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GIMP vs.Paint Shop Pro Death Match part 2: GIMP just hit the floor

Today's experiment has been succesful beyond my wildest dreams. I now know that I can't do that.
I tried to color the comic with Ecoline, a transparent water-based range of paints that used to be used in professional comics in the Netherlands in the 1970s and '80s. Then, the art was colored at published size, on a blueprint of the line art. Now, like many other products, it's falling into disuse, and I thought I'd learn about it while the product was still available at all.

"Ecoline", BTW, comes from the French, "├ęcole" and was originally introduced as a way to introduce kids to the properties of transparent paints without distracting them with other issues such as the need to mix or dilute colors. I remember using it in school; what I don't remember is learning a damned thing about it. It's only in the past few months that I read about the proper technique for creating flat color areas in it — a technique that I obviously haven't mastered yet. It takes a bit of practice and a lot of patience. I'll have another go soon enough. As it is, it doesn't look too bad although it's more a watercolor effect than the kind of flat coloring that I wanted.
I didn't do the backgrounds in Ecoline, though. I wanted to create grey, flat areas for those, but found that the black Ecoline, which I thought I could dilute to make greys just like I did with the other colors, didn't behave like the other colors... I couldn't control the opacity and going over dark areas with more diluted ink resulted in them being washed out even after the darker areas were dry. Ecoline is not supposed to do that, I read recently. After mucking about with that for a while, I thought "to hell with it, I'll do the background in CGI."
Which brings me to my GIMP 2.2 tests.
Forget everything I wrote about the recent GIMP (under Windows — it's probably important to mention that) earlier. While I could get a background done that doesn't seem too wrong with the hand-colored figures, GIMP was uncooperative from the moment I switched on the scanner (when it crashed TWAIN, causing me to run back to the warm embrace of Paint Shop Pro for that part of the progress) to the final save. Lettering those large word balloons in today's Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan update was a particularly nasty form of torture. It's not so much the text tool itself that's at fault (although the seemingly arbitrary position in which new text objects appeared when I clicked on the canvas with the Text Tool didn't help) as the GIMP's handling of mouse events. When you do something with your mouse in GIMP for Windows XP, such as clicking on an existing text object with the text tool, or dragging and releasing it with the Move tool, GIMP may or may not do the same thing it did when you last performed the same action, and I can't tell for the life of me what makes the difference. If only it was consistent — if only the response to any attempt to edit an existing text object by clicking on it was always "I can't do that, Hal", I'd get used to it and train myself to access text objects another way. But now, it's a gamble every time. Experiments on pigeons have shown, with science, that this breeds bad habits.
I suppose it's better than the mouse handling in earlier versions, which didn't talk to Wacom tablets at all.
Oh, and I had to restart the application twice when it started to behave weirdly; the second time, I ended up having to reboot the computer, causing me to lose work. So it's not even that much better than Paint Shop Pro in that area.
I want to like GIMP. A lot of good people work on it, and having a free, open source, cross-platform alternative to Photoshop is just about the only protection the world has against Adobe's price gouging, which would make Bill Gates blush with shame or maybe envy. But it's beginning to look like the reason Adobe gets away with that is that making a high-performance, stable, usable pixel graphics app is very very difficult, and that the premium Adobe charges may be worth paying because they're the only ones who have actually accomplished it. A scary thought.

But maybe I'm seeing things a little too darkly right now. Maybe it's just one of these days when everything from making photocopies to finishing a page goes badly (uhm, I needed to copy on 120 grams paper, which the nearest shop turned out not to have, so I had to race across town to get to the next one). That happens, and usually the next day is more normal. Let's hope so, eh?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 23, 2005 7:02 AM.

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