Krita: The Best Art Program You've Never Heard Of
No, I didn’t draw that - it is Krita’s mascot!
Krita is a free open source software designed specifically for digital painters, illustrators, and concept artists. It has the usual photo editing capabilities like cropping and image adjustments, but really excels with its painting and art workflow.
I originally heard about this application through the Blender 3D community. While reading an article about Blender’s Sintel project, it mentioned that the concept artists would use Krita to do all of their pre-production and concept art. I was intrigued.
As I slowly began reading about Krita and all of the functionality it can do, I was really getting excited. There are some really nice features that it can do that programs like Photoshop can’t. Krita can do a lot more than this, but here are some of the distinguishing features that I think really set it apart (besides being free).
Krita actually has a line tool similar to Corel Painter’s. It is really easy to make lots of straight lines. Not impressed yet!!?
Draw points on your canvas and a perspective grid appears. Grab the corners to arrange. Grabbing the middle sections creates another perspective grid (like shown below). Sweet!
Easy Access for Color Picker and Brushes
Really easy to come up with new colors and change brushes. It is great having these right on the screen when you are deciding on what color to use. The swatches on the left saves your history of what you last selected.
A tool you can spend hours just playing around with. It has a lot of options too. I have never seen a program that can do this.
None of that low opacity blending stuff, Actual blender brushes that mix colors together in different ways.
Brush Creation Engine
It does so much, it is kind of intimidating. Still figuring how how everything works with this. Everything under the sun is configurable. There is even a nice space to the right where you can test your new brushes out.
Any operation that is common in drawing in painting has great shortcuts. Things like resizing the brush can just be done by holding down shift and moving your tablet pen left or right. The “e’ key toggles between eraser and brush. Context clicking also brings up a nice color picker and favorited brushes.
Easy to Pick up for Photoshop users
If you know Photoshop, the UI paradigms Krita uses are very similar. I felt very comfortable using Krita after only 30 minutes - which can’t be said about other programs like GIMP. A program I still have a difficult time getting use to.
I always love doing something productive while I am learning something. It makes it feels less like work. here is a art noveau-ish image I conjured up using nothing but Krita! I really abused the kaleidoscope tool, but it was fun.
Room for Improvement
After spending quite a bit of time learning Krita. The the main things that I thought that need to be addressed is the following:
1. Each new image opens in a new instance of Krita. It would be easier to have something like tabs inside of the same instance. if you have a scrap area you are using for other things like reference images or custom brushes. It seems like a lot of excise to have multiple UIs just for opening an extra image.
2. Why does the opacity for the layer have a value, but nothing indicating what it does? it was a “aha” moment for me when I changed it for the first time. It really needs “Opacity” to the left of it for it to be more intuitive. It isn’t an icon.
3. Maybe i need to get use to the image resizing, but it seems much more complicated than I am use to. I felt I kept resizing the wrong way because I didn’t know which option to pick (Properties, Size Canvas, Size Canvas to Size of Current Layer, Scale to New Size). What do I pick to resize? Hint: Scale to New Size is probably what you want.
The few quarrels I have pale in comparison to how great this program is. Once you figure out a few minor usability things, the program is amazing. This IS my digital painting and illustration app now when using my desktop. They have a smaller version called Gemini, but I haven’t used that yet.
I mostly keep this blog to help me remember things. Writing is also a great way to understand things at a deeper level. I would highly recommend it if you don't write at all.