Whether you’re creating animations or just want to touch up on your artwork, there are some great photo editors out there with tons of tools and features.
These editors allow you to enhance or change your photos in just about any way you can think of. Plus, you can customize most of the programs’ interfaces to get the perfect working environment for your needs.
Among the best photo editors on the market are Krita and GIMP. Both are open source software, which makes them appealing for many users, and they do everything from allowing you to edit graphics and sketches to retouching digital photos.
You can get just as good results from these two tools as you would with expensive software like Adobe Photoshop and others.
Krita and GIMP are fit for serious use and offer many benefits because they’re among the leading graphics programs. However, they serve slightly different purposes, which may cause you to want to pick one over the other.
The question is: which one is better? In this comparison guide, we’ll pit Krita vs GIMP based on what they are, how they work, their features, integrations, support, and finally recommend our top pick. Let’s dive in.
Krita is an open source, completely free painting program made by artists whose desire is to provide affordable art tools for everybody. These art tools range from illustrations, comics, concept art, texture, and matte painters.
The software is easy to work with, and you can use layers among other tools like brushes, effects, filters, symmetry tools, drawing aids, masking tools, and more. The full-featured digital art studio offers you all the tools you need in one user-friendly interface to sketch, paint, and more.
You also get templates for animation, DSLR photos, design, and textures to use for your next big project. The software was created for freehand artists seeking a pro-grade platform on which to create their work.
If you want to take your artistry to the next level at no cost, Krita is an excellent image creation tool. Plus, it’s loaded with features, loved by novices and professional artists, and has a customizable user interface.
Krita is free to download and its regularly updated desktop app allows you to create and manipulate HDR images. You can use it on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices, or get the Gemini version optimized for touchscreen PCs, ultrabooks, and others from Valve’s Steam platform.
GIMP is also an open source and completely free image editor. GIMP refers to the GNU image manipulation program and is a cross-platform editor that can be used in Windows, Mac, and Linux devices among other operating systems.
As an open source program, you’re free to change GIMP’s source code and distribute your changes.
Whether you’re an illustrator, graphic designer, scientist, or photographer, GIMP offers the tools you need to get the job done. You can also enhance your productivity with its many third-party plugins and customization options.
GIMP is full of professional features as we shall see in the features section and offers a flexible, user-friendly interface. You can adjust how you want to work on your projects in GIMP without losing the features you need access to.
Plus, the program works with different file formats including JPEG, GIF, PSD, PNG, and more.
You can use GIMP for several tasks including image composition and authoring, and photo retouching. It’s just as powerful as Photoshop with tons of image editing tools and features including scripts, plugins, automation, layers, paths, selections, and more to create masterful works of art.
Although The GIMP is equal to Photoshop in power though not as intuitive, it does lack the plethora of third-party tools that further extend its feature set. Although some tasks in The GIMP take a bit more work than in Photoshop, it’s possible to do everything you need with this open-source image editing tool.
Anyone looking to do any level of image editing on Linux should start with The GIMP. Chances are, you won’t need anything else to get the job done.
Krita’s intuitive user interface has panels and dockers that you can move and customize for your specific workflow. You can save your setup as your workspace and create your own shortcuts for tools you use often.
The interface has a customizable layout, more than 30 dockers for added functionality, dark and light color themes.
Krita has over 100 professionally made preloaded brushes so you can give a good range of effects to your artwork.
Krita offers nine unique brush engines including particle, color smudge, and shape, which you can tweak extensively.
Each engine comes with its own settings for customizing your brushes, and once you’re done creating the brushes, you can organize and save them using a unique tagging system.
A popup palette is included that allows you to pick brushes and colors quickly.
This feature allows you to import texture and brush packs easily from other artists and expand your toolset. You can create brushes and then create your own bundles to share the brushes with others.
This feature allows you to achieve a kaleidoscopic effect by mirroring illustrations about multiple axes.
You can open, save, edit and author scene-referred and HDR images. Krita is the only dedicated painting app that allows you to do this. Further, you get OpenEXR support and OCIO, which allow you to manipulate the view and examine HDR images.
You can also use these tools in visual effects and filming projects.
With Krita, you get a powerful API to create your own widgets and extend the program. You can use PyQt and Krita’s API for that, but there are also several plugins that are pre-installed for your reference.
Krita has three different ways you can use to stabilize and smooth your brush strokes, especially if you have a shaky hand. The stabilizer can be added to your brush to help you smoothen it out, and an extra Dynamic Brush tool is included so you can add drag and mass.
You can change the anchor points and create your own libraries and shapes, use the text tool to add text to your artwork, and use SVG to manage its vector format.
Krita allows you to change your workspace into an animation studio and bring your artwork to life. You can layer your animations and then export them to share with others. You also get features such as export results to video, audio import support, customizable onion skinning, easy to color code, and arrange frames.
Krita’s drawing aid or assistant helps you with straight lines and vanishing points. The tool has nine different but unique assistants that help you make the perfect shape.
