Plugins help turn GIMP from a great program to a great one. They add new features, improve your workflow, and help make GIMP one of the best free alternatives to Photoshop.
But it’s complicated. The whole GIMP plugin experience is not very user friendly. may be hard to find, hard to install, and there are a lot of compatibility issues.
But that’s where we come in. In this guide we will walk you through where to get the best GIMP plugins and how to install them. So let’s get started
Where to Find the GIMP Plugin
Some are also very old. In many cases they haven’t been updated in a decade or so. There is no guarantee that the plugin will play well with the latest version of GIMP. Indeed, popular ones like GIMP DDS or BIMP plugins are now deprecated and not working anymore.
How to Install the GIMP Plugin
Inevitably, the installation process is also complicated. There are two main ways to install the GIMP plugin.
The first is the manual method. If your plugin is in a ZIP file then you need to copy the contents to the GIMP plugins and scripts folder.
- Unzip the download.
- In GIMP, go to Preferences > Folders. Find the Plug-ins and Scripts section.
- There are two folders in each section. One is the system folder, the other is the user folder. Select the latter then click Show file location in file manager to open it.
- If your download is in PY format, move it to the Plug-ins folder.
- If they are in SCM format move them to the Scripts folder.
- Now restart GIMP.
The second way is the automatic method. Some plugins come packaged with their own installation. Just double click and install it like you would any other app.
The installer is platform specific, so you may find plugins available only for Windows, but not for Linux or Mac. Also, remember that opening random installers from the internet is a risky business, so make sure your antivirus software is up to date and running properly.
There is a third option, which is to install a custom version of the entire GIMP application. A popular build found on partha.com comes with several pre-installed plugins, including Resynthesizer and G’MIC.
These are some of the best GIMP plugins, as we’ll see next.
GIMP 2.10 is one of the best free photo editing apps you can get. You can even use it with your RAW photos, but you’ll need to add your own RAW editor first. There are two main options, DarkTable and RawTherapee.
Both are worth testing, but we prefer DarkTable because of its more accessible interface, shallower learning curve, and some powerful features including masking tools.
Once installed, you can drag your RAW image into GIMP and it will launch DarkTable, where you can start editing. The effect is the same as what you get with the famous combination of Photoshop and Adobe Camera RAW, and just as good.
Another plugin for photo editors, G’MIC offers more than 500 filters and effects that you can use to enhance the quality of your shots.
The range is astounding. There’s the basics like emulation and film stock frames, more advanced stuff like noise reduction and other improvement tools, and even some 3D effects. You can use each one with the default settings with one click. But if you want, you can use a series of sliders for each filter to customize the look, and get the exact result you want.
Resynthesizer is one of GIMP’s oldest plugins, and one of the most important. It provides a set of tools based on working with textures. You’ll find the key section under the Enhance: Heal Selection menu.
It allows you to remove unwanted objects from photos completely seamlessly.
Heal Selection magically replaces the intrusion with the surrounding content from your image background, and blends in perfectly. So, if you remove something from the sky, the space will be filled with more sky. You usually have to use the Clone tool for that. This is a much more laborious process.
When you need to put a series of images together to create a panorama, Hugin is the best tool to use for GIMP. Easy to get started. Just load your images, define some common points on each, and the app will merge them together. It will also be true for mismatched angles and exposures.
Hugin works as a standalone application, and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Skin retouching is an integral part of portrait photography. Wavelet Decompose is the best plugin for that in GIMP.
The plugin uses an advanced form of frequency splitting. This divides the image into multiple layers, each containing a different set of details. This gives you very finely tuned control over which details you want to refine, and which to keep.
Sound complicated? Well, the concept is, but the practice is not. Just load the plugin and use the blur and smooth tool to make your skin glow.
Duplicate to Another Image
This simple script is a real time saver. Its name describes exactly what it does: duplicate the selection to another image file.
Can’t GIMP already do this? Yes, but not really. The Duplicate to Another Image plugin has more features. You can copy the selection to a new image the same size as the original, with the object in the same place, making it easy to change the background of the image.
Or, you can copy to a new image, and crop it to size, when you want to isolate individual objects. And you can copy objects to other images that you have open.
GIMP plugins come in many sizes and complexities, but they are often the only functions that you use the most.
This collection of over 100 scripts gives you a number of shortcuts for common image editing and graphic design tasks. You get the GIMP sketch plugin, some scripts for sharpening photos or adding frames, and some for generating effects or mimicking film stock. There are many things to play with. Everything is tested and fully compatible with GIMP 2.10.
Finally, Nik Collection, a professional-grade photo editing suite. It gives you access to pro-level sharpening and noise reduction, color filters, HDR effects, and more. This really takes GIMP to a whole new level.
So if it’s so good why are we keeping it until the end? Two reasons.
First, the free version of the Nik Collection is no longer officially available. You can still download it from the Internet Archive, and you can manage it if you already have it installed on your PC. Second, you have to jump over some hoops to make it work
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