Linux Apps Tools

Best Painting Software for Linux

Best Paint Software for Linux
Written by Martins D. Okoi

Digital painting involves using traditional painting techniques such as impasto, oils, watercolor, etc. to create paintings in a computer. Professional digital artists usually employ certain accessories for creating art such as tablets, stylus, touch screen monitors, etc.

Although Wikipedia describes digital painting as an emerging form of art, a quick browse through platforms like Instagram and Dripple will have you thinking you are generations behind. But not to worry. You can create beautiful digital paintings right from your Linux desktop and below is my list of the best Linux software for that.

1. Krita

Krita is a free and open source professional painting program for beginner, intermediate, and expert creators. Its feature highlights include an intuitive, non-intrusive UI, a customizable palette for brushes and colors, stabilizers for working with brushes, 9 unique engines for brush customization, a resource manager for managing imports & exports, etc.

The Krita project aim is to make all the tools necessary for creating beautiful, top-class artwork available to everyone whether they are illustrators, texture and matte painters, or creators of comics and concept art. It is available on Linux, Mac, and Windows with several tutorials that you can get up and running with.

Krita Painting Tool

Krita Painting Tool

Install Krita on Ubuntu and its derivatives such as Linux Mint, Elementary OS, etc. using the official PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kritalime/ppa
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install krita

For other Linux distributions, you can download Krita AppImage and run it directly without installing it.

2. Inkscape

Inkscape is a free and open source professional drawing application for artists used for creating and manipulating Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) on GNU/Linux, Mac, and Windows.

It boasts a beautiful, theamable, configurable User Interface and tons of features such as a powerful text tool, extensive compatibility for file formats, flexible drawing tools, node editing, bezier and spiro curves, etc.

Inkscape has a ton of online tutorials and learning materials that you can use as well as a large online community that you can learn from when you need help or collaboration along the way.

Inkscape Vector Graphics Software

Inkscape Vector Graphics Software

Install Inkscape on Ubuntu and its derivatives such as Linux Mint, Elementary OS, etc. using the official PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:inkscape.dev/stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt install inkscape

For other Linux distributions, you can go to download page and follow the instructions to install it.

3. GIMP

GIMP is a free, open source, and cross-platform image editing software for creating and editing digital art. While it is mostly paraded as a Photoshop alternative with the undertone of only editing photos, GIMP can be used to create graphic designs, illustrations, drawings, and paintings.

Apart from the simple, easy-to-use UI, GIMP provides users with tools for the non-destructive retouching of images, creating original artwork from scratch, working with graphical design elements, mockups, and UI components, and extending its capabilities with plugins and scripts made available by its community.

Gimp Photoshop Alternative for Linux

Gimp Photoshop Alternative for Linux

Gimp ships in the official package repository of your Linux distribution and it is the recommended way of installing.

$ sudo apt install gimp  [On Debian/Ubuntu]
$ sudo yum install gimp  [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install gimp  [On Fedora]

4. MyPaint

MyPaint is a free and open source cross-platform raster graphics app created with a focus on digital painting than image manipulation or post-processing. The initiative started as a simple painting program with a brush editor and a simple canvas.

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Fast forward to today and it is a full-fledged painting app for creating professional artwork even being compared to proprietary apps such as Corel Painter.

MyPaint boasts a simple, clutter-free interface with inviting features like a configurable brush tool, distraction-free mode, support for Wacom graphics tablets, brush stroke intensity, etc.

MyPaint Raster Graphics Editor

MyPaint Raster Graphics Editor

MyPaint is included in the official package repository of your Linux distribution and can be installed using package manager.

$ sudo apt install mypaint  [On Debian/Ubuntu]
$ sudo yum install mypaint  [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install mypaint  [On Fedora]

5. Pinta

Pinta is a free, open source, and cross-platform software for drawing and editing bitmap images. The project’s goal is to enable users to draw and manipulate images on any desktop platform as easily as possible.

Although with fewer features, its UI is reminiscent of Photoshop coupled with other digital creation features such as multiple layers, workspaces, 35+ effects and adjustments for tweaking images, full history, and easy-to-use drawing tools e.g. ellipses, rectangles, freehand, etc.

