Can I Use...?

These days those who are new to digital art have quite a few options when it comes to their chosen discipline. Almost every major "professional" software package has a free (or at least cheaper) alternative that is typically "90%" as capable as the popular expensive brand.

The question will always be are you ok with that? Do you absolutely need that extra 10% the professional packages offer? Are you looking to go into a field professionally? Do you care if you cut your teeth on the so called "industry standard" or do you think a strong understanding of the concepts of an artform are more important than the technical steps involved?

These are all questions that you'll have to answer on your own. In the opinion of this author the phrase "industry standard" seems to have been invented as a publicity term to help secure a products place in the market but there are certainly cases where it's not. It would be a lie to say some employers will not even consider you for a position if the "right" programs are not listed on your resume. Again, it's up to you.

With that in mind here are some of the leading free / cheaper alternatives to the more popular software packages around and what you'll need to know if you're already familiar with the leading software and want to transition to the alternative.

Photoshop to Krita

"Krita" is a digital painting and drawing program that is also suitable for photo editing. It's free, open source, and available for most major operating systems.

Looking to use Krita after you've already learned Adobe Photoshop? Here's a primer on what is and is not the same, or what might be the same but is referred to by a different name.

This page was last checked against version 3.1.2.

Adobe Photoshop Krita Shortcut Location
Adjust window pane position The interface in Krita can be adjusted just as in Photoshop but instead of grabbing the tab itself (such as the tab labeled "Layers" in the layer pane) you need to grab the actual group name. For instance by default the "Layers" tab will have a foldable group named "Layers" with lock icon to the left of the name directly under the tab. This is where you click and drag to reposition elements.    
Adjustments Layers Most of the filters found in the "Filter" menu can be used as either a permanent change or added as an adjustment layers. When you select a filter you will see both "Ok" and "Create Filter Mask" in the filter options dialogue. Selecting "Ok" will make a permanent change. Selecting "Create Filter Mask" will add the effect in a non-destructive way. You can see the filter effects for a layer listed under that layer in the "Layers" tab.   Main Menu
Brush Shortcuts

Changing the brush size in Krita is as simple as holding down the <span class="command">Shift</span> key while dragging the cursor left or right with the left mouse button (middle will allow you to rotate the canvas). <span class="command">Control</span> will change the cursor to the eyedropper tool. The right-click menu will allow you to choose different kinds of brushes.

There appears to be no quick way to change brush hardness (currently the "Edit Brush Settings" at the top of the screen seems to be fastest).

Keyboard Shortcuts Shortcuts are configurable and are found under "<span class="command">Settings > Configure Krita...</span>".   Main Menu
Liquid Filter While the "Transform" tool is selected browse to the "Tool Options" and select the "Liquify" option (the water droplet icon). Unlike Photoshop you can edit the image directly on the canvas without going to another window (there is no option for masking, grid view, or saving the changes for later use). CTRL-T Tool OptionsTab
Smart Objects Krita has no good similar replacement at this time.    
Vector Tools Vector tools are similar but are not chosen as vectors, paths, or pixel tools from the tool specific options. If you use one of the shape tools on a vector layer it will be made as a vector shape, if you use a shape tool on a raster layers it will create raster shapes. When editing paths directly using the "Path Editing" tool you can change the properties of individual points via the "Tool Options" tab. Major features such as line width and fill color are also chosen from the "Tool Options" tab while the "Shape Manipulation" tool is active.   Tool OptionsTab
Vector shape interaction ? There appears to be no options at this time.    
Window Panels Instead of "Windows" Krita refers to individual panes as "Dockers" which can be found under "<span class="command">Settings > Dockers</span>". They are toggled on and off in the same way.   Main Menu

Autodesk to Blender


FL Studio to LMMS