Monday, June 2, 2014

Some notes from Krita Sprint 2014

Krita people in Deventer:
Sven, Lukas, Timothee and Steven
Almost two weeks have passed since we returned from the sprint, but we are now only beginning to sort out and formalize all the data and notes we did during the meeting. The point is, this time (as well as during the last sprint in 2011) we had three painters with us who gave us immeasurable amount of input about how they use Krita and what can be improved. This is the case when criticizing and complaining was exactly what we needed :)

So after having general discussions about Krita's roadmap on Saturday [0], we devoted Sunday on listening to painters. Wolthera, Steven and Timothée gave us short sessions during which they were painting their favorite characters and we could look at it and notice all the usecases and small inconveniences they face when working with Krita. The final list of our findings became rather long :), but it will surely have immense impact on our future. We saw not only wishes and bugs, we also had several revelations, the things which we could not even imagine before. Here is a brief list of them.

Tablet-only workflow

Yeah, not all the painters have a keyboard! ;) Sometimes a painter can use a tablet with built-in digitizer for painting. In such a case the workflow completely changes!
Two tool bars is too few! More floating toolbars!
  1. The painter may decide to reassigns the two stylus buttons to pan and zoom gestures since he has no access to a usual Spacebar shortcut.
  2. The toolbars! Yes, the toolbars are the precious space where the painter will put all the actions he needs. And there should be many configurable toolbars. The problem we have now is that there can be only one toolbar of a specific type and every action belongs to its own toolbar. The user should be able to create many general-case toolbars and put/group actions however he likes. I'm not sure this is possible to implement within current KDE framework, but we must investigate into it!
  3. Even when using a tablet some painters cheat a bit and use gaming keypads to access most needed actions, like pop-up palette, color picker and others. Steven came to Deventer with his Razer Nostromo device, and it seems he is quite convenient with it.
Razer Nostromo. Not for gaming :)


Though it might sound funny, but some of Krita features really surprised me! I never knew we could use old-good tools this way.
  1. Experiment Brush. Have you ever thought that this brush might be an ideal tool for creation of shadows on a comic-look pictures? Well, it is ;)
  2. Group Layers + Inherit Alpha layer option. I could never imagine that Inherit Alpha feature can be combined with the Group Layers! If you use Inherit Alpha withing a group, then it'll use only the colors of this group! This can be used for filling/inking the parts of the final image. Just move it into a separate group, activate Inherit Alpha and you can easily fill/outline your part of the image!
  3. Color Picker. This is a trivial tool of course. But if you assign it to the second stylus' button, it becomes an efficient tool for mixing color right on the canvas! Paint, pick and mix colors as if you use a real-world brush.
Well, there were many other issues we found during the sessions. There were also some bugs, but the severity of those was really minor. Especially in comparison to the sessions we did in 2011, when David Revoy had to restart Krita several times due to crashes and problems... We did really much progress since Krita 2.4!

Yeah, it was a really nice and efficient sprint! Thanks Boudewijn and Irina for hosting the whole team in their house and KDE e.V. for making all this possible!

[0] - see Boud's report about it

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