

Finally the last section covers the file formats the Gimp supports and the level of support that can be obtained.

I have found this a very useful reference guide, even though I only use the Gimp to do simple image manipulation. If you are thinking of using the product or already do, then this is a worthwhile buy.

Rating: 10/10 - Virtually everything you need to know to help you create a masterpiece.