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What is G'MIC for GIMP and how do you use it?

If you're looking to create beautiful, professional images with GIMP, G'MIC is a great addition.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Materials for photography
Abscent84/Getty Images

I've been using the GNU Image Manipulation Project (GIMP) for a couple of decades now. With this open-source image application, I've created book covers, marketing images, memes, and just about anything you can imagine. 

When people ask me what GIMP is, I usually say it's the open-source equivalent of Photoshop -- it's that powerful. 

Also: 8 things you can do with Linux that you can't do with MacOS or Windows

But one thing GIMP misses out of the box is a set of plugins that help to combine different filters in ways that make it easy for you to add all types of effects to your projects. Yes, you can use the default filters to change your images, but sometimes the right combination of filters can be a guessing game. That's where G'MIC comes in.

G'MIC stands for GREYC's Magic for Image Computing and it's a GIMP plugin for digital image processing. G'MIC provides a GUI interface for GIMP that allows users to convert, process, and visualize images with different combinations of filters. With this plugin, you can select from hundreds of different filter combinations, each of which has a dramatically different effect on your images.

G'MIC includes both command line and GUI options, but we're going to concentrate on the GUI tool. 

First, we have to install it.

How to install G'MIC for GIMP

What you'll need: You can install G'MIC for GIMP on both Linux and Windows. The Windows option has a handy .exe installer, so you can simply download it and double-click the file. Of course, you must have GIMP installed for this to work. 

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distribution

I'm going to demonstrate installing G'MIC on Ubuntu Budgie. If you use any distribution that isn't based on Debian or Ubuntu, you'll need to alter the installation command.

1. Open a terminal window

The first thing to do is log in to your Linux machine and open a terminal window from your desktop menu.

2. Close GIMP

If you have GIMP open, make sure to save your work and close the application.

3. Install G'MIC

From the terminal window, issue the following command to install G'MIC:

sudo apt-get install gimp-gmic -y

Once the installation is complete, you can close your terminal window.

How to use G'MIC

Using G'MIC is much easier than you might think. Here's the basic process.

1. Open GIMP

Once GIMP is open, you must either create or open a new image before you'll have access to the G'MIC tool.

2. Select the layer to be manipulated

Next, you must select the layer in the image you want to use with G'MIC. If your image only has one layer, you don't have to worry about this step. 

Also: How to use the Galaxy S23's new magical Photoshop-like trick

If, your image has multiple layers, you can select the layer in the bottom-right corner of the GIMP window.

The GIMP layer selecter.

Select from any layer you have in your image.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Open G'MIC

Once you've selected the layer to be worked with, click the GIMP Filters menu and then select G'MIC-Qt.

The GIMP Filters menu.

G'MIC-Qt is the GUI side of the G'MIC tool.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Select your filter

When G'MIC opens, you'll see three panes. The left pane shows the image layer you are going to manipulate. This pane will also show how the layer will look as you select a filter. The middle pane is the filter list. You can expand each entry to reveal the various filters to be used. The right pane will show the options for each filter as you select it. 

Some filters have an abundance of options to change, whereas some have few. Don't be intimidated by the options, as nothing is applied to the image layer until you actually click Apply. 

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You can play around with the slides and drop-downs to your heart's content until the image layer is exactly how you want it.

The G'MIC window.

You'll find a ton of different filters to choose from and each can be customized.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You can also apply multiple filters (as many as you like).

One thing to keep in mind is that some filters do take longer to apply. This process takes longer because some filters are actually a combination of filters that must be applied one at a time. The speed will also depend on how big your image is. If the image is large, and you've selected a filter that requires multiple passes to complete, the process can take a while.

Also: How to use Midjourney to generate amazing images and art

And that's the gist of using GIMP G'MIC. If you're serious about your images, and GIMP is your tool of choice, you owe it to yourself to include G'MIC in your workflow. This handy plugin has saved me plenty of time and effort in creating numerous images with a powerful impact.

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