Brief: Linux has no dearth of graphic design software. In this list, we’ll see the best Linux graphic design software.
Let’s talk graphics. Personally, I prefer using an online tool like Canva for easily creating stunning graphics for It’s FOSS. But you cannot be online all the time and this is why you can install software to create graphics whenever you want.
There are plenty of Linux graphic applications which help digital artists enhance their work or build something interesting from scratch. Well, maybe, the applications that do exist with Linux are not commercially popular, but they do offer powerful features to act as a perfect companion for a digital artist.
In this article, we would be specifically concentrating our focus on the tools that deal with digital drawings/sketches and image editors.
Best Graphic Design Software for Linux
Now, let us move on to check out 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 distributions.
It is a completely free Linux tool for a digital artist irrelevant to the level of expertise. It is meant for everyone. Even if you are an expert, you can make use of it, or if you are a novice, you can utilize 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 one’s system. Moreover, without spending a penny, you get to do all the basic designing or editing stuff and some of the complex image manipulation tasks as well.
If you are running on Ubuntu, you can find it listed on Ubuntu Software Center. You can directly install it from there and if you are on a different Linux distribution, you can head to their installation help page for further information.
Yet another impressive Linux tool for digital artists. Krita was meant as an add-on with KOffice to facilitate image editing within the suite of office tools. However, it turned out to have a lot more potential to be an independent desktop application competing with programs like GIMP.
To our surprise, it still is not like GIMP. However, more focused for use by illustrators, cartoonists, and concept drawing artists. It definitely offers a range of features and is constantly developing as we talk. Also, you could argue that Krita provides a better user interface compared to GIMP.
Recently, it introduced render animation capability, full support for OSX, enhanced color picker and more. It is similarly extensible with the use of plugins or extensions. It brings in a good collection of filters to choose from and also provides the ability to control layers in an image just like Adobe Photoshop. It can import a lot of files, but it has discontinued support for PSD files.
Features and usability are the strong point of Krita. No wonder this French university dumped Adobe Photoshop for Krita.
You can grab the snap from Ubuntu’s software center, or you could download an AppImage and make it executable to install further. For more info, you can try heading to Krita’s download page.
It is an open source vector graphics editor. You can have it installed on your Linux system as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. The user interface offered here may not be much of attraction, but it is simply darn good with the powerful features and tools offered.
It is obviously one of the best Linux tools for digital artists around that are actively developed. If you find it easier to work with but still you prefer Adobe Illustrator, then you can easily export your file in Illustrator file format and import it on Illustrator later. You can export to SVG format, SVGZ, LaTeX, and POV-Ray file format as well. There are extensions which let you save files as PDFs, EPS, and so on.
Inkscape may not be the one if you are a leading expert because it lacks certain features available on popular commercial vector graphics editor. However, if you are an artist who prefers a free and an easy-to-use tool over an expensive one, you can definitely make use of it.
You can get this directly from Ubuntu Software Center. In either case, if you are running a different 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 lets you edit and create vector drawings. It is one of the most suitable Linux tools for digital artists who deal with vector graphics. It does include gradient tool, path shape tool, pencil tool, calligraphy tool, and so on.
It brings in support for shapes as well as texts. You can import SVG images and edit it with great ease. Karbon provides a great user interface which is customizable. In addition, it offers advanced path editing tool. Also, it is extensible for a variety of use by utilizing the plugins compatible with it.
You can directly install it from Ubuntu’s Software center. In either case, you can type in the following command in the terminal to install it:
sudo apt install karbon
5. Vectr (not open source)
Like the above two graphic tools in the list and as the name indicates, Vectr is a tool for vector graphics. It is slightly different than the regular desktop software.
You can use Vectr in your web browser as well. It also has the real time collaboration feature. You can provide the URL of your design and others can watch you editing an image in real time.
The user interface is another plus point. The modern UI and aesthetic looks certainly sets the mood for creative designs. It also has a set of documentation for new users to get started with creating vector design.
The desktop app is available for Linux, Windows and MacOS. It is not an open source software, however, you can download it for free.
Just like any other image editing software utilities, Pinta came out of nowhere to become one of the favorite Linux tools for digital artists. It is an open source software utility that brings in a lot of features.
If you previously used Paint.Net software, it is pretty 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 that include – paintbrush, freehand drawing tool, pencil, shapes, and so on. It is not just an ordinary paint tool but also brings in support to let you control the layers of an image. Also, you get the ability to add extensions for experimental abilities.
In addition, it offers a lot of filters and effects (motion blur, red-eye removal, glow, warp) to help enhance 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 dock-style adjustment feature, with which you can configure various pads to dock or undock according to your work style. It does come with support for file formats such as OpenRaster and others.
Yet another open source Linux tool for digital artists. MyPaint focuses on drawing sketches. If you have a touchscreen enabled display, you will be able to make the most out 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 in a basic layer support and unlimited canvas. You do not have to resize the canvas again (or tweak it). You get extensive brush options which you can try on a scratch pad attached to the dock.
If you are an artist, you can digitally make anything out of something 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. In either case, you can install it using the commands mentioned below:
sudo apt install mypaint
Finally, you came to know about some of the best Linux tools for digital artists. Of course, the list we compiled contained only the popular and loved choices for almost everyone using Linux/Ubuntu.
In reality, there are tons of tools for digital artists out there but most of them are for Windows and macOS. Finding something that is available on Linux natively is a challenging task.
I have deliberately not considered some tools here because of its limited users (only people with the need for that – really focused category of digital artists), or it is just out of date. Some of the honorable mentions would be Radiance, Lux Renderer, Dia, and Wings 3D.
Apart from that, did we miss any of your favorite Linux tools tailored for digital artists? Also, if you are a digital artist, which one of the above would be willing to choose as the best for your use?