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What I learned today (3)

The GIMP is really appallingly stupid.
Imagine you have an SVG file that you want to import. Its original size is something like 580 pixels wide, but that doesn't matter: the good thing about vector graphics is that you can scale them losslessly. So in the Import dialogue, you enter the new resolution (600 DPI) and the new dimensions (280 mm wide - this is for print), and you click OK. So, do you get a file that's 280 mm wide at 600 DPI? Nooooo, what you actually get is a file that is about 990 pixels wide. At 600 DPI, that's about 1 1/2 inch, which is considerably closer to 40 mm than to 280.
Mystified, you close the file, and try again. This time, the outrageously, appallingly stupid file importer has caught on to the fact that you want to import at 600 DPI, but has merely guessed that you want the canvas dimensions to stay the same and has calculated that that means you want the file to be about 3800 pixels wide. You set "280 mm" again, check the dimensions in pixels, and this time they look all right, so you import.
With the next few files you import, things go exactly as in your second attempt, but the system you're working on being Windows, you are forced to reboot before completing all your file imports.
After rebooting and opening GIMP again, the scenario of your first attempt happens again, but this time, before hitting "OK" you enter "280 mm" and then check the pixel size a few more times. Each time, the unbelievable, amazingly stupid GIMP returns the wrong dimensions, until you decide to hit "OK" and close the resulting window in a cargo cult attempt to trigger the scenario of your second attempt. That works, as cargo cult magic often does in the world of computing.

Of course, I could tell you stories about Photoshop 6.0, which while being considerably less stupid than GIMP, has the even greater drawback of hating my guts. One day, I'll build a Photoshop 6.0 out of twigs and leaves to appease it. Or I'll wipe it with a magnet. Whichever is more satisfying.

Update: The ordeal that was importing those files was nothing compared to the ordeal of finishing them up for print in Paint Shop Pro. After a morning spent battling Photoshop and an early afternoon fighting with the GIMP I'd had enough of both, but PSP managed to top them in general orneriness and refusal to OBEY!!! my commands, which were really limited to expanding the canvases on six large images and adding a single word of text to one of them. Do those actions really require so much memory that they can't be done on the studio machine no matter what else I shut down? And is it really useful for a program to tell me to change my memory settings when there's no clear way to do that? I'm afraid I rather lost my temper at some point.
Eventually I bit the bullet and added the text in Photoshop, which knew not to push its luck and obeyed obediently. Undoubtedly it crapped two different drives full of swap files in the process.
The good news is that at the end of this proces, I had six printed A3 pages at high res, based on the low-quality master files I made for the Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan story "Clerical Underground" I made in 2001. On balance it might have been marginally easier just to rescan and re-letter them, but probably not. In any case, the pages have come out with a clean, vectorised look that will look good on the walls of Vera as part of the second edition of the "Verhip een Stripmuseum" exhibit. And that's great, because the people there were really insistent about wanting to have my stuff.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 6, 2005 1:12 PM.

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