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Photo editing for nondesigners

How many of us curry favor with designer friends in order to get help with our photo albums or Web sites? Set yourself free with AdaptableGIMP.

Not every shot is perfect, but most are worth salvaging. Sadly, for most of us, image-editing software can be too intimidating or frustrating to use. Even GIMP, the open-source image-editing software, isn't immediately intuitive.

A Canadian usability research team has released AdaptableGIMP, which lets users search for tools based on what they want to do. It makes life much easier for nondesigners. Here's how to use it:

  1. Download and install AdaptableGIMP.
  2. Page through the intro screens and agree to take part in the research. (It will record some usability data.)
  3. Set up an account, if you'd like.
  4. Open up an image. Ctrl-O lets you browse your files for the image that you need to fix.
  5. Over in the toolbox, you can search for task sets created by other users. These can help you fix what needs fixing, sometimes automating the process. I wanted to fix a scratch, so I searched for "blemish" and got a tool set.
  6. Step 5: Select tool set.
    Step 5: Select tool set. Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  7. Click the "i" icon next to the tool set name to get directions. This information comes from a wiki, so you can expect the more popular or common tasks to have better instructions, but all the ones I tried were thorough and clear.
  8. The tools you need are easily available, so follow the instructions and you should soon have a better picture.
  9. Step 7: Use tools and instructions to edit photo.
    Step 7: Use tools and instructions to edit photo. Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  10. If you're feeling adventurous (or if a designer owes you a favor), you can add your own tool sets and info to the wiki.