From the day I was born I was busy drawing and painting. Well, maybe a bit exaggerated, but let’s say at least from the moment I can remember. I have always been busy visualizing my thoughts, my dreams and ideas. For people like me who were born in the 70’s, there were no digital tools available in our early childhood. So for years I used nothing but physical materials, like pen, pencil, brush and paper. However, when I was in my teens a friend of mine bought an Amiga 2000 in 1987 and showed what was and would be possible with this machine in digital graphics, I was sold. Digital drawing, animation and pixel perfect editing became my passion. First in my Windows years and after that in my Apple macOS years I always have been looking for great digital tools that could support my passion, such as drawing tablets and software. With my relatively recent switch to Linux and free and open source software, the search continued. For different use cases I found my perfect tools and in my opinion Krita is the best open source software for digital artists
From 2004 to 2009, Krita was strongly focused on offering a generic image manipulation / painting application such as Photoshop, but in the open source world we already know GIMP as an extremely powerful Photoshop alternative. Since 2009, however, the focus has completely shifted to painting and related techniques and a specific target group has been approached.
According to Krita’s website, it wants to offer the best painter application for cartoonists, illustrators and concept artists. It is an open source painting tool for both amateur and professional concept artists, illustrators, matte artists, cartoonists and texture artists. But in my opinion it is not only for professionals but equally usable for anyone who simply loves drawing and painting. Important to know is that this application is developed by real artists and so based on their experience they can build precisely what they need themselves.
Some characteristics of Krita
Krita is a huge comprehensive software solution and therefore has a large number of special properties. Here some of them:
User environment: Krita offers an intuitive user interface that does not get in the way of the most important things like the canvas. The dockers and panels can be moved and adapted to suit everyone’s specific workflow. After you have determined your preferred settings, you can save them in your own work space. You can also create your own shortcuts for frequently used tools.
Brush Stabilizers: Do you have a trembling or not so steady or just not that trained hand? Then add a stabilizer to your brush to smooth out jagged lines. Krita contains various ways to soften and stabilize brush strokes. There is even a special dynamic brush with which you can add drag and mass.
Brush Engines: Personalize your brushes with lots of unique brush engines. Each engine has a large number of settings to customize your brush. Each brush engine is made to meet a specific need, such as the color smudge engine, form engine, particle engine and even a filter engine. When you have finished creating your brushes, you can save and organize them with Krita’s unique coding system.
Resource Manager: You can easily import brush and structure packages from other artists to extend your toolset. If you make a number of brushes that you yourself are proud of, share them with the world by creating and sharing your own bundles.
Drawing assistants: Use a drawing aid to help with vanishing points and straight lines. The assistant tool comes with several unique assistants to help make perfect shapes. These tools range from drawing ellipses to creating a curvilinear perspective with the Fisheye Point function. Using multiple assistants at the same time when drawing is also possible.
Layer Masks: Non-destructive work on layers with masks. You can add a layer mask for transparency, filters or transformations. You can even add multiple masks for each layer.
Animation: Not long ago, the Krita team added a special new functionality: animation. It is now possible to make advanced animations within Krita with timelines, Onion skins, etc.
Support: Krita does not only offer the application, because the website is a comprehensive source of information with user instructions, tutorials, how-to’s, various manuals, support community and sources.
Krita: the best open source drawing, painting and illustration software in practice
I can ofcourse show some of my own drawings created with Krita, but even though I can draw pretty well, it is better and more interesting for you that I share some information about other, much better artists who work with Krita and push this software to the limits. One of them I personally think is rising above it, is David Revoy (https://www.davidrevoy.com/). This, in my eyes, fantastic digital artist calls himself a “digital artist using 100% open-source” and has been working for years with an open comic initiative under the name Pepper & Carrot. He not only uses Krita as his daily driver, he also frequently develops new brushes for Krita that he offers free of charge to the community.
And his brush kit is now so popular that Krita asked him to work on the default brush kit for Krita 4.0. He also explains on his website how he uses Linux and other open source tools and how he gets various drawing tablets working under Linux. If you want to get a good feeling and insight of what Krita really has to offer, look around on his personal blog (https://www.davidrevoy.com/) or on his Pepper & Carrot (https://www.peppercarrot.com/) page where you can view his comic for free. Below an immensely impressive time lapse showing how David Revoy uses Krita to color his comic.
Installation of Krita
Because Krita is a very popular software solution it will be part the software centers in most Linux distribution. So go to the software center and find Krita. It is that simple! But if you want the most recent version of Krita, type the following commands one at a time in the terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa: kritalime / ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install critic
For Linux there are a lot of alternatives available to make digital artists happy, but in my opinion the application Krita is for sure the most extensive, professional and natural feeling application specific aimed at artists who want to work with very convincing natural-looking means, like dry and wet brushes. Krita is in my opinion a good example of what is possible from an open source perspective. It is also very nice to see what talented passionate people can put down together and are willing to offer that for free. So to conclude Krita is the best open source software for digital artists for drawing, painting and illustration. Krita is a top product! But if you have a different opinion or just want to share your opinion, please let me know.