Krita as a visualisation tool and GIMP alternative

edited December 2020 in General

TL;DR; go and recommend Krita to those using Photoshop! If they've tried The GIMP and turned back, this may surprise them! This should be one of the links on the wiki for beginning their free software journey, as it's a nice easy win. I'll add it.

I recently checked out Krita after reading about their latest beta release:

I've done a lot of arch viz, both the 3D kind and the 2D image-collage kind. I'm very familiar with the Adobe suite, and also with The GIMP. One tool that I never played with was Krita... until just now.

I must say I'm very impressed. Krita started after the GIMP, and I tried it a little when it first started but my goodness now it's much more mature and gives off quite a polish that The GIMP just doesn't convey (well, to me, personally, at least). For the tools that arch guys need, from my brief foray I just wanted to share that I think it is more than capable and we should definitely be advertising it as an Adobe Photoshop alternative. It's super easy to pick up, whereas The GIMP might be a little unintuitive for Photoshoppers.

The one big feature that Krita has that GIMP doesn't that makes it an instant win and something I'd readily recommend is that it supports filters masks (a.k.a adjustment layers in Photoshop lingo) for non-destructive editing.

Other funky things it has:

  • More fancy selection tools
  • Brushing on modifiers (e.g. blurring, sharpening, light intensity...) - very neat for touching up renders
  • Super cool pen support, which I'd love if I had one :D

All the other usual features you might expect for Archviz work is there:

  • All the basic tools, selection, brushes, clone, heal, "patch", gradients
  • All the blending modes
  • Layers, layer groups, layer masks
  • Filters, like colour tweaks (curves, saturation, etc)
  • GMIC effects (woo!)

Here's a random screenshot. I can't show my commercial archviz unfortunately, so I found some old university renders of highly unrealistic and unbuildable stuff.



  • What's Kritas vector tools like?

  • Krita was primary a vector drawing soft so i bet the toolbox is quite powerfull.

  • Yeah I've always missed adjustment layers in gimp, there is a plugin that does that and there was some talk they should be implemented in Gimp last time I checked, but fine, I'll try krita as well. I always thought it was basically just a nicer and simpler gimp.

  • Gimp's 2 resynthetize saved my ass with power lines removal, something missing in krita.

  • I love Krita and my teenage daughter was able to pick it up quickly and uses it everyday for art. I tried GIMP again recently and was impressed with how much it has improved. Now all we need is for Scribus to get some love.

  • @stephen_l said:
    Krita was primary a vector drawing soft so i bet the toolbox is quite powerfull.

    Right, that's what I remember it as from earlier. So I was surprised @Moult suggests it as a GIMP replacement. I guess that means it must be great at both. I'll have to try it next time ... maybe someone wants to use it to solve this little task:

  • I thought it is an inkscspe alternative, vector kind of software ? Good to learn if there are examples :)

  • @paullee actually it kinda is like a hybrid, but is primarily raster. Here's the page from their docs. Here's the important quote:

    Krita is primarily a raster graphics editing tool, which means that most of the editing changes the values of the pixels on the raster that makes up the image.

    I know I know, I totally had the opposite impression. I was totally wrong! But Krita does have good vector support. It's basically GIMP + Inkscape rolled into one! You'll find all the usual Inkscape tools like stroke, fills colours, stroke patterns, arrowhead markers and so on, as well as the align / distribute tools. However you won't find the advanced SVG stuff like fancy SVG gradients or XML editing or def authoring. However honestly for archviz these tools are more than capable and it's amazing to see it all in one package.

    I see someone wrote in the OSArch wiki that Krita uses SVG. This maybe a little misleading. Krita has its own file format called *.kra. It then lets you create different types of layers in that drawing - some layers are called "paint layers" which store raster, others are called "vector layers" which store vector (then there's group layers, filter layers, clone layers, etc). You can if you want export vector layers as an SVG. Internally, Krita uses the SVG standard to store data, but I think from the perspective of the user, unless they're only using vector layers and exporting those, it's kinda like a hybrid.

    edited December 2020

    Hi everyone, I use Krita a lot for our presentations/archviz.

