GIMP is not for everyone. It must be built, configured, and customized on each Unix-based system where it is installed. GIMP: The Official Handbook does a valiant job of explaining the technical details of this process. For instance, If you want to add support for a graphics tablet, chapter 41, "Drawing Tablets and GIMP," describes how to make the necessary configuration changes and includes instructions for recompiling the application so that it recognizes the new input source.
Full sections on GIMP's basic usage, navigation, tools, and scripting language, Script-fu, as well as how to compile plug-ins, use different filter types (render, distort, color, artistic, etc.), and create animation using AnimFrames are just a few of the 47 chapters that make this book worthwhile.
There are six appendices covering many technical aspects: GIMP start flags and initialization files, GIMP manual pages, Perl-Fu scripting, installing scanners, and more. GIMP: The Official Handbook doesn't want for technical information. A 32-page color section includes screen shots and examples of what GIMP can do, plus how many of the filters work.
GIMP is emerging as a breakaway application in the never-say-die grassroots movement of the open-source initiative. With its powerful scripting languages, plug-in filters, and the free nature of its distribution, GIMP is a powerful asset to any Web artist or any multi-platform digital artist. GIMP can show you how to use, and make the most of, this robust graphics application. --Mike Caputo