Why people dont switch to Open source alternatives for creative works

If you’re an artist and your workflow consists of free and open source software, you may already know how rich and efficient it is to work with these tools. Krita, GIMP, Inkscape is getting enhanced every day, and they are helping many people to get their job done without costing much or nothing.

But it isn’t only costs that makes open source software like Krita a better choice for creative people and companies but there are hundreds plus other reasons.

These programs (Krita, Inkscape, GIMP and many others) are growing faster with the help of strong FOSS companies like KDE and a broad community consisting of thousands of developers, testers and maintainers. Krita is among those great tools that enables an artist to create masterpiece without constantly fearing about recurring payments, non-focused / invasive workflow, forcing to be inside a closed software ecosystem.

So why don’t people just start using Krita, or switch to it? There are many people switching to it but not many. Let me give you broader information. I live in a country where Adobe, Corel products are not directly available. Yet still people crack proprietary products and use them drawing stick figures and memes. And there are many independent artists, personals and learners who still pays 100s of dollar to proprietary software companies in order to do their jobs.

I have asked many of these people and dived in to gather some key points. Let’s check them out.

1. People fear change.

Many people don’t want to set sail toward new island because they don’t know what can come up next and smash them off. They stick with their own lane even if it is bad and costs many things. They fear the change. “What if I get lost in the new environment, what if this, and what if that, what if this, and they stick to whatever they are going with.”

2. People are lazy.

Some people just don’t want to move their butt. They pay to fix problems that are nonsensical, or just doable by themselves with little effort. They are dependent and lazy to do the work of switching to a whole new software. “Its too much work” and they just roll their mouse wheel. They learn one specific program and depends on it. They don’t think they are the one who creates the art, not the software.

3. Stuck in the ecosystem.

Some companies offer close integration and closes their users to their own ecosystem where you become dependent and moving to a new software becomes hard task. One workflow may link to several others enclosed applications. Thus making it really hard to move.

4. People are in illusion.

They think using a big branded products makes them good artists and professionals. They think “Industry standard” is a true thing, and they day-dream about being at top by using top branded software, they think privacy is not an issue, monopolization is not a thing, and they are certainly not being victimized.
Many of them points out features even they don’t often use or doesn’t need, and not worth the money they are paying. Some features sound big but don’t result big change.

5. There is not strong marketing for free software.

Many people don’t know about Krita and other FOSS services at all. They believe what shown on the TV, the ads, their favorite people use, what they have been taught in school. And many schools / training centers only teaches their students specific software, sometime they even discourage people to use software other than what they teach. They say its “Industry Standard” and all these things, although I don’t believe in such word. There is no standard. Different companies may use different software, even use in-house software.

So, these are the things I found. But again, there is no fault using the software you like.“Like” is a personal term here. You choose a software, you think its nice personally and use it. But please use free software. Because its made for you, the people. It’s free. Even if it costs, it won’t cost your privacy, control and freedom while you create something meaningful for yourself or for the world.


Hi @imahbub,

your post is nice, but there is small correction, KDE is not a company and Krita doesn’t have thousands of developers working for it :slight_smile: .

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HI :smile: thanks for pointing out. I actually meant developers of many open source creative software altogether :smiley:. And seems like I can’t correct it :frowning: editing isn’t allowed.

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click on the three dots below the post and see if you have the pencil icon to edit.


You have some valid points but I think there is one important one missing and that is hardware support.

I use Linux for about 11 or 12 Years now, for painting I use it since Krita 2.7 came out (before that I tried all kinds of programms on windows). I can tell you that getting your tablet working on Linux wasn’t always that easy. On XFCE you still have to fiddle around with x-set-wacom in the terminal. I wrote my own scripts and programs to make things like binding the hardware buttons of the tablet work. Now I use KDE with plasma which has a nice GUI for calibrating and stuff, but I recently got a Cintiq that has no hardware buttons to calibrate the screen (brightnes and such), guess what I have to do next. People don’t want that anymore. They don’t want to work in config files like its 1987 to get their hardware and peripherals working (don’t ask me about my sound card). When people think of OOS they still think of terminals and ugly or kunky interfaces (and this is still true in some cases) and that’s a huge problem (it’s the reason why I never could get friends with gimp).
I know many artists who would like to switch to OOS and rather spend the saved money for better hardware. But the same hardware has usually bad or no support on Linux systems or even on windows with OSS. Ultimately they transfer this to OSS in general and keep away from software they think is unpolished, ugly, buggy has lacking support for their devices.

