Evaluation Notes - Creating Original Art

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These raw notes are provided as our documentation and for your insight and entertainment. They are not meant to start a flame war. Wait for our complete analysis before reacting.

task: creating original art, a collage of found images and wild brushwork.

Open New File

  1. Image Size: width and height should be chained
  2. Advanced options are hiding the resolution part, which is something we are trying to achieve.
  3. X, Y resolution should be the same by default
  4. Many possible resolution formats, but in 99% you know what ppi you want to achieve.
    1. We can create two radio buttons. one for screen images (72 ppi) and the second for other print resolutions.
  5. With closed advanced options you shall be able to express if it’s print or screen img.
  6. When choosing img for print, the default resolution would be something like 300 ppi, but user could type other value (the same for X, Y resolution). In advanced options user could change X, Y resolution independently.

Open PDF

  1. It needs Ghostscript, so this should come as an installer option.
  2. something wrong with sizing the pages preview
  3. width and height should be chained, what happens if aspect ratio gets altered by the user: squash or cut?

Image window issues

  1. When closing last image window, GIMP should not quit, an 'empty' image window (grey, or with with Wilber, or tooltip) could keep the instance alive.
  2. When minimizing image window also toolbox window(s) should be minimized. (however that might be disturbing when working on many images at the same time and shifting between them)
  3. In a task bar user should see just the image windows.
  4. Maybe we could dock dialogs in the main image window. User would be able to have separate dialogs all around, or all in image window.
  5. In View/Dialogs menu user could chose the view mode. We should decide about the default after evaluating a mockup of the all-in-one concept.
  6. Inspector (toolbox) windows are at the moment real windows, and in general they are too 'fat' comparedd to the image window. for an optimal working environment they should have more ‘lightweight’ look, trimmer, more ‘athletic’. We need to limit those big push buttons that are common.


  1. We don’t like the fact the user has to install SANE plugin to scan. This should be one-click installation. After installing it should automatically see the scanner.

Aquire ScreenShot

  1. GIMP is partially duplicating functionality of the desktop environment, but we appreciate it also takes a screenshot of a single window, or area.
  2. Delay is good idea, but the phrase needs to be changed. Description may depend on the option chosen by radio button. There should be also appropriate tooltips.
  3. Two delays is too much.
  4. We need to show that’s it’s counting down.
  5. Name: take a screenshot of a single window
  6. more complicated options would be available in a separate plugin.

Acquire Scanner/Camera..

  1. Separate sub-menu item for webcam, scanner, camera.
  2. Right now Source window enables choosing right device, but the Source window would be shown just when there are multiple cameras, or multiple scanners connected.


We need organizing layers in folders.

Layer Modes

  1. Being mostly mathematical operations, their names could be clearer to express what really to expect.
  2. there are a lot of them, but we know that when using them for a longer time one can know/predict their result.
  3. the browsing of the modes via the up/down keys is crucial just to see what each does

general comment: Alpha channel should be more directly editable.


we evaluated most of the plugins, and did that within the context of this scenario, for alienating (modifying with an attitude) graphic material. we looked for the following traits:

  • does the effect fit the scenario, is it universal and combinable;
  • is the UI straightforward, a straight path between user goal and promised plugin effect;
  • does the UI encourage experimentation;
  • is the effect a one-trick pony; if so is it a great pony worth keeping.

Colors menu


  1. Works well, but it wouldn’t make the img realistic. therefore it shouldn’t be grouped with all other major realistic colour filters.
  2. The first 2 sliders should be replaced with a colour wheel. Slider for lightness should remain.


  1. All RGB courves should be visible at the same time, and one should have active nodes for manipulating.
  2. There should be possibility to type in the values of a node.
  3. idea: squeeze levels and curves into some docking panel.


  1. Nice and straightforward.
  2. effective rather only for low ranges (just below value 33 something really happens).
  3. could expand the lower range and compress the higher range of values on the slider

Invert and Value invert

Nice and quick


  1. Most of the people don’t know what's the difference between lightness and luminosity.
  2. Maybe change the one of the two to brightness.
  3. It should have preview.

