10 Essential GIMP Plugins and Scripts

ducks and lake

The GIMP is a powerful open source (free) graphics editing software program. I use it frequently, since I can’t afford Photoshop and like the idea of open-source software. I have collected quite a few plugins and scripts over the years which make GIMP even more powerful. While the GIMP is not quite as powerful as Photoshop, plugins and scripts help take the GIMP closer to the professional level of Photoshop. Below I have listed 10 plug-ins and scripts, and collections of plugins and scripts, that make GIMP very powerful. These are the ones I use a lot and hope you enjoy. Obviously I have left out some, and may post on these later. I have linked to Windows versions if separate Windows versions exist, because I figure Linux users already know how to get the scripts and don’t need their hands held.

To install plugins on Windows, simply place the file or files (usually .exe) into the following folder:

c:Program FilesGimp-2.0libgimp2.0plug-ins

To install scripts on Windows, place the file or files (.scm) into the following folder:

c:Program FilesGimp-2.0sharegimp2.0scripts

Below are my favorites in no particular order:

1. Darla Purple Fringe – This script fixes purple fringing, an aberration in which some parts of  images have a purple outline. This is common on images shot on many digital cameras. This script helps fix the problem. I usually have to de-saturate blue to -80 to get the best result. Play around with the settings until you find what works.

2. GMIC for Gimp (Windows) – This plugin is a powerful collection of artistic, color, and other tools, which supercharges GIMP. Tools include soft focus, old photo, CMYK color mixer, fish-eye lens, additive noise, and many more!

3. Shadows and Highlights – This is a helpful script that allows you to lighten the areas that are too dark, and darken the areas that are too light. This is very useful in bringing out the details in regions of images that are too dark. However, it won’t “find” details that weren’t there to begin with; make sure you are taking photos that are properly exposed. The image above was enhanced using this script. The stumps on the far left of the image were practically black before I used the script.

4. Re-Focus – This is a nice plugin that sharpens an image in a smart way. I find that sometimes “Unsharp mask” (which comes with GIMP) gives good results, and other times, re-focus does a better job. Both, when used properly, sharpen an image without giving that over-sharpened look.

5. UFRaw – This is a program that runs separately from GIMP, but that is also integrated into GIMP. It allows processing of RAW files, before they are sent to the 8-bit GIMP editing environment. It is a nice program that allows for white balance correction, noise reduction, editing with curves, among other things. I wish it had a sharpening feature, but otherwise, I really like it.

6. FX-Foundry – This is a nice collection of scripts, which includes a lot of helpful tools. There are over 15 color tools alone, and many more in other categories. The one I use the most is “Contrast Overlay” which adjusts the contrast so that dark areas are brightened, and very bright areas are normalized. It also allows for the blurring of a layer, creating a nice “glow” to the image.

7. Technicolor 2 – I like the way this script turns a normal image into a more exciting one.  It makes an image look older and mysterious.

8. Eg Black and White – This script allows you to turn an image into black and white, and filter this based on color. UF Raw and GMIC also have tools for this, but this is a nice, easy-to-use, tool to do the job.

9. EXIF Viewer (Windows) – EXIF data is that information from the camera that tells you shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and a bunch of other information. GIMP doesn’t allow you to view this information without this plug-in.

10. Darla Blue-Sky Gradient – Sometimes the sky in a scenic image can be overexposed (losing detail because the area is too bright), which ruins an otherwise nice image. This script does a good job of fixing that, and making the sky blue (or whatever color you like) again. It does a nice job of knowing where the sky stops and the scenery begins.