So basically they want to plug in their special hardware (and there is enough available for creative tasks) and it has to work or they leave it entirely. A thing that I can totally understand.

The OSS world made huge steps in terms of driver support and usability but they are still far behind. This is a lot thanks to corporations that see Linux as a third class citizens and OSS as something you can’t earn money with.


I agree with you in that case. But I hope for a change soon. Hardware vendors are starting to push drivers and supports for Linux and soon we may see changes. Many tablets from Huion, XP Pen, Wacom, Microsoft and Yiynova works well with Krita. I agree that buying new hardware in order to get it work for a specific software is not a handy task. Hardware vendors should do something in this case.

Hi @imahbub ! :grinning: I agree with most points you made but I think one is missing.

I think that historically Open-Source software were not really user-oriented as much as function-oriented (performance and feature over documentation, tutorials and GUI). At equivalent performance, someone will choose the software the easiest to use and even if this less and less the case anymore I think that still plays in the favor of the change resistance point.

I think one such example is Blender. Blender 2.7 was extremely performant but suffered a notoriously overcrowded and complex interface. One of the goal of Blender 2.8 was to redo the GUI to make it user-friendly and reworking workflows with simplicity in mind.
Now peoples and studios start to test or even switch to blender and financing is pouring in!

I think that this trend is changing though with more and more Open-Source software showing better usability which could help Open-Source software reach a broader audience.


Driver support gets better fast, thanks to the internet of things, but unfortunately not in the desktop area. The OSS community has done amazing things in terms of driver support and would happily write own drivers if just the hardware manufactures would give out their specs and APIs for the community to do so.

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This. Another reason usability in OSS was poor is the mentality of the developers. I still know devs that unironically say that a program doesn’t need a GUI and good programs only need a terminal, and the laugh about me when I mention the ten usability heuristics. This mentality was even more common 20 years ago (I was one of them before doing it professionally), especially in the OSS world were many devs came from different Linuxes which at the time often were not more than a command line terminal. Perhaps some of the old guys dieing out and young blood (that wants beautiful things) replacing them is a reason GUIs and UX gets more love in OSS nowadays.

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On the other hand, Windows with its “everything needs to be in GUI” tends to require several clicks until you get to the setting you want to change if it’s something even a bit more niche. That’s an usability problem, too. I like writing a script and have everything ready with a few character, Tab and enter, instead of using your mouse to do stuff that takes much more time.

I do agree with good GUI (really really agree, especially in programs like Krita where you are mostly using some pointers instead of keyboard), because not everyone knows what to do with a configuration file, but I wouldn’t agree that GUI > terminal or text configurations in terms of usability no matter what.

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As always it’s use case dependent and i too write command line programs if that’s what’s best for the task. I don’t need or want a GUI to configure my Apache and I don’t want to browse the internet in Lynx (except for the joke). And no GUI is sometimes better than a worse one. But you and me probably belong to the 10% of people that can and want to script things for automation. The other 90% only can work with GUI (and sometimes not even that).
Still I often favor a well made gui that shows me important things and hides other things of less importance or helps me navigate through a maze of configurations, especially when I’m not familiar with it. Maybe that means I’m getting old q_q


I switched to fully open source about 7 years ago. I was illustrating in Photoshop before then and when I switched I went looking for a dedicated digital painting program and that’s how I found Krita.

I had several reasons for switching:
1 - I don’t like the whole eco system thing for main stream software
2 - I find Windows and Apple OS’s bloated and heavy
3 - I wanted a dedicated digital painting piece of software
4 - I didn’t want to be bound to licenses or subscriptions
5 - I wanted to be part of a community that actually cares about the software, it’s development and it’s support rather than just the market share and money it brings in.

Adobe has the market and large companies will only use their products as they are ‘industry standard’ and advertised as such. I mean if you look at any job advertised in the design sector it will ask for in depth knowledge of the Adobe creative suite. Rather than acknowledging your talent first and respecting the tools you use to create in.

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My wife tried switching over to Krita for her webcomic when she first started drawing it. She was using a combination of Medibang Paint and Photoshop, and tried Krita for a couple weeks. She ended up switching back almost entirely because she wanted to stick to .PSD file formats, and any psd files she edited with Krita from that point would crash photoshop and Medibang whenever she tried opening them again.

I still feel she should have tried using a non-proprietary file type, but that’s why she isn’t using Open-source. I guess this would fall under the category of being locked into the ecosystem (proprietary file type)

I want to talk about what happened in real-life.*

When I was working, the boss asked me what software I was using because they have classes about digital art education especially in comic.

