Krita development from outside - how does it look like?

I am going to write a post about how Krita development is organized and how it is possible that it’s free, but as good as it is. Is there an unique business model behind it or what? I’d like to dispel some myths. I thought I know what they can be since I was in your position not so long ago, seeing “Krita Core Team” as this legendary being responsible for all the goods we receive in form of an art program, plus I do user support and some of the myths manifest there as well. But I decided that maybe asking you directly would be even better. (Still, I guess most people here are already at least mildly passionate about Krita or use it a lot, unless came here for support, so it might not be all that representative. But it’s better than blind guessing :wink: )

So, what do you think, how Krita’s development is organized? Is there a company behind it? How many developers Krita has? Are they paid developers or volunteers? Why Krita is free? How do you think it all works together, what is your general view or thoughts?

I’d like to know the view of newcommers, so if you learned the answer(s) recently, it’s fine if you say what you thought before, although of course your current point of view is welcome as well :slight_smile:


I sadly think a lot of people think that Krita isn’t that great because it’s free. So I think that it is an important point to expand upon. In my experience that is the biggest myth out there regarding Krita.

I remember asking a friend of mine why he prefered to start learning Clip (which he got for free) instead of Krita. This was out of curiosity since both programs are great, but for his use case Krita seemed to fit it perfectly! His response was that it felt wrong not to use Clip, since it usually cost money.

If a program costs money, people automatically assume that it must be better. More expensive = better program.
People also don’t find it that important to spend the time learning the program. Since it didn’t cost them money, giving up on learning it isn’t a loss for them.

When I show people what Krita can do, they are very suprised that a free program can have such an amazing collection of features.

Many years ago I felt the same, I didn’t give Krita the chance it deserved, since I had this prestigious expensive program called Photoshop. It was half a year ago I actually tried Krita for real, and was mindblown from how amazing Krita was!

I saw the same thing with Blender. People usually gets pretty mindblown when shown what Blender can do, since people don’t expect free programs to be as good as expensive ones! Now that Blender 2.80+ is out, (an update making it much more user friendly with a UI that looks a lot more professional), people have finally started to slowly shift their view on it for the better.

But it still baffles me how much less people expect from free programs.

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I always thought Krita was developed by hobbyists on their spare time or part-time. I don’t know if there’s a Krita HQ, but I doupt it, because when something is free, it probably won’t have any burecracy behind it. And Krita’s free because it branched out from GIMP and that from Linux which is all about being open source.
And I agree what @Rakurri said about the perception the public has about free software. But I don’t think that’s the problem, but that Krita doesn’t seem to have much buzz around it. Why?
Krita has no clout. Easy way would to do some viral marketing or something. Or just more reviews on Youtube by content creators. If some superknown pro would say “Yeah I use Krita”, SO MANY PEOPLE would start to use it.
But pretty much everyone uses Photoshop, mainly because that’s the most well-known painting software, so people are willing to pay the pretty horrid subscription, but you get other Adobe software too. Majority don’t buy Photoshop tho, but pirate it, especially in the second- and third world countries. so even more people use it. They learn it and they won’t bother learning any other program.
Then we have Corel Painter that has clout due to the quality of it, but is locked behind a ridiculous paywall so there’s that.
So I would imagine if Krita is recommended more around circles of artists, someone is gonna bring it to the industry and then it becomes mainstream.

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Alright, I’ll give my takes! I’ve used Krita for all my art needs, but I consider myself new with regard to how Krita is actually built. My only experience with the code is building some small things for organizing stuff that I’m too lazy to do myself everytime.

How is Krita development organized?

  • I’m not too sure? I know that development versions come out that we can download and that around every month or so an official release comes out. I imagine there are sprints involved? I don’t know who leads development or if there are subsections of developers.
  • I know that there’s a bug tracker and website for submitting reports, but every time I’ve tried to interact with it, it seems to throw obstacles my way, which made me figure that it wasn’t made for me to be on.

Is there a company behind it?

  • KDE, I think? I would bet there’s a foundation or something specifically for Krita. I know there was a grant from Epic recently, so i’m thinking that there would have to be a company to accept it, right?

How many developers does Krita have?

  • I have no clue. I would guess maybe 10 or fewer regular devs. I image there are a few regular volunteers too

Are they paid developers or volunteers?

  • I think some are paid and some are volunteers. I don’t know who is who though.

Why is Krita free?

  • If you mean free as in cost, I think it’s because the audience for Krita is made to be widely available and not only to the group of people who are already dead-set in existing proprietary software. I think there is a little bit of stigma regarding free software as being low quality, but I don’t agree with that. I think that making your software free is a way to signal that your software is built with non-professionals in mind – which is something I appreciate as a hobbyst.
  • If you mean free as in open source, then I would imagine that it’s either because it’s already free of cost, or because of commitment to the idea of open source.

How do you think it all works together?

  • I imagine that most of the coding work is done by a core team of people. There are a few people who do outreach, support, and videos (and I would guess that some of them are on coding duty too).
  • I’m not really sure about how the general user base would contribute to the project, outside of the forum or asking for support. I know there are bug reporting features, but I had difficulty using it.