Pinta - Drawing and Image Editor

Pinta – Drawing and Image Editor

Install Pinta on Ubuntu and its derivatives such as Linux Mint, Elementary OS, etc. using the official PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pinta-maintainers/pinta-stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install pinta 

For other Linux distributions, you can go to download page and follow the instructions to install it.

6. Karbon

Karbon is a free application for creating digital art such as logos, illustrations, photorealistic vector images, and clip art.

It features a simple UI with the typical image editing app layout alongside document templates, writing support for PNG, PDF, WMF, ODG, SVG, loading support for aforementioned plus EPS/PS, advanced path editing tools, facilities for guided drawing end editing such as snapping to grid, line/path extensions, path shape extensions, etc.

Karbon is completely customizable especially with plugins for new tools, dockers, and shapes which you can write yourself. It is open source with comprehensive online documentation.

Karbon - Vector Drawing Software

Karbon – Vector Drawing Software

Karbon is included in the official package repository of your Linux distribution and can be installed using package manager.

$ sudo apt install karbon  [On Debian/Ubuntu]
$ sudo yum install karbon  [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install karbon  [On Fedora]

7. GPaint

GPaint (GNU Paint) is a free and open source easy-to-use painting application developed for the GNOME Desktop Environment. It is usually referred to as the Windows Paint for Linux like GIMP is thought of as the open source Photoshop.

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GPaint’s features include drawing tools such as freehand, polygons, ovals, texts, image processing options like in xpaint, color palettes, support for gnome-print, and a simple UI.

Gpaint - Simple Paint Software

Gpaint – Simple Paint Software

GPaint is included in the official package repository of your Linux distribution and can be installed using package manager.

$ sudo apt install gpaint  [On Debian/Ubuntu]
$ sudo yum install gpaint  [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install gpaint  [On Fedora]

8. LazPaint

LazPaint is a free, open source, and lightweight image editor for creating digital art using layers and transparency with support for OpenRaster which enables it to interoperate with GIMP, Krita, and MyPaint.

It features a simple UI with useful drawing tools and effects for working with layers, a command line interface for working from the console, editing parts of images with antialiasing, and support for various file formats including 3D files and layered bitmaps.

LazPaint - Image Editor with Layers

LazPaint – Image Editor with Layers

LazPaint is only available to install from the binary packages on Ubuntu and its derivates from the download page.

9. Skencil

Skencil is a free and open source Python-based interactive drawing application for creating vector art such as diagrams, illustrations, and logos to name a few.

Its features include Bezier curves, rectangles, and ellipses which can also be used as guides, blend groups, text and image transformation, support for all types of images that the Python Imaging Library can read, editing Illustrator and EPS files, etc.

Skencil – Vector Drawing Appliction

For installation, go to download page and follow the instructions to install it.

10. TuxPaint

TuxPaint is a free and open source award-winning, cross-platform raster graphics drawing app mainly aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 12.

It is used in several schools all over the world to teach children how to draw and paint as a computer literacy drawing activity. Its UI is designed to be simple enough for children to use and it features a variety of tools and “magic” buttons to enable children to be more creative. E.g. lines, text, blur, flip, mirror, etc.

TuxPaint - Art Software for Children

TuxPaint – Art Software for Children

TuxPaint is included in the official package repository of your Linux distribution and can be installed using package manager.

$ sudo apt install tuxpaint  [On Debian/Ubuntu]
$ sudo yum install tuxpaint  [On CentOS/RHEL]
$ sudo dnf install tuxpaint  [On Fedora]

Notable Mentions

  • CinePaint – an online tool for photo manipulation mainly used for motion picture editing, render repair, dirt removal, background plates, etc. A feature highlight is its smooth handling of formats like Kodak Cineon and SMPTE DPX.

That brings us to the end of this list. I’m guessing I must have mentioned your favorite pick already, But if I haven’t feel free to add your own suggestions and to even share your digital painting experience with us in the comments section below.

In case you haven’t, check out my article on the Best Photoshop Alternative Apps for Linux.

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About the author

Martins D. Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and programmer.