-I said “Krita”.
=He remarked “UI looks like PS(seems like good news for me) and how did you feel using it?”
-“I started in digital by Krita so it’s more comfortable for me. And it works”
=“Would you recommend it for teaching?”
-“Nope!, in current situation, the text tool lacks a lot of features”

  • -When I was in comic class, others ask me about what software I was using and when I answered Krita they were surprised. “Krita can do that!!?”
  • -Yes, people are confused about free software means shitty MS Paint Art
  • -Although I advertise that I use Krita, I only recommend if Krita can provides what the other artists want to achieve
  • -Be honest about what software can do or not is better than blindly forcing others to try it. My opinion is it can damage the image of Krita if the users expecting something that Krita can’t do.

Personally, I use FOSS software and donate as much as I could because I love it.

I think free or open or paid or whatever people just wants “It just works”. Time is money

*When the talk happend, the version of Krita is 4.1.7

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I received some similar reactions a few times. Usually it goes something like that.
They: “I could be as good as you if I just could afford a Mac and Photoshop.”
Me: “But I use Krita on a Linux”
They: :open_mouth:

I once had a colleague who switched from design school to programming and he was one of them. I turned out he was a mostly a Photoshop+Mac advocate because that’s wat they get told is the only way of doing it right. And I can’t even blame them. If you wanted to do digital art like 25 years ago, you went to Mac with PhotoShop. This is engraved in the DNA of the digital artists of the early age and of course they will recommend to their students what worked for them. But change is happening and the most artists I know don’t flame each other on forums for their software anymore. They usually have a “Use what gets the job done and works for you”, mentality. If MSPaint works best for you, than do that.
However, when you don’t have the luxury of working alone, interoperability and compatibility can become a problem. You will have a hard time working as an artist with Krita when everyone else in the office exchanges PSD files.

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I think I’ve seen some discussion on what still makes open source alternatives not very viable for creative work in the industry. However the points you’ve addressed seems to place quite a bit of pointing at consumers being at fault for not wanting to make their switch.

A number of what you have said may have their points, but what needs to be considered is that in some fields of creative work, there exists a workflow most would rather stick with and if it requires a certain tool to accomplish the work fast and efficient enough then they would rather stick with it in order to maintain the flow of production as well as maintaining deadlines. It’s not like people don’t like change and are lazy per se, but when you need to maintain productivity within set schedules, learning a new tool will take a fair bit of time on their end and thus reduce overall productivity. This is where you start hearing things like “I could’ve managed this in seconds when I was using the other program!” from artists. I know some colleagues of mine who came from traditional media backgrounds (one particularly skilled colleague of mine have been doing paintings before they became part of the team) is poor with computers overall and would rather stick with one given tool they’ve been trained to use.

Prior to starting my career as an in-between animator I have been using Krita very often, but upon entering my company I have since transitioned into Clip Studio Paint for animating purposes as it is the one de facto tool used by us. I have since obtained myself a copy of it for personal use at home, but I do still maintain being prepared to work in either Krita or MyPaint if I feel like it. If I had to be asked on certain things that Krita lack compared to it, I can list a few things I want Krita to have but whether Krita developers decide certain features are needed to bring it up to par to a certain contemporary, it is up to them.

It is true that in creative work there has not been enough free open source alternatives to commercial software often used in production pipelines (hello After Effectssee note below, how does it feel to monopolize the layer-based compositing and motion graphics market and excelling in producing animation in ways your node-based contemporaries might need some workarounds to be comfortable with), however, and you cannot really pin the blame much on workflows that has been established by production companies in order to maximize efficiency on their end.

note: (If you ask me on why use After Effects as an example, I’ll say this in advance: have you seen a physical animation X-sheet? If yes, do you know how to read it and if yes to that, have you seen a sequence where it looks so out of order on paper? That’s what After Effects is for - to arrange the animated frames in order according to the X-sheet where the sequence makes sense once seen in motion - and this is before effects and other fancy stuff are added to the sequence)

Software are tools, and it just happens that majority of tools trusted by productions are paid software that cater to their specific wants and needs. It’s not like there aren’t any free open-source software being adopted by the creative world, however free open-source software as I know it is worked on by a number of people who decide there needs to be tools for everyone to use and is free to be used/modified however they see fit (ergo, open-source). If there’s no one to tell some people (hint: developers) what they really want in a program to suit their needs, then it makes understanding the need for it very, very hard on the developers’ end. Pretty sure developers have their own questions as well: “What do they want to do, how do they do it, and why do they want to do it that way, and how can we make that happen for them?”

