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The 8 Best Artistic Tools For Linux Users

Just switched to Linux and in need of some good artistic tools? If so, we’ve got the list for you. Follow along and learn all about some of the best artistic tools for Linux!

Note: all of the programs on this list are free of charge, open source and have support on most Linux distributions.

1. Krita

Krita is an open source, multi-platform sketch/paint application. One of the main draws to this application, and why many on Linux gravitate to it is its slick interface, a multitude of features, and a fully customizable shortcut system.

Notable Features:

  • The intuitive user interface makes finding everything very easy.
  • Brush stabilization feature eases artists with shaky hands, allowing for better-looking brush strokes.
  • A pop-up palette for quick and easy brush swapping and color picking.
  • Allows users to customize their brush strokes with the “Brush Engine” feature.
  • “Wraparound mode” in Krita allows for easy, seamless creation of textures and patterns.
  • Built-in resource tool that lets any Krita user import custom brush settings from other artists. The resource manager also allows Krita users to export and share their own brush settings online.
  • Included “drawing aid” tool helps artists create straighter lines, and other things that are notoriously difficult to draw.

2. Inkscape

Inkscape is an open source vector application that has comparable features to tools like Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and others.

The application is well known for its great SVG vector features and cross-platform nature which allows artists to get work done on any operating system, from Linux to Mac, to Windows.

Notable features:

  • Supports many different types of drawing styles (Pencil, Painting, etc).
  • Shape tools allow for making good looking illustrations without relying solely on freehand skills.
  • Works with the latest open source SVG vector features, including file generation.
  • Full anti-aliasing support while editing images.
  • Support for alpha transparencies while editing PNG images.
  • Bitmap tracing (for both color and monochrome paths)
  • Multi-line text
  • Image node editing.

3. KolourPaint

KolourPaint is a simple painting tool for the KDE desktop environment. It’s not as complex as Krita but is favored by beginner artists and hobbyists not looking for a complex art program.

Notable Features:

  • Has shape drawing tools to aid artists who dislike drawing everything freehand.
  • Curve/line tools for creating good-looking curve lines, as well as straight lines.
  • Basic color picker.
  • Support for different, basic styles of painting (Pencil, brush, and airbrush).
  • Text input tool allows users to add words to their artwork.

4. MyPaint

MyPaint is a cross-platform painting application that focuses on minimizing distractions by having users do everything in a full-screen setup.

The application is great for those in need of a distraction-free painting environment on Linux.

Notable Features:

  • Heavy focus on painting, rather than image editing, or graphic design.
  • Has an excellent set of brushes to choose from.
  • Integrates well with 3rd-party applications.
  • The tool is highly customizable, and users are encouraged to make MyPaint their own.
  • Full-screen painting environment allows for distraction-free work.
  • Excellent color wheel.
  • Easy layer management system.
  • Canvas size can be as large (or as small) as the artists want, with no limit.

5. GIMP

GIMP (AKA the GNU Image Manipulation Program): the quintessential free Photoshop replacement, offers a competitive, free graphics design environment.

The application is cross-platform and is known for offering a comparable set of features found in commercial graphics tools.

Notable features:

  • An extensive third-party plugin system allows users to customize and tweak GIMP in their own way.
  • Supports reading/writing Photoshop project files.
  • Highly customizable interface.
  • Many photo plugins and filters allow users to make their photographs and digital images look their best.
  • Support for different hardware, including dials, drawing tablets, etc.
  • Can read virtually every image format, including TIFF, JPEG, XWD, XPM, GIF, PNG, PSD, TGA, BMP, etc.
  • Automatic photo enhancement feature can quickly touch up and improve any photo.
  • Easy to understand white-balance tool makes updating lighting in photographs simple.
  • Smart cropping tool allows for easy photo re-sizing.
  • Has mostly comparable features to Adobe Photoshop. While not perfect, it’ll get graphic designers out of a tough spot.

6. GPaint

A simple drawing and painting tool meant for Linux and BSD users, Gpaint offers a comparable, MS-Paint like experience. The tool is not for professionals and is for users looking to create quick art.

Notable Features:

  • Has basic shape drawing tools like ovals, polygons and freehand.
  • Can print artwork via Gnome-print.
  • Modern, slick interface that is easy to understand.
  • Aside from drawing, GPaint can edit images and do basic things like add text, crop, etc.

7. Karbon

Karbon is an SVG/Vector manipulation tool. It’s part of the Calligra application suite on the KDE desktop environment and is comparable to Inkscape, with equivalent features.

Notable Features:

  • Read and write support for various types of image/vector file types, like ODG, SVG, WPG, WMF, EPS, and PS.
  • The customizable user interface makes Karbon easy to feel at home in.
  • Layer dock allows for robust control over images with multiple layers.
  • Gradient/pattern tools for creating unique styles inside images.
  • Has grid and snapping tools for better drawing.
  • Text writing, with support for putting text along paths in projects.
  • Extensible, via third-party plugin support.

8. Blender

Blender is an open-source 3D animation tool. It is mainly for creating models, working with textures and other types of 3-dimensional artistic projects.

Even though Blender is a free tool, it is widely used by industry professionals in the visual effects fields. Game designers and 3D animation artists also speak highly of this tool.

Suffice it to say, if you’re on Linux and need to create 3D art, this is the only tool you’ll need.

Notable Features:

  • Excellent rendering thanks to the “Cycles” production path tracing tool.
  • Fantastic support for sculpting and shaping 3-dimensional models.
  • Blender is made for 3D animation and has dozens of animation features and tools for experienced animation artists to check out.
  • Built-in video special effects tools, complete with camera effects and motion tracking to make your animations look great.
  • Has a video editor to allow visual effects artists the ability to work on animations without the need to open an external video tool.

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