The 10 Best Linux Apps for Digital Artists

Linux continues to be in demand, given its open source nature, ease of use, and diverse applications and packages. Add a healthy mix of digital art tools to this list and you already have a fantastic operating system to work on.

The coveted tools mentioned below promise to provide highly functional and powerful graphic design utilities for digital artists.

Check out these 10 authentic tools tailor-made for digital artists and creatives.

The GNU image manipulation program is top rated and has been a favorite among digital artists who use Linux. It doubles as a versatile framework for C, C++, Python, or Perl-based image manipulations.

The software commands a proactive support community that has contributed numerous scripts and plugins to extend GIMP’s repertoire of graphic design features.

GIMP’s photo manipulation capabilities are comparable to those of Adobe’s most popular premium Windows alternatives.

GIMP is ideal for streamlined workflows that feature other open source graphics applications like Inkscape and Scribus. Users can even install plugins and extensions, similar to Photoshop.

To download: Gimp

Related: How to Install and Use GIMP on Ubuntu

Inkscape app interface
Image credit: Wikipedia/Wikipedia

Inkscape is an end-to-end Linux tool for digital artists working on various graphic projects. It can create logos, digital sketches, clipart and cartoons; the tool is rather useful for creating infographic elements such as diagrams and flowcharts.


As a full-fledged vector graphics tool, Inkscape gives artists the freedom to create and render high-resolution graphics. Without the pixel rendering limitations of raster graphics, Inkscape can successfully create graphic content suitable for SVG, EPS, PDF, and PNG formats.

Inkscape has extensive documentation and free tutorials available from experts on the web. Rest assured, even if you’re new to it, you can still learn how to create and manipulate objects, fill and stroke textured color layers, and fill designs with advanced shaping tools.

To download:Inkscape

Krita app interface
Image credit: Wikipedia/Wikipedia

Krita impressed users on Linux, Windows, and macOS. The tool pushes the boundaries as digital illustration software with its intuitive user interface. Users can use the brush engine to create and edit custom brushes.

Krita comes ready to use with an extensive library of brushes for seamless, enveloping textures and patterns. Artists can count on the novel brush stabilizer function to calibrate the brush to counter hand shake.

Modify workflows to your liking by moving dockers and panels to your liking. To extend Krita’s functions, use its docker function so that you as a user can benefit from Krita’s large community, which collects feedback on regular software releases.

To download:Krita

Tuxpaint app interface
Image credit: Wikipedia/Wikipedia

Tux Paint is an open source drawing tool specially designed for pre-teen users. Tux Paint has a learning curve that is easily intelligible to its target demographic.

It’s handy for introducing children to digital art without confusing them with the technical complexities of graphic design tools used at professional levels.

The award-winning software, Tux Paint, is regularly adopted by art tutorials in schools and specialized institutions as a free digital art utility. The highly interactive app has fascinating features such as audio triggers and mascots to encourage and entertain children.

To download: Painting Tux

Blender app interface

Blender has been impressing 2D/3D animators on all platforms for quite some time now. The feature-rich and rich 2D/3D animation software is maintained under a GNU GPL license.

It contains an innovative toolset for highly textured designs including PBR shaders and HDR lighting, advanced modeling, rigging, sculpting, and CPU+GPU-assisted VR rendering support.

Blender is widely used as a basic tool for 2D/3D animation for video games, live cartoons and XR. Consistent support from heavy hitters like AMD, Apple, Intel and NVIDIA makes it a reliable tool for still and motion graphics designers.

To download: Blender

Related: How to Animate in Blender: Blender Animation Tutorials for Beginners

digiKam app interface

digiKam is an open source image editing software used for single and batch processing image collections. Its specialty lies in its RAW image-oriented utilities. digiKam is widely adopted for on-the-fly image editing, which primarily includes social media posting.

digiKam handles XMP metadata pretty well. Users of open source Linux systems can use it to compose workflows, directly import images, edit/tag/tag them by metadata, and share them on online platforms.

digiKam’s additional support for FFmpeg and QtAV libraries allows users to work with video files. The digital editing tool is often used by computer-based digital artists.

To download: digiKam

As its name suggests, Vectr is a graphic design tool available on Linux for processing vector graphics.

Vectr uses AI-powered utilities that help professionals save time on projects. It concerns cross-platforms between the desktop and the web. Moreover, the tool even allows for image scaling without compromising clarity.

Vectr has an easily overcome learning curve that can turn anyone into a vector graphics expert. As an open-source Linux tool for digital artists, the software offers an unparalleled collaborative design experience.

Its real-time collaboration features are useful in multiple use cases, such as tutorials and team exercises. The added chat functionality makes collaborations interactive and fun.

To download: Vector

libvips is a nifty image processing library that can selectively process image sequences from memory. Streaming images into small selective regions saves memory for other processes. It supports a wide range of digital formats as well as some of the most popular image formats.

It finds heavy use in streamlined workflows involving GraphicsMagick. libvips comes with over 300 image processing operations such as coloring, frequency filtering, resampling, statistics, morphological operations, arithmetic, and histogram operations.

libvips continues to be one of the few tile-free, lock-free, multi-threaded libraries available to image processing experts.

To download: libvips

skencil digital artists
Image credit: Wikipedia/Wikipedia

Skencil is a lightweight vector graphics design software with standardized digital art utilities. The user interface is reminiscent of Microsoft Paint but just as efficient and versatile in the areas of vector design, just like Photoshop.

Along with these boilerplate features, users can expect Python scripting plugins and add-ons that allow them to import unconventional file formats.

Skencil does not disappoint digital artists on Linux as its extension plugins allow importing new graphic objects for complex designs and exporting unconventional file formats.

The digital tool is commonly used to draft designs for fabric printing on EPS files.

To download: Skeleton

KolourPaint app interface
Image credit: Wikipedia/Wikipedia

KolourPaint is a great graphics tool for digital artists working on Linux. This digital painting software supports various geometric shapes and design aids that make it easy to draw even with a mouse.

KolourPaint’s powerful effects, utilities, and coloring tools make it another versatile, open-source alternative to MS Paint.

KolourPaint provides minor photo manipulation functionality and icon editing support for clipart and logos, making it a lightweight solution for professional graphic designers on Linux systems.

KolorPaint recently released its latest version, 21.12.0. Its source code is updated and maintained by KDE and promoted through community support.

To download: ColourPaint

There are many wonderful digital tools available for Linux users. Each of these digital tools is unique in its own way and offers a plethora of options for people looking to unleash their creative potential on a digital canvas.

If you’re aiming to unleash your creativity, rest assured, you’ll fall in love with each of the options listed above.

Adobe alternatives for Linux users
The 8 Best Alternatives to Adobe Products Running on Linux

Can’t find a way to run Adobe software on Linux? Do not worry. You can install these eight open source alternatives to Adobe products on your system.

Read more

About the Author

Marilyn M. Davis