To briefly summarize what I have said up to this point: There’s a lot more to see than just thinking consumers are defaulted to a mindset that is conditioned to not accept alternatives. The reality is while there are open-source tools that are just as creatives-friendly as their commercial counterparts, there are still things they look for like familiarity to the tools they’ve used and if the alternative can do the same things they’re used to do down to a T without needing a workaround on their end.

On another note: I have tried to explore the use of OpenToonz at some point but it is on a level I have yet to understand. There exists documentation for its use in several processes of animation (like coloring animation frames and importing scanned hand-drawn frames for digital work) but last I checked those are still in Japanese which probably could use the hands of a skilled translator well-versed with the terms and jargons…

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We actually did have a plan to make the timeline optionally work a bit more x sheet like(so, vertically at the very least, which is the hardest part), but again, this didn’t get in due a lack of time. We sat down with like 2, 3 animation professionals to setup the current system.

OpenToonz’ problem is basically that no one has time to write docs, it seems. The Morevna project people seem to be able to tame it, but it seems they are too busy animating instead of writing docs, which I suspect is more or less the reason why there are no docs in the first place because anyone who knows how to tame opentoonz proly has a dayjob somewhere and no time to write docs.

I personally have all the respect for people not having the time to learn new software, but unfortunately that isn’t what is said, so it’s often not ‘I don’t have the time to learn the software’ but rather ‘you made bad software, no one would use this, you piece of shit’ (Though, admittedly, mostly I see on twitter ‘what software can I upgrade to? I use Krita, but it is free.’).

An you know, while for the former I can say ‘well, just try it out sometime and if it isn’t your thing, it just wasn’t meant to be’, but the latter two I don’t really feel like I should at all engage with them for my own sanity.

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That is interesting to hear. However as my workflow isn’t really dependent on having the X-sheet mechanic on a digital workspace I am not aware of how different it would be however. To note: majority of productions in Japan still default to pen and paper and this includes a lot of material used for production such as the x-sheet, layout and animation keyframes (and keyframe corrections). They have been taking on the transition to digital workflows, but not as fast as you’d like to imagine it be.

I do fancy myself a function similar to what some people call “shift and trace” in Krita and I am very delighted to see a feature request that also tracks back to a similar suggestion based from a discussion I took part in has been acknowledged. However I figure it will be some time in a future release till we see a UI model ready to be tested by users. Not that I am urging for this to be happening as quickly as possible, but I can only wish well on works being done for it for now.


As someone who just recently switched over (Pop OS, Krita, Blender, etc.), it wasn’t reluctance to switch necessarily, but more like false perceptions and just a lack of awareness really. Even though I had seen good work come from Krita, I suppose I didn’t know just how good it was. I also tended to associate it more with a stereotypical DeviantArt style which led me to make assumptions about the program itself.

I think I had tried it briefly back when I got a 13" Cintiq several years ago, but I mistook dissatisfaction with the hardware for being flaws with the software. The parallax on that Cintiq was a real problem for me.

Then since the first gen iPad Pro came out I’ve been using that with Procreate. The clean UI seemed to be the direction these kinds of things should go and programs that used what I thought of as an older paradigm (including Photoshop and Krita), seemed kind of outdated to me, or at least unintuitive for what I wanted to do, which was was just to draw and paint.

Now a month or so ago, I kind of accidentally got interested in Linux (I can’t even remember how) and at the same time picked up a Huion tablet, though this was for 3d sculpting, not drawing. But since I had it anyway and I was kicking around with different apps on the Pop OS shop, I thought I’d give Krita another shot.

I liked it. I liked it a lot.

The brushes felt more natural and just plain GOOD to me than anything else I had tried. Combine that with the great feeling of working in Blender 2.8, and it’s like a dozen realizations dawned on me all at once regarding the nature of open source software. Not the least of which is that the mentality that goes into these kinds of projects often comes from a genuine place of passion for creating awesome tools that are made for the sake of the people who use them.

Meanwhile, paid software increasingly feels like funnels that are constantly asking the user for more than they’re giving. Especially having grown up in the 90’s when you could pay once and continue using a program, I’m just not into the way things work now. The idea of paying a subscription for software is…well, unthinkable to me.

Fortunately, we have other options. And more fortunately still, some of the options are unexpectedly awesome.

I’m sure I’ll continue using Procreate on my iPad, but I strongly suspect that Krita will become my main tool for drawing and painting. All that to say, that for a lot of people, they probably just don’t even realize that OSS is a serious option. In the case of Krita in particular, I think the more people who use it, create great work with it and talk about it, the more others will give it a chance as well.