Evaluation Notes - Photo Realistic

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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.


Edit photo-realistic images to production/exhibition quality.

Icons in the Toolbox

  1. it is not easy (=quick) to recognise and identify each icon
  2. should have strong contours, be good metaphors, differentiated by colours
  3. pen and pencil have almost the same angle and colour, at least the colour should be different
  4. better icons wich depict the actual effect, are needed for Dodge/burn tool and Eraser
  5. Levels, Curves, Threshold are represented by an icon of their dialog window, not the its meaning & function
  6. all the transformation tools look the same, the colour and blobby shape is the same, just the tiny details differ and show the function
  7. Ink tool would be better represented by an icon of a nib, which is the essence of the tool;
  8. Crop/resize icon is not enough differentiated from the background, and it’s difficult to know what it is; traditional two 'L's (like still used on mouse cursor) is better
  9. Measure icon tool is too complicated, too many details; old one was better (look at www.docs.gimp.org )

Open Image in Window

  1. Disturbingly, it is not a native dialog;
  2. Doesn’t show shortcuts/aliases/links to folders (under Windows).
  3. favourites is a native dialog feature available (almost) all platforms.
  4. a favourite folder should look like a folder
  5. Maybe GIMP could remember that during one session within which folder we want to see the files in Open dialog sorted by time.


  1. Open and Save dialogs should be implemented natively
  2. If you have cross platform projects, adopt them to the platform. Do not compromise, so that one size fits all.

Acquire Scanner/Camera

  1. To Scan you need to install SANE plugin. this can be traumatic experience
  2. first sub-devide these devices according to device type (camera, scanner, webcam) and only when there are multiple devices of one type connected, differentiate these by device name.

Open Location

  1. Technological solution, there is no user interface solution at all.
  2. It’s usefulness is very limited to copy and paste of technical addresses.
  3. Not acceptable is the fact that one has to type the whole "http://" part
  4. Not forgiving. It does the job, but you are not allowed to make any mistake.
  5. You should be able to go to a website and browse through the directories your way towards an image.
  6. drag-and-drop images works for IE , but not for Firefox.


  1. User has to adapt to machine! That’s wrong
  2. both dragging and typing should be supported
  3. Maybe there should be a small project to find the solution for a mini (ftp like) browser for Open location dialog.


  1. for print-oriented users, it is useful to also show CMYK in Levels.
  2. there is room for improvement in showing no only what happens to the extremes, but also make visible the the shift and expansion/compression of the tone ranges.
  3. Levels could display all channels at the same time, with different, half transparent colours.

Colour Balance

  1. It is good to have 3 different ranges to adjust (shadows, midtones, highlights).
  2. Now we can only balance colour of shadows/midtones/highlights separately. We don’t like architecturally that you can’t color balance 2 or 3 different regions simultaneously.
  3. idea: Replicate the 2 sliders for all 3 ranges and link the adjustment ranges by default.
  4. Taking one of 3 eyedroppers and changing for ex. hue, regardless of value and saturation, should be possible.
  5. Two dimensional solutions: specifying a location on the colour wheel with two sliders will deliver simplification of this process.

tool tips

  1. Initial time-out for the tool tip should be twice as long. So that the tool tip would not show up when you know what you’re doing. Probable the tool tips should come after 2 sec.
  2. There should be tool tips for all the tool parameters.

Healing tool

  1. There are many modes, but do we need them? Do we need all of them?
  2. Some of the parameters seems not relevant for this tool (hard edge, jitter).
  3. Alignment- registered doesn’t work well. In general the tool doesn’t work the way we expected.

Sharpen tool

  1. Water drop icon in toolbox is not a good icon for this tool.
  2. Should have setting of radius, amount, threshold. aligns this tool with the plug-in.
  3. Modes should be hidden, as well as some of the options like Apply jitter.
  4. In general it should be possible to apply unsharp mask using all four basic brushes (pencil, ink, airbrush, brush).

Unsharp Mask filter

  1. The name should be different, for ex. 'Power sharpen'. Present name makes people understand the work of a filter in a opposite way. Even if there are historic reasons for it.
  2. We should get rid of the preview, the whole main window is the preview.
  3. Make it more predictable what the parameters do. Maybe by image, other name? (however, people are very used to it)
  4. Since radius = (output ppi / 30) * 0.2, we should take the PPI and calculate the default value of radius. Yet the name Radius should stay the same.

