Glimpse inside the new GIMP

Canvas Panning

GIMP now allows you to pan out of the layer image border if you need to reach those corner places. This option is very helpful during selection and painting sessions.

Core Changes

Without a doubt, the most significant change that GIMP 2.6 introduces is the use of GEGL (Generic Graphics Library). GEGL provides a new engine for GIMP and will eventually handle all the image processing tasks. The new engine will bring GIMP back alongside the big boys of the image industry. The support for higher bit depths (16, 32, and more) is a big plus, in that it opens up possibilities of native GIMP on HDR formats like OpenEXR and HDR and in support of various color profiles with higher bit depths, such as Microsoft's scRGB. That also means GIMP can find some use in the film industry, whereas up to now, CinePaint was the only open source alternative.

Higher bit depth is not the only advantage GEGL offers. GEGL's processing is based on what is called the graph-based processing framework. One of the major advantages the framework provides is the ability to cache data changes. Caching data changes in turn allows for non-destructive editing (or layer effects, as they are called in similar apps).

Also, all filters will be processed by GEGL, which will allow better quality in some operations than does the current aging architecture. By its nature, GEGL will also provide accelerated functioning while working on larger resolution images. This might also allow faster image updates to the screen. (Note that in this release, GEGL is disabled by default because it is a work in progress. However, users can enable GEGL processing from the colors menu.)

This fresh release of GIMP shows its changing face and showcases some of the new technology that will be the mainstay of the future GIMP. This version has an improved interface, making the work of the developers, usability experts, and the interaction designers clearly visible. If GIMP continues in the same direction, happier times await.


  1. Gaurav Nawani is a lead graphic artist at IronCode Software. He is an OSS enthusiast and a freelance writer. Gaurav is the editor and designer of BlenderArt Magazine (

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