Know the Basics: Krita Part 1: Interface and Software Introduction

Welcome to the first of three tutorials for getting to know the basics of Krita. In this tutorial I will get you familiar with the workspace, show you how to control it, and teach you how to use some of the default tools that come with Krita.

Step 1. Default Workspace

When you start working with Krita the first thing you need to know is that there are a lot of ways in which you can customize your workspace. On the very top you have traditional drop-down menus such as "File", "Edit", "View" and so on, that allow you to access many options and filters as well as settings. Below the drop-down menus there is a strip consisting of two toolbars called "File" and "Brushes and Stuff". On both sides of your working area you will find dockers which contain tools, layers, brush presets, color selectors and more.

Step 2. Dockers

Dockers can be moved around and placed at the top, bottom or either of the sides of your workspace, locked in place or float freely. They can also be turned off separately or all together, and turned back on from the "Settings" drop-down menu (Settings > Show dockers or Settings > Dockers). You can create different workspaces and then save them in the "Choose Workspace" drop-down menu on the "Brushes and Stuff" toolbar at the top right.

Step 3. Starting a new file

Starting a new file is easy. All you need to do is either click on the first icon in the top toolbar or choose "New" from the "File" drop-down menu. You will then be presented with a window where you will be able to specify what kind of file you want. You can choose from predefined sizes or define your own. You may also decide on your color model, profile and content of your new file: color of background and number of layers. Having chosen your settings all you need to do is click "Create".

Step 4. Toolbox

Toolbox is one of the most important dockers in Krita. It comprises all the tools that you may need to work in the program: manipulation, drawing, fill, select tools and so on.

Step 5. Tool Options

This docker is just as important as the "Toolbox" docker as it works alongside it. In many graphic programs when you select a tool, and tool options appear in the top bar by default as logically you can't use a tool without being able to control its settings. In Krita those options are placed on a separate docker. It may create some confusion at first as theoretically this docker could be turned off, therefore obstructing use of all the tools (especially if a new user is unaware of it's existence) but it is at the same time very handy as you can choose where you want this docker to be.

Step 6. Default Brushes and Settings

Krita provides many default brushes that you can use "straight out of the box". The variety is quite impressive. You can access all of them from "Brush Presets" docker. Here you can also assign tags to brushes and access those tags separately so that you have your favourite brushes under control and/or in one place. The most basic Brush settings such as "Opacity", "Size" and "Flow" are situated in the top "Brushes and Stuff" menu. If you are missing one of them go to Settings > Configure Toolbars in the top drop-down menu, and in the "Brushes and Stuff" section move "Brush option slider 3" from the left to the right column. In this section you can generally decide what you want to show on your top toolbar and what you want to hide from it.

Step 7. Eraser

Krita provides 5 different preset erasers but any of your brushes can become an eraser. It's an easier way of getting rid of unwanted brushstrokes and it saves time. While using a brush tool click "E" and the brush will automatically become an eraser with the same characteristics (opacity, size, flow, shape and so on) as the brush. To go back click "E" again. This way you can easily toggle between brush and eraser mode.

Step 8. Shortcuts

There are many predefined shortcuts in Krita but all of these can be modified (or new ones can be created) in the Keyboard Shortcuts section (Settings > Configure Krita > Keyboard Shortcuts from drop-down menu). Depending on how you like to work you can assign shortcuts to tools or actions. The ones that I find most useful however are the ones that help me operate the brushes and control the position of canvas.

To zoom in and zoom out press and hold Ctrl+Space and drag your pen up or down on your tablet (the pen action can be replaced by pressing and holding the left mouse button). To move around the canvas press and hold "space" and use the pen to pan to the desired location on the canvas. To change the brush size dynamically press and hold Shift and drag the pen from left to right (to enlarge) or right to left (to decrease the size). Another very useful shortcut is Space+Shift. Press and hold these two together and drag the pen in a rotating motion. This will rotate the canvas in a smooth way. You can also use "4" or "6" to rotate the canvas by 15 degrees at a time. If you'd like to go back to the default position press "5".

Step 9. Layers

Layers can be found on a separate docker and there are many ways to control them. They can be turned off and on. You can change their opacity or mode from a drop-down menu in the docker (normal/multiply/soft light and so on.). You may also lock layers for editing, lock alpha or make them inherit the alpha of the layer below. There are also many types of layers to choose from: painting layer, vector, filter and so in; and masks: transparency, filter, transform and others.

Step 10. Saving files

While you work Krita creates back up files (even for unsaved new files) that you can access in case of any potential malfunction (if for example the program closes unexpectedly). However it's a good habit to save regularly. To save a file click on the "save" icon in the top toolbox menu or go to File > Save or Save As. You can also use Ctrl+S or Ctrl+Alt+S shortcuts on the keyboard. Krita lets you save your files to many of the most popular file formats, and also uses its own Krita .kra file extension.

Related links

Download Krita for free
Check out Kate Oleska's awesome work

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