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nice article! i love seeing the breakdowns.
GIMP 2.10, the result of six years of work originally focused on porting the program to a new image processing engine, is finally here. The latest version brings new and improved tools, better file formats support, various usability improvements, revamped color management support, and more. Let’s study the newest GIMP.
Updated user interface and initial HiDPI support
One thing immediately noticeable about GIMP 2.10 is the new dark theme and symbolic icons enabled by default. This is meant to somewhat dim the environment and shift the focus towards content.
There are now 4 user interface themes available in GIMP: Dark (default), Gray, Light, and System. Icons are now separate from themes, and we maintain both color and symbolic icons, so you can configure GIMP to have System theme with color icons if you prefer the old look.
Color, Legacy, and Symbolic icons
Moreover, icons are available in four sizes now, so that GIMP would look better on HiDPI displays. GIMP will do its best to detect which size to use, but you can manually override that selection in Edit > Preferences > Interface > Icon Themes.
Icons in various sizes to adapt for HiDPI displays.
Contributors: Benoit Touchette, Ville Pätsi, Aryeom Han, Jehan Pagès, Alexandre Prokoudine…
GEGL port, high bit depth support, multi-threading, and more
The ultimate goal for v2.10 was completing the port to GEGL image processing library, started with v2.6 when we introduced optional use of GEGL for color tools and an experimental GEGL tool, and continued with v2.8 where we added GEGL-based projection of layers.
Now GIMP uses GEGL for all tile management and builds an acyclic graph for every project. This is a prerequisite for adding non-destructive editing planned for v3.2.
There are many benefits from using GEGL, and some of them you can already enjoy in GIMP 2.10.
High bit depth support allows processing images with up to 32-bit per color channel precision and open/export PSD, TIFF, PNG, EXR, and RGBEfiles in their native fidelity. Additionally, FITS images can be opened with up to 64-bit per channel precision.
Multi-threading allows making use of multiple cores for processing. Not all features in GIMP make use of that, it’s something we intend to work on further. A point of interest is that multi-threading happens through GEGL processing, but also in core GIMP itself, for instance to separate painting from display code.
GPU-side processing is still optional, but available for systems with stable OpenCL drivers.
You can find configuration options for multi-threading and hardware acceleration in Edit > Preferences > System Resources.
Contributors: Michael Natterer, Øyvind Kolås, Ell, Jehan Pagès…
Linear color space workflow
Another benefit of using GEGL is being able to work on images in a linear RGB color space as opposed to gamma-corrected (perceptual) RGBcolor space.
Here is what it boils down to:
- You now have both linear and perceptual versions of most blending modes.
- There is now a linear version of the Color Invert command.
- You can freely switch between the two at any time via Image > Precision submenu.
- You can choose which mode is displayed in the Histogram docker.
- You can apply Levels and Curves filters in either perceptual or linear mode
- When higher than 8-bit per channel precision is used, all channels data is linear.
- You can choose whether the gradient tool should work in perceptual RGB, linear RGB, or CIE LAB color space
Contributors: Michael Natterer, Øyvind Kolås, Ell…
Color management revamped
Color management is now a core feature of GIMP rather than a plug-in. This made it possible, in particular, to introduce color management to all custom widgets we could think of: image previews, color and pattern previews etc.
GIMP now uses LittleCMS v2, which allows it to use ICC v4 color profiles. It also partially relies on the babl library for handling color transforms, since babl is simply up to 10 times faster than LCMS2 for the cases we tested both of them on. Eventually, babl could replace LittleCMS in GIMP.
You can find the full breakdown of the latest version here.