Lens Distortion Correction

  1. Slider parameters are very technical. We should provide less and relevant sliders.
  2. You should be able to set on the picture the point at what your focus was on.
  3. With this filter we should be able to correct: Pincusion, Barrel distortion, Vignetting effect.
  4. If we really need this x,y coordinates, then let the user set it directly on the preview, not in dialog textfields.

Perspective Tool

  1. Names should be changed: Forward (Traditional), Backward (Corrective)
  2. Clip Result (this option will clip the transformed image to the original image size) should have appropriate name like: keep image size. And it doesn’t really work well.
  3. Why can’t it be simple, and let user draw it in the way that is natural for him.
  4. There should be grid, to which you align your transformation, not a grid of transformations.
  5. It would be useful to have constrains to keep the same height, like Shift when drawing straight line. also option for symmetry.
  6. Please: no meaningless matrix and no apply buttons.The numbers don’t match the user goals. Instead of going to the window and clicking for transform you should be able to click-apply when transforming on the image.
  7. No message at the bottom/tool tips.

Path tool

  1. We know and appreciate that there are many functions in the path tool, for adding, deleting, moving, changing paths, segments, nodes, curves. A matrix of what can be done should be prepared before designing future solution.
  2. Ideally there would be no modes and everything would be done using modifier keys. Leaving two modes would make modifying keys still available though. Current Move mode is not so important to be separate mode at the moment. Two modes would support two different phases: building up almost perfect path, and then fine tuning it.
  3. There should be just one key to switch between the modes. Choosing one of the keys, would let Shift & Ctrl be available for modifying paths.
  4. It would be natural for the user to trace an object's shape with the mouse pointer, by dragging. Then from this dragged path GIMP would calculate minimum number of nodes and it’s parameters to represent it. You could add nodes just by clicking. You could also stop to adjust handles.
  5. There should be possibility to lock just one Bezier handle for one control point.
  6. You should be able to scroll far enough to be able to for reach a handle even if it sits outside the canvas.
  7. Using and creating Paths are two different things.
  8. Creating few paths- there has got to be a quick way to say: I’m finished with this path (after designing), and start the next one.
  9. You could create selection by Return key.
  10. It’s quite unclear what’s part of one path and what’s not.
  11. We would like to have possibility to have multiple sub-paths in one path. So that the user wouldn’t be obliged to store paths individually, although they form one entity for the user..
  12. User shouldn’t be obliged to give paths a name, these can be automatic, use can change them.

Path Dialog

  1. It’s good that they are stored, and that you can make them visible or not.
  2. To chain a path means to chain it to the chained layer(s) layer, so that later a path will be scaled together with these layers. This type of chaining/anchoring is very powerful, but also very obtuse. Also it works completely different than in Layers.
  3. We see a big problem with paths that are related to image subjects on one specific layer and the fact that paths are global. We need to find solution how to express paths are local. We also know that paths are shared between different layers, and this also has to be expressed in some way.
  4. We can think about having a separate stack of selections and paths for each layer. Then we could share the selections with other layers. Atomic concept: that you can copy & paste and move around.
  5. ‘Create Selection from Path’ button is should not be in Path tool dialog, that’s abuse of UI style and besides it exists in Menu Select> From Path. Also ‘Stroke Path’ button shouldn't be here.


  1. There should also be Sections dialog, like a Path dialog. Channel dialog is not appropriate to store Selections.
  2. In polygonal shapes you have problems to edit selections, Quick mask doesn’t really work for this goal (paint approach) so you need to use Selection to Path. This quickly gets complicated. It would be easier to have Selection tool combing path drawing to select
  3. We don’t need involve layer masks for many tasks, if we have possibility to save and store selections, that are easy to modify.


  1. Would it be possible to save the history in the dialog. Undo levels in inspector would have step per control.
  2. Separate options in toolbox for levels should disappear, and it’s options should be integrated within one dialog.

