Sunday, 26 April 2015

Software review - Krita - First look

Krita is a full function digital painting program with a loyal fanbase and more importantly, a price tag that can't be's free.

I can't help looking at what other painting apps have to offer. There's always the quest to find the perfect set-up with that magic tool that will transform my lousy sketches into something magical. Obviously no program can do this, but it is interesting to see how different painting programs are to one another.

My current set-up involves sketching on Manga Studio Pro - then proceeding to using MSP brushes for more expressive line work, or transferring the sketch into Illustrator for more precise inking. I'll also use Photoshop for various things. Those three are my trinity of killer drawing programs.

I also have Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, which is a wonderful program and it is criminal how little I use it. I promise to dust down the covers and make sure I sketch with it more in future. In the past I have dabbled with demo versions of Artrage and the mighty Corel Painter too, but I didn't really take to either of those with much love. Both are awesome and powerful but neither compelled me to spend money buying.

Krita, being free, was worth a try.

Very First Doodle
Krita was simple to load and install. But it takes a long time to open once installed - probably 30-40 seconds. I didn't time it, but the holding page just hangs there on your screen while is cranks itself into life.

I hate reading User Guides so I didn't make any effort to read where all the things are in Krita. As soon as the application opens, you are presented with the huge brushes selection palette and a layers palette. It's tidy and just what I like to have on my canvas board.

This write-up is just a brief first impressions report. The big plus with Krita is that it is free and it offers so many incredible brushes - from paint brushes to pencils, pens, markers, sponges, chalk etc etc, the list is endless. All aree customisable too I think. Everything is fairly intuitive and I did not need to consult any user guides or forums, well not for the basic stuff. You just open and draw.

But it has big drawbacks. I already mentioned it is really slow to load up. Slower than any of my Adobe or other paint programs. It also freezes. On one art piece (which I will present in a later blog post) I used around 5 layers over an A3 size canvas and it really struggled to keep up with sketch strokes. It didn't crash thankfully, but it did threaten to at one point. I just went away, made a cup of tea and when I came back, it had resumed normal function.

Anyway, the authentic appearance of the many paint and drawing tools are a huge plus. See the tiger head I quickly drew here:

The big flash of fire is an airbrush effect tool that I took a shine to called FX_explode . I also like the alpha functionality - ie even if you draw and paint on another layer, it will assume you don't want to draw over or under art lines above or below it. You can turn this function off. I don't think it works perfectly but it's handy. I had fun too with the sponge brush, dabbing white clouds onto the blue sky on the tiger drawing above.

One niggling thing when switching tools is that you need to make sure you have pressed the 'brush' icon on the main tool bar before using your various brushes and pens. Sometimes I used say, the eye dropper tool and then just clicked on the airbrush icon but it didn't work because I didn't first of all press the main brush button. It's an annoying extra step that I don't think should be there, especially when you switch tools a lot, it wastes time.

If you want to knock out Painter quality artworks but can't justify the price, then Krita is a damn good alternative. In my next blog piece, I use Krita much more extensively. In the meantime, check out the Krita gallery to see some impressive examples of what good digital artists can create with it.


1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, the brushes!
    These, along with drawing assistants and guides are my favourite :) And the new release loads faster, I think.
    I also laid down Krita's more intriguing features in a short article (, in hope that more people will get to know it.
    My guess is, they won't be disappointed with this app.