Auto submenu

  1. Probably aimed at photographers, but exactly they wouldn’t trust all-automatic filters.
  2. On other hand, these filters don't do anything spectacular for graphic designers.


Channel mixer

  1. Values should be in percents.
  2. It works for splendidly for converting to monochrome, to experiment until you like what you see.
  3. For colour modes the UI is not good, it’s difficult to make the experiments, when changing the output channels .
  4. Save options are useful for creating filters. It would be a good idea to have easy access to different pre-sets (‘personal filters’).
  5. the user does not need to worry about files. GIMP can store it in the right place and add presets to a popup menu. user can also manage presets (delete etc.) via this popup menu. Other tools could work in a similar way.


  1. Not very useful in this scenario

Map submenu

Adjust Forground & Background

  1. Effects that the filter should apply are not predictible, as well as no direct control provided.
  2. Seems not tot work at all under Windows.
  3. Should stay out of core GIMP. Does not work properly at the moment.

Alien Map

  1. Does sth radical, it is rather interesting.
  2. No reset button or saving of parameters.
  3. Three check-boxes are not a good idea. Also changing the modes in this way is not good.
  4. Sliders are too technical. We need something that would encourage to experiments, and also give user bigger control over what it does. Now the sliders are too long.
  5. Changing the mode keeps sliders at the same place, which is strange, since the sliders have completely different function.
  6. Different names, not so technical, like instead of ‘red frequency’ – ‘red wobbles’, instead of ‘red phaseshift’- just ‘shift’ or ‘wobble shift’.
  7. unchecking a check box doesn’t mean deactivation of a pair of sliders, but not applying the effect of those setting, so maybe we shall use an eye icon instead.
  8. New default settings (0,7).

Color Exchange

  1. The default threshold settings should be above zero, because the else changes are unnoticeable.
  2. In separate color dialog the Hue value changes per 30 when you click at some point, and it doesn’t get set to the clicked point. for sliders where one can see the direct result along the slider track, we should set the value to the clicked point.
  3. other sliders, like the CMYK values, changes per 10, as guidelines prescribe. this is good, because one cannot predict what one gets.

Map Color Range

  1. The hue direction (cw, ccw) of how the color changes from the first range to the second should be presented.
  2. It’s nice to specify 4 points, but right now it isn’t controllable, because user can’t see what 2 paths through color space is set up.

Gradient Mapping, Palette Mapping

Nice and quick

Rotate Color

  1. All values should go from 0 to 360. We like simplicity so we would like to remove the input fields, but maybe that would be ‘too easy’.
  2. There should be smaller icons, better describing what they do.
  3. Units tab should disappear, hue units should probably always be degrees.
  4. Gray mode probable has still some bugs. We are not sure why gray shift is implemented in Color rotation.

Sample Colorize

  1. Nice effects, but looks sloppy, because of manual update (get sample colors). It should update once per sec while user is sliding around.
  2. The names for input/output level should be different.
  3. ‘Get sample colors’ button is not well place. Choosing an image in Sample dropdown, should trigger ‘getting sample color’.
  4. The dialog should be rearranged.
  5. There should be Apply, Cancel, OK buttons.

general comment: The creating of a gradient for more complex colorising is too difficult right now.

Color menu revisited


  1. It should have a good color picker instead of few old-fashioned colors.
  2. Doesn’t seem to meet the goals of artists.

Color to Alpha

  1. in general: the Color picker in all these dialogs should all be as good as the color picker in the toolbox.
  2. user control over this filter should be improved.

Filter Pack Simulation

Very cryptic, no-concept UI. Not relevant these days.

Maximum RGB Value

Direct enough.


  1. It’s very good for it’s original intent and experiments, but needs a goal oriented UI.
  2. Technical parameters don’t make sense.
  3. parameters cannot be saved.


