What is Krita, and what makes it different?
Krita is an open source digital art software that is available free of charge for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It utilizes many key features that hobby-grade and professional-grade digital artists, illustrators, and animators might want or need in their workflow and is updated on a very consistent basis. We will cover the installation of the Windows version, along with notes about installing the Linux and macOS versions, later in this chapter.
Krita on Mobile?
While there is currently an Android mobile version of Krita in beta, I am not listing "mobile" as a platform, as it is not officially released. However, feel free to download the mobile beta and poke around if you have a device that is capable! You can find up-to-date information about the status of any and all mobile versions of Krita from the official Krita website (Krita.org).
Krita, as we know it, came to be in 2002. However, some interesting history traces the beginnings of the Krita project all the way back to 1998! Krita has been going strong ever since, and in 2012, the Krita Foundation was formed by the collective Krita community to ensure the longevity and success of Krita going into the future. The goal of Krita is to be the go-to software for digital artists from all walks of life, and regular donations and fundraisers aided by the Krita Foundation ensure that can be the case.
Whether you are just starting your digital art journey or are a tenured veteran in your respective art industry, you understand there is a ton of digital art software to choose from when it comes to digital painting and illustration. Krita is different in quite a few ways, but I would put one feature above all the others: it has been created by creators, for creators.
The Krita Artist Community
Krita has another fantastic feature, and that's the overall art community it has nurtured over the years. Various artists, at all levels (from absolute beginners to decades-long seasoned art professionals), are available for guidance, advice, and sharing creations! You can check out the Krita Artist community by navigating to https://krita-artists.org. See you there!
While Photoshop will always be considered an "industry standard" in the digital art realm, first and foremost, it started off as strictly a way to edit photographs. Creating digital art in Photoshop was almost a "happy accident" that resulted from features being added to Photoshop over the years, as opposed to being built from the ground up for digital painting and art. On the other hand, Krita has stayed true to its initial goal of being a heavy-hitting digital artist suite, by bringing in tools heavily used in Photoshop and adapting them to a more matter-of-fact way for visual painters and illustrators to use. These subtle changes range from filters, to the way perspective rulers work, to slight tweaks of the color wheel and natural brush engines to mimic the feel of traditional painting on a canvas. We will be covering all of these features (and many more!) throughout this book to create our projects. So, you will see the depth and breadth of possibilities that Krita can provide for yourself.
The biggest "difference" Krita provides upfront is the low barrier of entry: it is free! The only real thing Krita requires is the time to download and install it, and you are using the same software as some of your favorite professional artists at no charge. While I love the fact that Krita does not cost anything to download and use, I highly recommend donating to the Krita Foundation if and when you can, as our ongoing support as the Krita community can ensure the software stays as fresh as possible, for as many people as possible. Digital creativity should be available for everybody, and I believe we can act as ambassadors to make that a reality!
Another fantastic feature that we will cover, which makes Krita different, is its nature as an open source piece of software. So, what does open source mean in this case? Well, the full code base (programmed in Python) is available to look at, modify, create extensions for, and customize to your liking. The full-time Krita development team is less than ten people, with multiple volunteers committing changes, edits, and updates regularly, and each new release brings about fantastic changes because of this hybrid team's hard work. The UI is fully drag and drop, allowing you to set up your workflow in any way that feels comfortable for your creativity. I am friends with quite a few other Krita artists, and let me just tell you: not one of our UIs looks the same! That sort of flexibility is very hard to come by in the digital art and software industry. However, Krita's open source nature makes it one of the most inviting, customizable tools that you can use in your digital artistic journey.
Custom interfaces, life-like brushes, awesome tools, and regular updates, all for free? You bet! Let's finally get to the installation of Krita. Then, we will discuss some basic things that you will see the first time you load the program.