    The best feature it has, for me, is the wrap mode. It tiles a texture to infinity and you can use the clone brush to make it seamless. This, along with great cage and transformation tools is the fundamental start point for our raster based textures. It's layer blending modes are great and grain extract works greatly, along with blur and desaturate, to remove lighting from textures.

    The other thing I really recommend is 32bit image tone mapping, painting and editing. It allows you to read and write multilayered EXR files and paint your own HDR maps, or remove the sun from them, to use your renderer's physical sun.

    It's truly powerful and it has a new Android version where @Moult can test with a stylus tablet. It seems to be, currently the best photo edition/painting software for Android.

    Finally it has a tool that I never use but think it's very cool, which is the animation creation tool.

    I've been recommending Krita to everyone I can. It's great!

  • @JQL can you please share your expertise by writing what you know on this page?

    Basically anytime someone goes "Huh? What's Krita and can I use it for my arch viz?" Hopefully we can link them to that page and they can read everything they need to know - relevant features to AEC, getting started tutorial links specific to AEC (as much as painting comics is cool, it might make people think that's all it does), feature comparisons, example artwork, etc.

  • Just a note about the wiki, just go for it. Don't get too fussy about formatting and linking and all that - if you need to ignore all that stuff to just get your thoughts down that's fine. The structure is robust and we quickly link relevant pages to each other. So just go for it.

  • @JQL thanks for making an account on the wiki your first edit! Do you have an archviz image that would work well on that page? As @Moult says we need to make clear that it can do a lot more than an image search on the net suggests.

  • I can find some images but I was thinking I could post some tutorials:
    1 - How to create seamless textures based on images with Krita in 5 minutes.
    2 - How to blend render passes/channels from a multilayered EXR file.
    3 - Maybe... How to add a rendered light pass into an already finished render.
    I didn't think on the best way to do it, I didn't find other examples there and I don't have to do it atm.
    It will be on the back of my mind though.

  • edited December 2020

    For those interested in learning Krita, I highly recommend artist David Revoy's web and youtube channel. He has worked as concept artist for Blender's Open Movies and he has developed and shared brushes and tutorials for Krita. Also, he is the creator of Pepper & Carrot, a famous and beautiful open source web comic.

    edited December 2020

    I made the first tutorial. It's text and gifs. It's total size is almost 200Mb though.

    Can I upload all the content to the server?
    Should it be on that page? I don't think it should as that wiki page it's probably an introduction page. It shouldn't become a specific feature page. Maybe there shoud be a new tutorial page and a link on that page for that tutorial on your wiki page. Have you got any tutorial standard page that I can follow?

    Here's a pdf with all the Gif's and image's placeholders.

  • @JQL said:
    I made the first tutorial. It's text and gifs. It's total size is almost 200Mb though.

    Can I upload all the content to the server?
    Should it be on that page? I don't think it should as that wiki page it's probably an introduction page. It shouldn't become a specific feature page. Maybe there shoud be a new tutorial page and a link on that page for that tutorial on your wiki page. Have you got any tutorial standard page that I can follow?

    Here's a pdf with all the Gif's and image's placeholders.

    Wherever it goes, it looks rly great! Smooth Tiling workflow is awesome.

  • @JQL it looks great! Feel free to create a new page on the Wiki with your tutorial. Alternatively if you prefer, if you have your own website, you can publish it there and simply link to it from the wiki.

    You may need upload access rights to the wiki. But you can certainly start by creating a new page with the text and linking to it, and if you let me know your Wiki username I can grant you upload access.

    To create a new page, simply link to it from an existing page, then press the red link which shows up. Alternatively, search for your desired page title in the search bar, and when the results are none, it will prompt you to create a new page.

    edited December 2020

    I will post it to the wiki. My own site is a portfolio. Not really fit for that kind of stuff. If I change my mind and in the future would like to change, I can always go back to this wiki and reproduce it in my site later... right?

    I think my wiki name is JQL too.

    It is JQL.

    The tutorial is online:
    I cannot upload images or gifs, I need permission to do that.
    Maybe we need a Tutorials section. Under workflows?

  • edited December 2020

    @JQL you now have been granted upload access. Have fun! Certainly, any Wiki content is licensed CC-BY-SA so absolutely free to reproduce it on your site! I think checking under maybe the "Workflow Example" category is a good one?