Apply Canvas

Simple enough, although we wouldn’t recommend offer it to professionals. One trick pony. not to be included in GIMP distribution.


Should stay, easy to control and gives cool effects.


not good for experimenting, because there is no preview.


tendency towards kitschy effects. not to be included in GIMP distribution.


edge finding filter with a lot of combination potrential.


It is powerful, it is an application on its own. but there are too many options too even start experimenting. Why would a user start doing it in one dialog at the same time?


One-trick pony.


Interesting, but definitely needs a preview.


Good, it does what its name promises.

Van Gogh

  1. It has 12 parameters and no preview, which is unacceptable.
  2. It doesn’t do what it ‘promises’.
  3. We need to take it out or improve it, so that it does what it says.


It has no preview but quite a lot of parameters. The effect is rather kitschy.


Bump Map

Interesting, but needs less and better parameters.


The effort spend on trying to understand the parameters is not worth the effect. The parameters are too difficult to understand.

Fractal Trace

Not useful enough for creating a background.


Straightforward. Either one likes the effect or not. Peter says no, kitschy; Kamila says, that used in a correct way might give good results.

Make Seamless

Very simple and straightforward.

Map Object

  1. Not for Web Designers, also not useful in this scenario.
  2. A plugin with light adding would be a good idea, but a more specialized one.
  3. Material is interesting, but you could make it a seperate plugin.

Paper Tile

  1. Bad interface, because you need to set the parameters and see what happens.
  2. Does the values have to be connected together?
  3. Shouldn’t stay.

Small Tiles

  1. There should be separate vertical and horizontal slider for segments.
  2. Reset works in a odd way.
  3. If there is no important reason why the formula is there, then it should not be displayed.
  4. Useful but the interface should be simplified.


Is there any reason why it should be there? It is rather unnecessary to stay.


  1. Looks powerful but not at all straightforward, there are too many controls.
  2. We need to go back to the person who made it and ask what (s)he wanted to achieve?
  3. If we can make it simple then, then it is ok, we need to find purpose for it.


Creates new graphics with no relation to the current image. therefore it does not fit this scenario.


Plasma - no relation to the current image. Kitch alert. Better effects can be obtained by using other tools.

Solid Noise

It's purpose was probable to create textures, however this is usually done in a different way. Shouldn't stay in core GIMP.


Flame - generates random fractal patterns, not really connected to current image. Some parameters are too technical. Doesn't work for big images. Not appropriate for any scenario.

IFS Fractal

Interesting effects. Better parameters and preview needed. Better control over the should be possible. Probable useful for creating original art


One trick pony. Nice effect, but the parameters should be better to control the effect.

CML Explorer

  1. Huge, complex tool with very mathematical parameters. Gives interesting effects though, useful for creating textures.
  2. Better parameters and displaying them in a different way (for ex. dragable curves) would probable help.

Diffraction Patterns

No good preview - needs updating. Does not depend on current image. Difficult to control the effect, not self-explanatory parameters name.


  1. Should be more direct with better parameters.
  2. If more simple, might be useful for creating original art.


One trick pony. Puzzle effect that could be gathered with other childish effects.


no preview. one trick pony. shouldn't stay in core GIMP


Generates random textures, doesn't give a feeling of control over the effects. Enables to chose one of proposed textures without possibility to experiment with the effects (no parameters).


  1. Might be useful for graphic designers and when creating original art.
  2. Simplifying the options could make it a powerful tool.

Fractal Explorer

  1. Very complex tool with mathematical paramaters.
  2. Difficult to control, gives very abstract effects used for textures.
  3. Shouldn't stay in core GIMP.


limited vector graphic tool. it doesn't fit user scenarios

Sphere Designer

  1. not intuitive, the same things could be done in a better way
  2. difficult to control. could stay as a separate plugin

Blur submenu

Simple and straightforward: Blur, Gaussian Blur, Motion, Pixelized. However in Motion Blur the angle should be set not by a slider but rather by a wheel. Most of the plugins having angle parameters should be fitted with a rotating wheel type control.

