CinePaint is based on a rewrite of GIMP and offers editing with 16 bit colour depth but is Linux only. Update December, 2011. There is now an experimental version of Cinepaint for Windows that may be ready before Gimp gets a 16 bit version.
You can download CinePaint from www.cinepaint.org.
Top Reasons Not to Use CinePaint
The CinePaint home pages provides a list of features then a list of reasons why you might not use CinePaint. The lack of a Windows version is a killer for many people and Gimp is working on a 16 bit version that will remove the biggest current reason to switch from Gimp to CinePaint. If you do not use Windows, read on. See update on Windows.
- You're content with proprietary tools Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter X, Corel Paint Shop Pro, or Apple Aperture.
- You're content with open source tools GIMP, Krita, IrfanView, Seashore, Fotoxx or F-Spot.
- No working Windows CinePaint version.
Top Reasons to Use CinePaint
The first reason for looking at CinePaint instead of Gimp is that some cameras now provide 12 bit and 14 bit colour depth instead of 8 bit colour depth. You want to work in 16 bit because that is the step up from 8 bit. There are a variety of reasons for using CinePaint instead of some other programs.
The following list is the CinePaint list of reasons for using CinePaint.
- Support for 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit color channels of deep paint.
- High fidelity image file types such as DPX, OpenEXR and 16-bit TIFF. These files can't be opened in ordinary 8-bit image applications (e.g., GIMP) without crushing them.
- High Dynamic Range. HDR images can go brighter than white. Ordinary images can't be brighter than a white sheet of paper (0=black, 1.0=white).
- Gallery-quality printing. B&W photographs have only one color channel and degrade quickly when manipulated as 8-bit images. CinePaint has higher fidelity and offers a 16-bit printing path to the print-head using GutenPrint.
- Color Management System. CinePaint uses LittleCMS.
- Flipbook. Movie playback of short sequences of images in RAM.
- Innovation. CinePaint offers features that go beyond ordinary painting tools.
- It's used to make feature films at major studios.
- Open Source. With various OSS licenses, because it uses code from various sources, including GPL, LGPL, BSD, and MPL.
- Friendly professional developers. Polite discussion forums.
- Being a CinePaint developer can be a good career move. CinePaint developers have gotten jobs at companies such as DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks, and Apple.
Ordinary cameras, scanners, image files, and displays work in RGB (Red Green Blue) mode with 8 bit per colour to give a total of 24 million colours. The human eye can distinguish 12 million colours. Why do we need more colour depth?
Every time you edit an image, you risk losing colour depth. If you work in JPEG format instead of a modern format then every edit smudges the pixels and colours together, destroying clarity and depth. By starting with 16 bit depth instead of 8 bit depth, you can perform a lot of changes before you run out of colour depth. Professional cameras provide only 12 bit or 14 bit colour depth but that is better than nothing and 12 bit colour still gives you a long way to go before you are reduced to 8 bit.
32 bit colour depth has theoretical applications and is mainly for future use. Today you could scan a painting in 32 bit mode then use computers to analyse the colours to highlight fine detail including fading or bacteria attack.
HDR, High Dynamic Range, is a combination of fact and marketing fiction. When you use a 12 bit or 14 bit camera to produce 8 bit images then you are using HDR. When you sell images professionally, the buyers often want 16 bit colour depth so they can edit the images and still retain 8 bit quality in the end result. How do you produce 16 bit colour from a 12 bit camera?
Real HDR is produced by using a HDR setting to produce multiple images then you combine the multiple images to product your 16 bit image file. You can only use multiple images on pictures that are still. Landscapes are an example. In a moving picture with people running around, you might take several shots of the background to give that more depth then take single shots of the people. The multiple shot sequences are at different exposure settings. In a high contrast scene, you take one normal shot then you take one at a higher exposure to bring out detail in the dark areas then you take one at a low exposure to capture detail in the bright areas. You then blend the different regions of the three images files to create a greater colour depth. If you shoot three images at one stop (photographic term) apart, the combination becomes 2 bits deeper, a 14 bit image becomes 16 bit. If you shoot five images at one stop apart, the combination could produce a 16 bit from a 12 bit camera.
I tried to download CinePaint in Ubuntu. Ubuntu is based on Debian, Debian tends to have the absolute oldest version of everything they can find, and the latest version of CinePaint is dependent on a newer version of GTK+ not yet in Debian. Unfortunately Ubuntu does not bypass Debian on this issue and we are stuck with waiting for debian to update then for that update to propagate through to Ubuntu.
Ubuntu studio from ubuntustudio.org is a special package of applications included in an Ubuntu distribution and has the latest CinePaint included.
Fedora is the RedHat equivalent to Ubuntu. The RedHat distribution of Linux includes CinePaint but is a little behind the times in other areas. Fedora is the up to date version of RedHat and the better choice for a desktop workstation using new hardware. This one of the few times when Fedora is an advantage over Ubuntu.
The Mac OS X, Apple's current flavour of operating system, is based on one of the Unix's that contains CinePaint.
Test CinePaint against Gimp while Gimp works on 16 bit. CinePaint does not offer me enough advantages to work through installing CinePaint on Ubuntu Linux. I will wait for a future Ubuntu with CinePaint ready to install automatically.