    You've inspired me to write some tutorials too about solar analysis :)

    edited December 2020

    Thanks! I've just posted the gifs and images:

    @Moult said:
    You've inspired me to write some tutorials too about solar analysis :)

    With Ladybug tools?

    That is a tutorial I would really like to see!

    Thank you for your hard work. I will try posting more tutorials in the future if feedback is positive on this one.

  • Maybe the *.kra file format is a useful target for technical drawings with shadows ... ? @Moult @theoryshaw

  • @JQL the tutorial looks fantastic - nice work. I linked it to the krita page. If you want to make several we can make a 'krita documentation' category to link them together. Adding it to the workflow category is also a good idea.

  • Thanks @duncan
    I believe Krita will be a niche topic around these parts, even if it's a great Photoshop alternative. I'm really not a huge expert with it. We use it for our limited use scenarios and it's excellent for those. I could post a couple more Tutorials when I have the time, but they would be based on non OS 3d modelling/rendering software output that is then carried over to Krita. Is that valid here?

  • edited December 2020

    @JQL if you ask my opinion I think a general description of relevant functions and links to documentation from krita themselves would be great. Making lots of tutorials takes a lot of time, but a master class "graphics tools for AEC" by people like you who make competition entries and prepare images for presentations and renderings, you know what tools and functions are important and can hopefully link to and find relevant learning material online.

    We shouldn't really need to create this documentation. Of course where the documentation is missing then articles like the one you made are great. But they take a lot of time.

    As for using Krita in a non free/libre software workflow - that's just the current reality.

  • I understand what you're saying and it makes total sense. However I'm not at all familiar with Krita documentation sobl, even if it takes me more time I think it's easier for me to create the tutorials.

    That's also something that I see myself doing for other OS software that I'd use.

    Doing that in a way that could fit a global workflow purpose, would be better, but I've been thinking that the only OS I use is Krita, Gimp, Inkscape, Blender, ProjectLibre and LibreOffice.

    Apart from Krita and LibreOffice all the rest I use only very little and for very specific functions.

    The whole purpose of being around here is to learn more about what can I do with them. I confess it's been very hard getting to grips with the software around here as I can't be sure where it will lead.

    I felll in love with FreeCAD's sketches though and I will explore it again as soon as I have some more time.

  • @duncan not sure how .kra might help with shadow diagrams.

    @JQL I would love to see more talk about Krita :) I don't think it's niche, I see it as a powerhouse tool ready to be used in production by arch firms.

  • edited December 2020

    @duncan I mean for vector based scale drawings with layers of raster trees, shadows and other graphics. All stored in one file. My impression is that this is something the .kra format is well suited to, I don't know if regular .svg can do that.

    @JQL you should totally contribute whatever you thinks makes sense. I was just talking about an ideal situation. Sounds like a section of the wiki in a category of 'Graphics' is ready to start ... done. See
    So anything you add to that category (write [[Category:Visualization_and_Documentation]] at the bottom of the page) will now be part of that list. Great stuff!

    edited December 2020

    @duncan and @Moult

    Krita is able to mix vectors and graphics and use them as mask for each other. In that sense it's very similar to Affinity (I haven't used Photoshop for long so I cannot tell). It can import pdf files but I think it always rasterizes them. I haven't tried importing SVG files actually, but it might work as a vector import.

    About those trees. We could possibly create brushes that cycles through a lot of 2D trees and randomly colors them, scales them and mirrors them with the dynamic parameters of the brush. If you can do that with trees, you can also do that with many other 2D vector assets you might have, as long as you can convert them to pdf/svg and open them on Krita. That is a nice idea and I might try it when I have some time.

    Where it shines these days, is that you can do that in an Android Tablet too. So Krita might have it's uses also as note taking and quick illustration work on the go and even on site. There are a lot of alternatives for that, though not as many and as visually powerful as Krita and very few, if any that is open source. Even on proprietary software. This kind of work is mostly ipad dominated.

    Krita does shine with a stylus and Android support is really only at the beginning. Architects on the go that have access to a stylus tablet, either windows or android, might already love the idea of having a full blown image editor at hand with incredible reactivity to their stylus and no limitation on workflow, apart for the desktop like UI (which some might even prefer). I might explore it myself and see what possibilities that might open.

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