What is my general view or thoughts?

  • Overall, I think the product speaks for itself. Krita works great and I appreciate the most recent updates (especially with animation!). I’d say that the organization is good if this is the kind of product that comes from it.
  • I would say that there are definitely more people like me who use Krita and would like to help contribute to it, but that it seems like such a large and already developed project that we don’t really know where our help would be needed (assuming that it was) or where we should look.
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@Rakurri yeah definitely! That’s one of the misconceptions I want to fight with :slight_smile: I remember when I told my friend I want to try digital painting and I know this program called Krita and it’s free and he said that it’s better to buy Photoshop, because bad tools will hurt me in the long run and it’s the same with guitars, when you try to learn playing a guitar on a cheap, bad guitar, you’re gonna give up quickly. He had no idea about digital art and Krita and I already checked Krita myself, so I fortunately knew he was wrong :wink: Although for art programs I’ve heard also “just start with Paint” argument and… well… for me it would be best to start out either with Krita or with Medibang since it’s simpler, but still powerful enough.

And regarding Krita and being free, I think it’s because people don’t realize how much good you can get for free. There are amazing communities with amazing stories, often fanfics but not only, when they’re all free. There are other things that are hard to get for free, for example performance - you need either a performance enthusiast (someone who’d do that for the pleasure of doing that) or just a paid developer, because most volunteers would prefer coding features for themselves, right?

Yes, it’s even worse for bugs and crashes… one crash and the software is terrible, one crash in PS and “oh well, it can happen, fortunately it’s not very often! I just should not do this and this” :wink:

So I should start from saying “Krita is awesome, please take a look”? I kind of thought about Krita users being the target audience. But I might start from a few hidden tricks and little features that amazed me instantly :wink:


You’re not wrong about that! :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, looks like there is no one here in Krita that would be passionate about marketing… There is @emmetpdx who does amazing job on Steam, both putting the latest version on Steam but also answering negative reviews and propagating the idea that it’s community-driven. I’ve read some of his responses when the desktop version of Krita arrived on Steam a year ago or so and every one of them was genius. But that’s only Steam.

@malle-yeno Thank you so much for such a detailed response <3

It’s not really for ideological reasons (or that users shouldn’t be posting stuff there) but because KDE, which Krita belongs to and which infrastructure it uses, for now uses bugzilla and an old, ugly one, and we cannot really do anything about it. Bugzilla is and will be ugly and confusing :wink: Someone could make a tutorial how to use it though (specifically for Krita and for this version of Bugzilla, since I believe there are more general tutorials out there).

Also third world countried, children, schools and other instances of people without too much money to pay for non-pirated software :wink: Just fair chances for everyone.

Well, providing user support is great way to contriute :wink: If you found a bug and have an issue reporting it, just make a post in Advice & Support subforum and state it clearly so someone can just report it for you. And probably already triage it, which means checking if a bug can be reproduced (repeated) on another machine using the same steps etc., if the bug report is valid, if it isn’t a user mistake etc. Btw., bug triaging is a great way to help, too! But it needs a bit of patience towards bugzilla, at least at the beginning.

I think I’ll write down all different ways to help out in the blog post then :slight_smile: Especially since not a lot of people know how to help when one is not a programmer.


Thanks for your reply! It’s nice to know that our comments are considered :grinning:

I definitely feel this. I started out with Krita and got the chance to try out photoshop. One of the first things I noticed was that I didn’t have multiple layers to start a new document and I couldn’t find the option to fix that (Like in Krita, where the number of starting layers is in the New Document menu). I asked my PS friend about how to change it, and she responded “I don’t think you can, but you can press this button down here to just add in a new layer every time you open a new document.” Like, I know how to add new layers, I just want one less thing to have to do when starting up a new project. Didn’t really speak volumes about the relationship between software and user :stuck_out_tongue:

Would you like users to be more active in marketing Krita? Would that look like more active engagement with non-users, or more promotional material (videos, etc.)?

Aah, I figured. I think I’d be down for a tutorial. But maybe a link to somewhere in the help menu might help new users with bug reporting too. Especially if it’s acceptable for potential bugs to be put here as well.

Definitely will look forward to this! ^^

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They tried to make a KDE version of GIMP in the beginning, but it is not branched out of GIMP :slight_smile:

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I have heard that the new version of bugzilla is somewhat more polished in the UI area, So I hope we get the updated bugzilla soon.

The original name, which is still the name of the mailing list, was kphotoshop :slight_smile:

More precisely, kimageshop :slight_smile: And later Krayon. Krita means “chalk, crayon” in Sweden I believe. :slight_smile:

Argh, I wrote that name from memory. That’ll teach me to write without looking stuff up >_<

Seems KDE art tools go through a lot of names, Karbon had a few too :slight_smile:

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Yeah it was Kimageshop as @tiar said :slight_smile: but it is not based on GIMP code or branched from it.