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Your handy guide to getting started with Krita

Follow these tips and be well on your way to mastering digital painting using this well known raster graphics editor

Krita is quite a versatile open source raster graphics editor. It is packed with a plethora powerful features that make it especially suitable for digital painting. The best part is that Krita can be downloaded for free from krita.org. So without further let’s get started!

Select an image size and colour scheme, to begin with

Use any brush as eraser

Krita offers a plethora of brush presets. These brushes not only come handy for painting but also for erasing. This can be done by changing the brush mode to an eraser. Select the brush tool > Choose brush preset (located at the top in the preferences bar). Once the brush is selected, click on “Set eraser mode”. This will change the brush mode to an eraser.

Get quick access to brush and the colour palette

Searching for brush presets can be time-consuming. To deal with such situations, Krita provides a neat feature that gives you access to your recently used brushes and colours. Just right-click on your canvas and you’ll see a brush and colour palette. You can see all your recently used colours to use.

Click on the arrow button to get quick access to the brush preferences

Create a list of your favourite brushes

The pop-up palette is handy. However, you may not find your favourite set of brush in it. You can create one by going to the Brush Presets > Tag > name your tag > Enter. Now go back to “All” brushes list, right-click on the brush you want to add to your list then Assign to tag > choose your tag.

The Tag button is located at the top-right corner

Change your brush size

Going all the way to the brush preferences and doing it is painful. Instead of all this, you can just hold the Shift key and drag the mouse.

Play with layers

Krita offers special layers for painting, drawing shapes, filter, etc. Depending on your need you may add a new layer by clicking on the “arrow button” located next to the “+” button at the bottom of the Layers docker. Then select the layer as per your need and it will be added to the stack.


Make any brush into a clone tool

As there’s no separate clone tool in Krita, you can use any brush as a clone tool. To do this, Select the brush tool > Edit brush settings > Clone > Set the size. To select the clone point on the canvas, hold the Ctrl key and click on the area that you want to clone, and leave the Ctrl key.

Quickly see the mirror view of your canvas

Instead of flipping the image horizontally and then reverting back, you can just hit the “M” key on your keyboard and you’ll see the mirror image of the canvas.

Avoid erasing the canvas

If you are coming from Photoshop and trying to erase something in the first layer, it’ll show you the checkered background instead of white. This happens because, unlike Photoshop, the first layer is not Alpha locked by default. To avoid this, you must change the background while creating a new canvas. To do this, hit Ctrl + N > New > Content > Select “As canvas color” under Background > Create.

Choose between As first layer or As canvas colour

Add tools to your workspace with dockers

Dockers are the small windows that appear to the right of your canvas. These dockers come handy to do any task. While you are presented with Layers, Brush Palette, and Advanced Color Selector by default, these are not the only dockers available. You can add other dockers to get other tools handy. Go to Settings > Dockers and select the docker you want. Additionally, there’s also an option to hide all the dockers. Go to Settings > Uncheck “Show Dockers”.

Get full-screen view

To enter the fullscreen view, hit the “Tab” key on your keyboard. To go back to the normal mode, press the “Tab” key again.

Test your brush

To get the perfect brush for your requirement you need to test different combinations of brush settings. Usually, artists do this on the main canvas and undo the testing strokes. To deal with this, Krita has provided a dedicated area to test your brush. You can find it on the right side in the Edit brush settings palette.

The area on the right is the brush tester

Enable auto-save functionality on Windows

Krita autosaves your work in case of crashes. However, sometimes the autosave browser doesn’t open on Windows. In such situations, you need to manually find the autosave file and open it. To do this, go to Windows Explorer and type %TEMP% in the address bar. This will show you all the temporary files on your system. Look for autosave.kra files, open them one by one and save as the one that you want.

Quickly save different versions of the same canvas

If you want to do version control, the traditional way is to Save as different name. Instead of this, Krita has an option to automatically save your current canvas by marking the new file with a versioning number added to it. Go to File > Save Incremental Version.

Animate with Krita

Not restricting to be just a static graphics editor, Krita goes beyond to offer animation capabilities as well. Although animation with Krita is not easy, you can get total control by trying out few simple techniques. To animate with Krita, press Ctrl + N > New > Animation > Animation-Japanese-En > Use this template.


Add filters to your canvas

If you are coming from Photoshop you will not find this feature any different. Just like Photoshop, Krita allows you to add filters to your canvas. To do it, select the layer of the object you want to apply the filter on, navigate to Filter and choose the appropriate one.

This article was first published in May 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.

Varad Choudhari

Varad Choudhari