2. What's New in GIMP 2.6?
GIMP 2.6 is an important release from a development point of view. It
features changes to the user interface addressing some often received
complaints, and a tentative integration of GEGL, the graph based image
processing library that will eventually bring high bit-depth and
non-destructive editing to GIMP.
Toolbox Menubar removed
The toolbox menubar has been removed and merged with the image
window menubar. To be able to do this a window called the empty
image window has been introduced. It hosts the menubar and keeps
the application instance alive when no images are opened. It also
acts as a drag and drop target. When opening the first image the
empty image window is transformed into a normal image window, and
when closing the last image, that window becomes the empty image
Figure 1.1. New Look of the image window in GIMP 2.6
Toolbox and docks are utility windows
With the empty image window acting as a natural main window, the
default window hints for the Toolbox and Docks have been changed to
Utility window. This enables window managers to do a much better
job of managing the GIMP windows, including omitting the Toolbox
and Docks from the taskbar and ensuring that the Toolbox and Docks
always are above image windows.
Ability to scroll beyond image border
It is now possible to pan beyond the image border, making image
window navigation much less constrained. It is no longer a problem
to use the edge of a brush on the edge of an image while being
zoomed in, and one can adapt the canvas to any utility windows
covering parts of the image window.
Figure 1.2. Scrolling beyond border
Renamed Dialogs menu to Windows.
Keep a list of recently closed Docks and allow reopening them.
Make opening images in already running GIMP instances work better
You can now enter the image zoom ratio directly in the status bar.
Added support for using online help instead of a locally
installed GIMP Help package.
Make it possible to lock tabs in docks to prevent accidental
Tools, Filters and Plug-ins
Improved Free Select Tool
The freehand select tool has been enhanced to support polygonal
selections. It also allows mixing free hand segments with polygonal
segments, editing of existing segments, applying angle-constraints
to segments, and of course the normal selection tool operations
like add and subtract. Altoghether this ends up making the Free
Select Tool a very versatile, powerful and easy-to-use selection
Figure 1.3. Polygonal Selection
Brush dynamics let you map different brush parameters, commonly at
least size and opacity, to one or more of three input dynamics:
pressure, velocity and random. Velocity and random are usable with
a mouse. The Ink tool, that supported velocity before, has been
overhauled and now handles velocity-dependent painting much better.
Brush dynamics have enabled a new feature in stroking paths. There
is now a check box under the "paint tool" option, for emulating
brush dynamics if you stroke using a paint tool. What this means is
that when your stroke is being painted by GIMP, it tells the brush
that its pressure and velocity are varying along the length of the
stroke. Pressure starts with zero, ramps up to full pressure and
then ramps down again to no pressure. Velocity starts from zero and
ramps up to full speed by the end of the stroke.
Added a bounding box for the Text Tool that supports automatic
wrapping of text within that bounding box.
Figure 1.5. Text tool bounding box
Move handles for rectangle based tools like Crop and Rectangle
Select to the outside of the rectangle when the rectangle is
Figure 1.6. Rectangle handles
Added motion constraints to the Move Tool.
Improved event smoothing for paint tools.
Mark the center of rectangles while they are moved, and snap
the center to grid and rulers.
Enable brush scaling for the Smudge tool.
Added ability to save presets in all color tools for color
adjustments you use frequently.
Allow to transfer settings from Brightness-Contrast
to Levels, and from
Levels to Curves.
Allow changing opacity on transform tool previews.
The Screenshot plug-in has been given the ability to capture
the mouse cursor (using Xfixes).
Display aspect ratio of the Crop and Rectangle Select Tool
rectangles in the status bar.
Desaturate has been given an on-canvas preview.
The Flame plug-in has been extended with 22 new variations.
Data file folders like brush folders are searched recursively
Replaced the PSD import plug-in with a rewritten version that
does what the old version did plus some other things, for
example reading of ICC color profiles.
Several displays use Cairo library.
Comparing 2.6 display vs 2.4
Under the Hood
Important progress towards high bit-depth and non-destructive
editing in GIMP has been made. Most color operations in GIMP are
now ported to the powerful graph based image processing framework
GEGL, meaning that the internal processing is being done in 32bit
floating point linear light RGBA. By default the legacy 8bit code
paths are still used, but a curious user can turn on the use of
GEGL for the color operations with Colors / Use GEGL.
In addition to porting color operations to GEGL, an experimental
GEGL Operation tool has been added, found in the Tools menu. It
enables applying GEGL operations to an image and it gives on-canvas
previews of the results. The screenshot below shows this
for a Gaussian Blur.
Figure 1.8. GEGL operation
Ported many widgets to use the 2D graphics library cairo for
drawing. See this comparison for an example of how much better
There are new things for a plug-in developer to enjoy as well.
For example, procedures can now give a detailed error
description in case of an error, and the error can be propagated
to the user.
GIMP 2.6 also further enhances its scripting abilities. In
particular there is now a much richer API for the creation and
manipulation of text layers. Here is a list of new symbols in GIMP
Some old scripts could not be used with GIMP-2.4. This has been
improved and 2.6 should run 2.0 and 2.2 scripts.
The Utility window hint is currently only known to work well in
the Linux GNOME desktop environment and on Windows starting with
Using the Text Tool is currently not an optimal experience.
Making it work better is a goal for GIMP 2.8.
If you build GIMP yourself and don't have GVfs support on your
platform you need to explicitly pass --without-gvfs to configure,
otherwise opening remote files will not work properly.