Trying Out Krita

2020-06-24 10:55PM

On a whim, I decided to try out Krita, a free (as in freedom) painting program. I had tried it out briefly a while back, maybe a year or two ago, and found it fine, but I didn't really get into it for some reason. So, I kept working with Clipstudio Paint.

Today, I gave Krita another try and this is the result:

a girl in a cozy jacket and a turtle neck enjoying a winter morning

I was really inspired by the paintings in the interview with Albert Weand on the Krita blog. Check out the paintings; they are beautiful and showed me the kind of artwork one can make with Krita.

The interface should be fairly familiar if you're an illustrator used to working with ClipStudio Paint and Photoshop. I love the watercolor brushes and used them nearly out of the box with no modifications. Most exciting to me is the thoughtful experimental features that the community is working on.

One example is the blended color picker feature. Here is a quick example:

Essentially, the color picker will pick a blend between your current selected color and the color under the tool. You can tweak the blend amount so that you can get more or less of the target color.

Check out Emmet O'Neill's YouTube Video giving a very thorough and better demonstration of the feature. He is one of the developers of this feature.

Another example is the simple shade selector which gives you a set of choices of possible shading options around the currently selected color.

Example of Krita's Simple Shade Selector

The sphere on the left is shaded by simply moving around the color palette. The sphere on the right is shaded using options from the shade selector. I put arrows so you can see where I selected the colors for the parts of the sphere.

I haven't been able to find thorough documentation on the idea behind it but, from experimentation and some old blog posts I see it as a way to keep your currently selected color available while presenting possible shading options based on human perception along differnt gradients. (Colour Selectors Once More, HSI and HSY for Krita’s advanced colour selector. )

One of the first things I did when I started painting digitally was use the select darker and lighter colors along the color selector, but this quickly leads to muddy looking paintings.

Eventually, you learn that you need to change to a different color range and select different hues and values for the shaded area and for the highlight area. Then you have to make sure you come back to the base color so you navigate correctly around the color space.

With Krita's simple shade selector you are, instead, provided with some good shade choices without having to hunt around the color wheel or the color space. And, then when you choose one of those shade colors, the original color stays available in the middle of the gradient. It doesn't always provide an appropriate choice; for example, you might need to take into account the color of the light or the bounce light in the shade.

Later this month I'll try to make a line-art comic and see how its inking, line smoothness, and detail compares to Clip Studio. Follow me on twitter to find out when I publish another post.