Tileable Blur

  1. life could be as easy as setting vertical and horizontal parameters to set the border, and say how you want it to work.
  2. Also the two names IIR, RLE are wrong, they should say what they really mean (IIR : for photographic or scanned images, RLE: for computer-generated images).
  3. It appears twice in the menu in Windows version.



Quite good for adding missing rows when capturing img from camera.


Maybe more for experiments than for despectling.


Easy and straightforward for adding stripes.

NL Filter

Doesn’t improve the image in expected way, not for photographers.

Red Eye Removal


Filter values issue

What is better when using a filter second time… —should it keep the last setting? —should it have default ones? We need to answer these questions.



too simple for professionals, not worth keeping.

Curve Bend

  1. This should be done in a direct way by a tool, not a filter.
  2. It should also enable vertical and horizontal changes.

Useful probably for creating flags.


  1. The effect is interesting, but there should be better description of the parameters.
  2. For the light setting it would be better to have some kind of light rotation.

Erase every other row

  1. Gives a good effect; straightforward.
  2. But better controls would make it even better, probable some radio buttons instead of dropdowns.


should be done with a tool.

Lens distortion

  1. Too subtle effects for this scenario.
  2. (not in Windows/version 2.3.11)


Not useful for this scenario; kitsch alert.


  1. Really good for this task, but it should have better controls, than it has now.
  2. It’s worth to spend time on this filter, great effect.

Page curl

Not useful for this scenario; kitsch alert.

Polar Coordinates

Not useful here, and probably nowhere.


Quite essential distortion mechanism, but needs better parameters


Straightforward, good enough.

Value Propagate

We are not really sure of its goal, seems not very powerful

Video Plugin

  1. Should have a real preview.
  2. We should add some sliders for strength of the effect, distance between the lines, it would reduce the number of radio buttons. However we need to pay attention, so that it wouldn’t change into complex cockpit of a jumbo jet.


  1. No reset button.
  2. Could benefit from more understandable names (size, strength, offset for example)
  3. Users should also have possibility to save the settings.

Whirl and Pinch

  1. It could have option for choosing center point of the effect, however this would make it similar to IWarp, and the professional would use IWarp.


  1. The should be possibility to set the angle of the wind.
  2. We could have a 2-dimensional input control (a square with a movable dot in it) with X,Y standing for Threshold, Strength. Then it would be possible to drag around until you like what you see, input fields should stay for direct input.

Light and Shadow

Gradient Flare

  1. We need a more direct access to set the effect (the detour via the edit button).
  2. Maybe even you should create Gradient Falre Editor as a separate plugin.
  3. What we like is that you can set up the gradient your way, we see potential, but there are too many tabs, sliders in single window.
  4. The interface has to be improved.
  5. What worries us is dependency on standard gradients.

Lens Flare

  1. It need some two more sliders for size, and other artistic parameter (maybe for the color).
  2. We wonder if the size is set according to the size of the img. (NO- it does sth quite different than we expected!)

Lighting Effects

  1. Using many lights at the same time should have better UI. There are 6 lights, and to switch one off the effect you need to set its type to None. In the dropdown you have no clue which light are used.
  2. Maybe we could make the names resemble the real lights: spot light, soft-box.
  3. The plugin is too complicated for straightforward experimentation – too many parameters.
  4. The workflow to set up a realistic image is cumbersome.
  5. the two mapping tabs deserve their own plugin.


  1. Too many parameters, but can be good, after some improvements.
  2. By default the preview should be checked.


  1. It should be possible to drag or click at the preview for the effect.
  2. Random hue values need better clarification of what they stand for.
  3. It is so much better than the other Light and Shadow filters (has just right nr of parameters).
  4. We could change the name for sth similar to the tooltip (‘add a little star burst to your image’).

Drop Shadow

  1. No preview.
  2. There should be possibility to chain offset X/Y values.
  3. Can it be more interactive?


Useful, but it has to be more interactive, there has to be a good preview.

