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Grokking The Gimp
by Carey Bunks
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The excitement described by Carey Bunks when he first beheld the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) in 1996 is palpable when you hold Bunks's new book in your hands. The phantasmagoric image on the cover of Grokking the GIMP: Advanced Techniques for Working with Digital Images melds a photograph of the moon's surface from a high orbit with an apparent solar eclipse by the earth. A penguin floats discretely in a hot air balloon between sun-earth and moon. Is the sun-moon-earth image a bit of the penguin's imagination? Is it a piece of GIMP artist/developer Tuomas Kuosmanen's imagination? Maybe it is really a credit to the visionaries at New Riders who have produced an art book to suit the computer how-to market.
"Grokking" is a Robert Heinlein-ism for "appreciating," and docent Bunks takes us through the museum of computer art and method as he demonstrates the features of the freely redistributable package. The contents follow that path set down by many other how-to tech book authors: tutorial, a taste of image theory, working with the independent features of GIMP (layers, selections, masks, and colorspaces) before advancing to compositing and rendering, and ending with a short review of Web-based applications of image manipulation.
The book's strengths are Bunks's obvious passion for his subject, his mature didactic style, and the wonderfully spacious design and breathtaking color-on-every-page strategy that allows him to beautifully frame GIMP features at their best. The most notable of his many case studies is the "Panorama" project that glues a series of laterally overlapping narrow-view photographs of an architecturally interesting room into a single, stunning, wide-angle panorama of the whole. Bunks documents each step in the transformation and describes the required geometrical, hue, and brightness adjustments needed to warp and blend them together.
Look again at the cover, but not literally. Ignore the unphysical details. Rather, imagine the mind's capacity for juxtaposition and GIMP's power for actualizing this visual synthesis. In form and content, Bunks and New Riders have shown that the possibilities for the tech book are far broader than previously imagined. This is an eye-opening contribution, indeed. --Peter Leopold
"Grokking the GIMP" is for the serious user of the GNU Image Manipulation Program, a premiere digital image editing and painting program. It covers the GIMP in depth, and complex tasks are intuitively presented and explained using an interactive approach. In addition to emphasizing the theory and core concepts of image manipulation, "Grokking the GIMP" beautifully illustrates the practical aspects of working with digital images. This fully 4-color book presents nine major projects and a collection of many smaller ones that illustrate the core and advanced uses of this powerful open-source application. Numbered steps and an abundance of color images walk the reader through real-world examples of color correction, image enhancement, collage, photo montage, rendering, and Web-graphics creation.
From the Author
A conceptual and practical guide to the GIMP
When I first discovered the GNU Image Manipulation Program, a.k.a. the GIMP, I was stunned. What a fantastic graphics application program! I was amazed by the number of tools and functions it provided for digital editing and painting of images -- over 300!
However, the sheer number of tools in the GIMP presents the novice user with a quandary. With so much built-in power, it can be difficult to see the proverbial forest through the trees. Which tools are best for enhancing a photo or color-correcting an image? What is the right technique for cleanly making a selection? It is practical questions like these that arise for many, if not most, image editing projects. For this, a book describing the GIMP's core tools is needed, one that highlights the tools that are the most powerful and most often used. Voila, why I wrote this book.
In "Grokking the GIMP" I have strived to intuitively explain the fundamentals of image manipulation, while simultaneously covering the practical aspects of doing it with the GIMP. My goal has been to explain the useof the core tools, but not by presenting a loose collection of tips and tricks. Rather, my vision is to explain these tools from a solid conceptual foundation. In reading this book you will learn much about the GIMP's most powerful tools, and, more importantly, how to use them effectively. Indeed, many professional image editing techniques are described here, some for the first time in any book.
In addition to its conceptual approach to image manipulation, "Grokking the GIMP" also presents nine major projects. These are invaluable aids in illustrating how the GIMP's tools are used to accomplish more sophisticated image editing tasks. They also give a clearer picture of how tools interact and should be used together.
Oh, by the way...if you are wondering about the word "grok", it is used by computer coders to signify a deeper, even metaphysical level of understanding. My hope is that "Grokking the GIMP" will help you do just that -- to better understand the GIMP and to better exploit its vast capabilities.
Enjoy, and happy GIMPing,
Carey Bunks is a Senior Scientist at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he currently works on a variety of research projects in underwater sonar, active noise and vibration control, and network security. He received a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987, and has since specialized in the area of signal processing. Carey has worked on problems of seismic imaging, image artifact filtering, and motion estimation from image data. He has over twenty publications in scientific journals and holds several patents.
Carey is also a member of the development group for Scilab, an open-source scientific and engineering computation package. He developed the Scilab signal processing toolbox and is co-author of the book Scientific and Engineering Computing with Scilab, published with BirkhÃ¤user in 1999.
In addition, Carey is a serious student of circus and vaudeville arts. He attended the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Clown College in Venice, Florida, graduating in 1977. An accomplished magician and juggler, he has entertained hundreds of groups in the U.S. and Europe with his street-theater style show. He is an authority on trick roping and is the author of the online book entitled The LassoâA Rational Guide to Trick Roping.
Carey and his wife, Homaira, live in Boston, Massachusetts. They enjoy sailing, skiing, and traveling in Europe.
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