Draw and paint in Linux

Input Devices

Both applications are designed to work with pressure-sensitive graphics tablets. MyPaint in particular suffers without a dedicated input device. If you don't have one, you can try to draw with a mouse, but you will not get very far. This deficiency shows in many of its features, such as Scratchpad, which offers a separate canvas space where you can make sketches, mix colors, and do various auxiliary tasks without cluttering the main canvas.

Krita is far less hardware-dependent. Without a tablet, you can still master comics, animate your artwork, and manipulate images. If Krita had more developed color management tools (e.g., shadows and highlights), a better healing brush, and a decent print preview dialog, it could compete directly with Photoshop.

Making a Decision

Choosing between MyPaint and Krita depends on your individual needs. If you just need a robust mediator between your drawing tablet and Linux, then MyPaint is preferable. While it has fewer brushes than Krita, some artists think MyPaint brushes are better and more true-to-life. MyPaint's purpose is to provide the most authentic drawing experience. With this narrow focus, you can't criticize MyPaint for falling short on things it was not meant to do. Additionally, MyPaint settings are easier to navigate and use. For instance, changing the pen pressure in MyPaint is very intuitive.

Krita offers a complete, end-to-end solution for sketching, painting, and creating graphics from scratch. While MyPaint is superb in simple drawing, Krita also lets you draw comics, textures, animated scenes, retouch photographs, distort and transform any raster images, and apply artistic effects. However, Krita can't fix pale, underexposed, or blurred images, and it does not allow you to print. A decade ago, Krita did support printing, but it was so buggy that the developers decided to remove this feature.

In terms of performance, Krita has greatly evolved in recent years with improved OpenGL acceleration for the canvas, as well as the ability to calculate brush dabs on several CPU cores at one time. However, both contenders have important gaps. MyPaint's infinite canvas isn't that infinite if it consumes your available RAM without notification, and there is no dedicated setting to remedy this. Using large brush sizes in both MyPaint and Krita can slow down your computer. However, since Krita relies on hardware acceleration, your mileage can vary here depending on your hardware, drivers, and OS. Therefore, it is worth testing Krita on Windows, Linux, and macOS for comparison. MyPaint performance is somewhat less affected by your setup: It is fast with smaller sketches and slower with larger ones.

For beginners or artists who just want to draw and paint, I would recommend MyPaint. For more advanced users or anyone who wants to learn something new, Krita offers a versatile all-in-one bundle, which resembles Adobe Photoshop in terms of GUI without its paid subscription or other limitations.

The Author

Alexander Tolstoy is a long-term Linux enthusiast and a tech journalist. He never stops exploring hot new open source picks and loves writing reviews, tutorials, and various tips and tricks. Sometimes he must face the bitter truth thanks to the inhuman fortune | cowsay command that he thoughtlessly installed in ~/.bashrc.

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