7 Best Linux Tools for Digital Artists in 2020
Short: Linux has no shortage of graphic design software. In this list we will see the best linux graphic design software.
Let’s talk graphics. Personally, I prefer using an online tool like Canva to easily create stunning graphics for It’s FOSS. But you can’t be online all the time and that’s why you can install software to create charts whenever you want.
There is a lot of Linux graphical applications that help digital artists improve their work or create something interesting from scratch. Well, maybe the apps that exist with Linux aren’t commercially popular, but they offer powerful features to act as a perfect companion for a digital artist.
In this article, we will focus specifically on tools that deal with digital drawing/sketching and image editors.
Best Graphic Design Software for Linux
Now let’s explore 7 of the best Linux tools for digital artists.
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP is one of the best free tools for a digital artist to have installed on Ubuntu or any other Linux distribution.
It is a completely free Linux tool for a digital artist with no level of expertise. It is intended for everyone. Even if you are an expert, you can use it, or if you are a novice, you can use it well. GIMP has a lot to offer than just editing a photo or redesigning it. Several plugins and extensions make GIMP a fortune to have on your system. Moreover, without spending a penny, you can do all the basic design or editing tasks, as well as some of the complex image manipulation tasks.
If you are using Ubuntu, you can find it listed on Ubuntu Software Center. You can install it directly from there and if you are on another Linux distribution you can head to their installation help page for more information.
Yet another awesome Linux tool for digital artists. Krita was designed as a complement with KOfficeGenericName to facilitate image editing within the office suite of tools. However, it turned out to have a lot more potential to be an independent desktop application in competition with programs like GIMP.
To our surprise, it’s still not like GIMP. However, more targeted for use by illustrators, sketch artists and concept artists. It definitely offers a range of features and is constantly expanding as we speak. Also, you could argue that Krita provides a better user interface compared to GIMP.
Recently, it introduced render animation capability, full OSX support, improved color picker, and more. It is also extensible with the use of plugins or extensions. It brings a good collection of filters to choose from and also offers the ability to control the layers in an image just like Adobe Photoshop. It can import a large number of files, but it stopped supporting PSD files.
Functionality and user-friendliness are Krita’s forte. No wonder this French university ditched Adobe Photoshop for Krita.
You can grab the snap from Ubuntu’s Software Center, or you can download an AppImage and make it executable for later installation. For more information, you can try going to the Krita download page.
3. Ink Landscape
It is an open source vector graphics editor. You can install it on your Linux system as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. The user interface offered here might not be very attractive, but it is just very good with the powerful features and tools offered.
It is obviously one of the best Linux tools for digital artists which is actively developed. If you find it easier to work with but prefer Adobe Illustrator, you can easily export your file to Illustrator file format and later import it to Illustrator. You can also export to SVG, SVGZ, LaTeX and POV-Ray. There are extensions that allow you to save files as PDF, EPS, etc.
Inkscape may not be the one if you are a top expert as it lacks some features available on the popular commercial vector graphics editor. However, if you are an artist who prefers a free and easy-to-use tool to an expensive one, you can definitely use it.
You can get it directly from the Ubuntu software center. Either way, if you’re using another Linux distribution, you can try installing it through the terminal by entering the following command:
sudo apt install inkscape
An open source vector drawing program. Karbon is also recognized as Karbon 14, Kontour and KIllustrator. It allows you to edit and create vector designs. It is one of the most suitable Linux tools for digital artists who deal with vector graphics. It includes gradient tool, path shape tool, pencil tool, calligraphy tool, etc.
It supports shapes as well as texts. You can import SVG images and edit them with great ease. Karbon provides an excellent customizable user interface. Moreover, it offers an advanced path editing tool. Also, it is expandable for a variety of uses using plugins compatible with it.
You can install it directly from the Ubuntu software center. In either case, you can type the following command in the terminal to install it:
sudo apt install karbon
5. Vectr (not open source)
Like the two graphics tools above in the list and as the name suggests, Vectr is a tool for vector graphics. It is slightly different from the usual desktop software.
You can also use Vectr in your web browser. It also has the real-time collaboration feature. You can provide the URL of your design and others can watch you modify an image in real time.
The user interface is another plus point. The modern UI and aesthetics certainly set the mood for creative designs. It also has a set of documentation for new users to get started creating vector designs.
The desktop app is available for Linux, Windows, and MacOS. It is not open source software, however, you can download it for free.
Like all other image editing software utilities, Pinta has come out of nowhere to become one of the favorite Linux tools for digital artists. It is an open source software utility that brings lots of features.
If you used Paint.Net software before, it’s much the same. In other words, you can keep it as an alternative to Paint.Net for Linux/Ubuntu. You will find a variety of drawing tools which include – brush, freehand drawing tool, pencil, shapes, etc. It is not only an ordinary painting tool, but also brings support for you to control the layers of an image. Additionally, you have the option to add expansions for experimental abilities.
Moreover, it offers many filters and effects (motion blur, red-eye removal, glow, distortion) to help improve the image. You can easily adjust the toolbar to the required position (either as a floating window or as a docked toolbar). It incorporates a docking-style setting function, with which you can configure various pads to dock or disconnect depending on your work style. It supports file formats like OpenRaster and others.
7. My Painting
Yet another open source Linux tool for digital artists. MyPaint focuses on sketch drawing. If you have a touch screen, you will be able to make the most of it. The user interface is quite simple and easy to use.
It is definitely a worthy alternative to MS Paint on Linux with some advanced features. It brings base layer support and unlimited canvas. You don’t need to resize the canvas again (or modify it). You have plenty of brush options that you can try out on a notepad attached to the dock.
If you are an artist, you can digitally create anything using this tool. I would even call it the best linux drawing software.
If you want to install it, you can find it on the Ubuntu software center. Either way, you can install it using the commands mentioned below:
sudo apt install mypaint
Finally, you’ve discovered some of the best Linux tools for digital artists. Of course, the list we compiled contained only the popular choices loved by almost anyone using Linux/Ubuntu.
In fact, there are tons of tools for digital artists, but most of them are for Windows and macOS. Finding something that is available on Linux natively is a difficult task.
I deliberately didn’t consider some tools here due to its limited users (only people who need it – really targeted category of digital artists), or it’s just plain outdated. Some of the honorable mentions would be Radiance, Lux Renderer, Dia, and Wings 3D.
Other than that, did we miss any of your favorite Linux tools suitable for digital artists? Also, if you are a digital artist, which of the above would be willing to choose as the best for your use?