Dodge & Burn tool

  1. Apply Jitter option is not needed here.
  2. It should combine choosing a brush type and then using dodge/burn.
  3. By default both tools should be quite subdued.
  4. Names should be changed into for ex. darken and lighter. It also needs better symbol for an icon.
  5. It should be possible to access all 3 modes: shadows/midtones/ highlights at the same time.
  6. A preview for applied opacity would enable to see how much effect will be applied for 100%, and then to chose how much you want to apply.
  7. You should have good control over how the effect is applied: once by mouse click, or continue enhancing it, or by choosing the brush.
  8. Mode popup should not be greyed out, it should not be there at all.

Brush for saturation

you wouldn’t have to make a selection and apply Saturation on an area, but just paint with it.


  1. Separate options in toolbox should be integrated into the Curves dialog itself.
  2. There is no possibility to see coordinates for the point. There should be possibility to type number for point coordinates (with very fine precision) in a textbox. If so you may not need mouse coordinates, because you see it.
  3. What coordinate should be used 100%, 255…? Maybe 255 is too technical. Maybe we can give user a possibility to choose, but what’s the best default then?
  4. To delete a point you need to drag it out now. You should be able to delete it also by using Delete key.
  5. There should be a Curve for the Saturation channel.
  6. When working on one of the RGB channels, it is useful to also see the curves of the other two channels (of RGB). Curves dialog would show editable active curve and semitransparent inactive curves under it. With some buttons user could shift between them.

Colour Balance

User should have possibility to sample ‘a colour’ from the picture, and say "I want less/more of this". Then either the colour would be compensated for, or the balance shifted in the direction of this color.


  1. Overlap concept is mystifying
  2. in general, an option allowing to identify highlights, midtones, shadows on the picture would be very useful.
  3. Painting with Saturation brush should be possible


  1. User doesn’t have to do the bookkeeping of layer dimensions, a layer can grow and shrink as needed.
  2. Layer name should be a default name (layer 12). Double clicking on a layer is fine to rename it , no dialog needed.
  3. There should be a default transparent filling of a layer (we should enforce the concept of a layer as a transparent slide, plastic)
  4. This all leads to the higher goal: get rid of the new layer dialog.

windows bug: it’s too easy to detach dialogs from toolbox.

Floating selection

  1. Floating selections are cool and powerful, but they have to disappear as a concept an user has to be conscious of. Things that are simple in the mind of user become difficult in achieving in GIMP.
  2. At the moment you have hard time getting out from floating selection, and is modal for the whole image.
  3. We’d like to get rid of floating selection as a layer concept, it’s rather part of the layer that you paste it in, or you can make a new layer with it (New Layer from Clipboard).

IWarp plug-in

  1. Should be a toolbox tool.
  2. Animation would remain a plug-in.

Info submenu


  1. as a stand alone dialog seems not to work.
  2. it should be combined with other filters, or removed
  3. it appears to us, that after doing levels to an image, further judgement is more artistic (done by an eye), rather than technological wise

Border Average

(sets FG to the average color of the img border)

  1. probable not here, or not at all. Getting the effect of immersing would be done with more precise tools.
  2. implementing color picker, that would enable to get an average color from selected area, would be a better solution, than choosing only border average

Colorcube Analysis

  1. Information that it provides: image dimensions, number of unique colors, uncompressed size; should be displayed in the right moment, like when saving file, since they seem to be important only when trying to achieve the smallest image size.
  2. There is no need to keep it as a separate dialog.

Smooth Palette

Creating a palette from the image colors would be better done within palettes. Then this dialog could disappear and become a kind of palette feature. However then better parameters should be implemented.

Save as

  1. Changing the name should be more easy. For example if you worked on image.jpg, then ‘image’ could be already highlighted, and you could just type the name without a file format.
  2. It’s important to be able to save work mask together with TIFF.

Saving files with layers into JPG

  1. Export, ignore: the terms are no good, what happens is not predictable.
  2. There should be a better dialog, safer, explaining more. (Now we will take this layer and merge it/flatten.)
  3. Better choice of the default formats (if a JPG file has layers, save it as xcf.)
  4. To be furthered discussed if it shall remember the last decision as a default or not. Because it may cause mistakes when it saves sth as JPG when user have few layers.

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