Xach effect

Not useful in this scenario, rather for Web Designers. But still too complicated a dialog and no preview.

Apply Lens

  1. The quality gets really bad, pixelated.
  2. Should be moved to lens distortion filters.
  3. We suspect that the same effect can be made with other filters.

Glass Tile

  1. Quick and straightforward.
  2. However the threshold ranges should be wider, from 10 to 50 is not enough for experiments.
  3. why does it not live with the other tile or lens filters?


HSV Noise

  1. dialog is titled: Scatter HSV? there more examples of this mismatch
  2. we had great random results, but we could not comprehend how we got them.
  3. although hsv colorspace is quite predictable, it is paradoxically unpredictable how the sliders influence the result one gets.


  1. No preview makes experimentation impossible.
  2. But in fact there could be just one parameter instead of two and a monochrome option too.

Random Pick

  1. It’s more a jitter, not noise, kind of artistic filter.
  2. It definitely needs more power, plus preview for experimentation.

RGB Noise

  1. Independent RGB checkbox needs a better name, because it just chains all R, G, B values.
  2. it is predictable what the sliders do, but that does not get you one step further towards your goal, because of the unpredictability of rgb colorspace.
  3. It is not easy to control the effect.

Random Slur

  1. very similar to Random Pick. same artsy faux oil painting effect.
  2. also not necessary in the standard distribution.


  1. Big difference between realistic and far out range.
  2. We could have a sticky mark for normal range and the far out-nonrealistic range.

Noise Filter Ideas

  1. One jitter dialog that controls spread amount, randomisation, nr of pixels, maybe even repeat.
  2. and also just two algorithms for pixel noise. One filter for good, realistic, photographically usable noise (but not fake film grain), and one for non-realistic, random, experimenter noise.

Edge Detect

In general we are not impressed with these tools for the task of detecting edges.

Difference of Gaussian

  1. It has potential, maybe with different input parameters
  2. It can lead to interesting effects, but right now it’s difficult to get there. Neither for detection edges and experimentation now, but the potential is there for both tasks.
  3. Better interface might it work.

Edge Detection

  1. We recognize that we can need this filter for further use as input for other filters.
  2. However, it doesn’t make good enough contours.


Too simple, didn’t really worked on the images we tried.


  1. Adds some strange cloth pattern.
  2. There could be the 2 dimensional (input square) way to set the values.
  3. For general purpose of experimentation it’s good. It has potential.


A bit too simple.


Convultion Matrix

Not for our scenarios, rather something for mathematicians. not in GIMP distribution.

Dilate and Erode

  1. they bring some oil-painting effects, which there are too many of
  2. Should go rather to artistic filters, or just disappear.
  3. No control over it.


Depth Merge

  1. Not very useful
  2. It can be done better by layer and layer mask.

Film Strip

  1. One trick pony
  2. Not good enough, too artificial, better would be a real filmstrip.

Comparing different approaches

  1. to support this (trying two or more artistic strategies), we need to introduce a very simple versioning system, with branching.
  2. ‘tree of versions’ -each of them would have a stack of layers, which has a stack of treatments.
  3. Saving a point in time would mean labelling it. Labelling the versions, changing the names 1.0,1.1,1.2…
  4. Branches – the structure should support moving the layers between versions.
  5. Side by side comparison by choosing different versions.
  6. Merging two versions: to be discussed later.

Wild Brush Work

  1. There could be filter brushes with parameters in the dialog box. (maybe even scrolling through filters to try them out could be possible).
  2. creating color palettes is convoluted.
  3. What we want to achieve is to paint in the same layer (if one prefers), and be able to control which paint/effect is more prominent in a chosen area, by just 'brushing' on some more of it. this mimics the ambivalence of physical painting: it both mixes with and covers existing paint when you brush it on.


  1. users want to adjust their brushes on the fly, just by pressing keys, user should be able to change the parameters.
  2. Brushes need shortcut for: color picker, opacity (not sure about the steps, that should be applied- it should be measured with usability methods), radius/size of brush.
  3. User could also ‘cycle’ through all 4 main paint 'modes' (airbrush, ink, pencil, brush). But opacity and scale of the brush has the absolute priority.
  4. It is important that for these 2 comments that the user would keep his hand on the keyboard in the same position.
  5. When changing paint modes we need to think whether to take care about the continuity of the size/opacity, or not, because the second tool might be a complementary tool.

Working with Palettes

  1. idea: blobs of paint on the edge of your window, just drag a color to this area.
  2. User could add blobs it with eye-dropper, or even could drag an effect (neon filter) on it, and paint with it.
  3. this palette of blobs is easy come, easy go, very temporarily and only for one file.
  4. even allow mixing of colors from blobs on this palette?
  5. color names don’t matter, unless user really want to give a name, then names would appear as tooltips, but user would never be forced to give names.


  1. We should change the Close button into Done in the text input dialog.
  2. When choosing a font, also in the dropdown you should have a possibility to type in the first letter and see the first entry starting with it (like in the textbox beside it).
  3. GIMP text editor- when checking the ‘use selected font’ then the cursor disappears and there is no focus.
  4. Typing directly on layer would be a better solution.
  5. it should be possibility to select an area to fit the text in text. The area would be a text 'column'. However we also like the fact that one click sets the top-left corner of an (unlimited) text block.
  6. It would be useful if the text could wrap around when reaching side edge of the canvas.This has to be optional.
  7. RTL mode seems not to work.
  8. idea: text box concept, user could have possibility to resize the text box and it would not be based on layer dimensions.
  9. When opening a text file only the files with right extensions would be open, and if an error appears, then there should be a good error message saying which file types are supported.
  10. It is difficult to move the text (in the Pick a layer or guide mode of the Move tool), because you need to click exactly in a rendered pixel of the text.
  11. There should be possibility to group the text together for some operation, like color changes. But it should give possibility to keep the sizes different.
  12. Resizing the text –should it be vector or pixel? Pixel- gives possibility to apply filters. User could start with vector, then change to pixel and apply operations/filters, then come back to vector, and all the effects should be still there.
  13. Spacing/kerning—needs to be investigated- typographical requirements.
  14. Still there should not be too many features. not add page layout functionality.
  15. We need to think whether the text tool should always select a piece of already existing text, or always start a new one. Because it’s a problem to find a text when there is a lot of text, but on the other hand if you want to create overlapping text , it is difficult, because you don’t create a new layer, just stick to the old one.
  16. Paths- when creating a path, it should be visible by default.
  17. Bug fixes- the text doesn’t match the path so well.
  18. Create Path from Text creates fine results for deforming texts, substitute of Vector.
  19. Text along path: Why does it always deform the text. probably it needs an option,
  20. The inspector, toolbox buttons could be replaced with heads up display.
  21. menu options for text should not appear in the Layers menu. we need a new concept where these menu items go.


  1. User shouldn’t be able to use any tool while saving (for ex. a brush). Even if it doesn’t save what got changed while saving.
  2. the most important thing about saving is that one saves exactly this picture, and right now.
  3. we need a big preview img window, but without rulers, menu bar, etc.
  4. We could set by default one tool while saving- i.e. Zoom tool, to see the quality details.
  5. We don’t like the solution to place quality slider and other settings in the existing image window.

saving jpeg for web

  1. There should be a really big dialog with a big preview. The dialog should be as big as the image window at the moment.
  2. some advanced options are too technical
    1. Priority A options have to be always visible, other should be ordered by categories but in collapsed advanced sections. We need to give them subheadings.
    2. priority A: quality slider, preview, optimized checkbox, maybe progressive (progressive size order – could GIMP know which gives in a result the smallest size)
    3. priority B other saving categories – i.e. smoothing
    4. priority C restart markers, sub sampling, dct method
  3. There is at the moment no Save for Web dialog.

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