The tools range from the Fisheye Point tool for creating curvilinear perspective, drawing ellipses, and multiple assistants to use while drawing.
Besides painting, you can use Krita’s vector, filter, file layers, and groups. You can combine, order, and flatten layers to help your work stay organized.
This tool helps you highlight a portion of your drawing to work on. You also get extra tools for adding and removing selections and further modifying the selections by feathering and inverting them. The Global Selection Mask is included if you want to paint a selection.
With this mode, you can create seamless patterns and textures. This feature is easy to create seamless patterns and textures, and you don’t need clunky offsetting just to see how your image repeats itself.
Through OpenColorIO for EXR and LCMS for ICC, Krita supports full-color management so you can incorporate the tool into your current color management pipeline.
You can also use Krita to create your own color management pipeline using its ICC working space profiles. These profiles are designed for every need and have a color space browser you can use to visualize and explore the profiles.
OpenGL is another feature in Krita’s interface that allows you to see increased zooming speed and canvas rotation. Your canvas will look better when you zoom out.
Krita offers PSD support so you can open such files even when other programs can’t let you do that. You can load and save to PSD when you need to work on your project in different programs.
Besides the educational and training material you’ll find online, Krita offers its own training resources so you can learn all of its tools quickly.
GIMP offers tools for manipulating images in high quality, which include retouching and restoring the images to creative composites.
With GIMP, you have the flexibility and power to transform images into unique pieces.
You can use GIMP to produce icons, art for user interface components and mockups, and graphical design elements.
GIMP offers a high-quality framework upon which you can perform scripted image manipulation. It also offers multi-language support for many programming languages including C, C++, Python, Peri, Scheme, and many others.
GIMP offers top-notch color management so that you get high-fidelity color reproduction for your print and digital media. You can use this in workflows that involve other free tools like SwatchBooker, Inkscape, and Scribus.
With each task you do on GIMP, you need a different environment so that you can customize the view and behavior to your liking. That includes customizing the widget theme, which lets you change widget spacings and icon sizes to changing colors.
In GIMP you can use the full-screen mode to preview your work and edit it while using most of your screen space.
If you want to compensate for the photo imperfections in your artwork, you can use GIMP for that. The software offers fixes for perspective distortion that’s caused when the lens tilts. You can resolve this by selecting the corrective mode within the transform tools section.
GIMP also eliminates vignetting and barrel distortion through its powerful filter and simple interface. A channel mixer is included that’s powerful and flexible enough to help you get your black and white images to stand out the way you want them to.
GIMP is useful for advanced photo retouching. You can remove unnecessary details or touch up minor ones using the clone tool or healing tool respectively.
The clone tool also helps you clone objects with perspective as easily as you would with an orthogonal clone.
GIMP offers support for a wide range of input devices including pressure and tilt-sensitive tablets, MIDI, or USB controllers. You can bind regularly used actions to devise events like moving the MIDI controller’s slider and rotating a USB wheel.
You can also change the angle, size, or opacity of a brush while painting and bind your favorite scripts to buttons to accelerate your workflow.
GIMP offers file format support ranging from PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, and JFIF to special use formats like multicolor depth Windows icon and multi-resolution files.
With this kind of architecture, you can extend its format capabilities using a plugin. Plus, you can find rare format support in the tool’s plugin registry.
GIMP’s transparent virtual system allows you to load and save files using FTP, SMB, HTTP, and SFTP/SSH to and from remote locations. You can also save disk space using an archive extension like GZ, ZIP, or BZ2 and GIMP will compress it transparently without you taking any further steps.
Krita offers integration with Adobe Photoshop and G’Mic.
GIMP offers multiple extensions and flexibility through integration with Scheme, Perl, Python, and other programming languages. This results in high-level customization, which can be further enhanced using more scripts and plugins created by the GIMP Community.
Krita offers support to its users through an FAQs page, tutorials, documentation, email, resources, training, and online support ticket system.
You can also join the Krita forum if you have issues around bugs, ideas, or suggestions that need more eyes on them. You can ask questions, see what others are talking about, and show off your artwork too. You have to create a free account to post in the forum.
GIMP support is provided via tutorials, a Wiki, and a FAQs page. The site also has a team of volunteers who constantly improve and maintain it. If you have a comment or question about GIMP, they’re on hand to help you.
They even respond via email, though not instantly owing to the number of queries. But, you can post to an IRC channel or mailing list or to the GIMP newsgroup.
If you have a problem like a bug or want to suggest a feature, the Bugs page is available for that. You can also search and browse for existing reports to find out if your issue has already been sorted out before.
Alternatively, subscribe to the GIMP web mailing list and submit your mirror if the GIMP download isn’t available or a new one was added.
Krita is completely free to use and open source.
GIMP is also completely free to use and open source.
- Free to use
- Designed for illustration
- Vibrant and active community
- Professional digital art platform
- Tons of features for animation and artwork
- Specific templates and tools for a variety of media
- Easy to use
- Familiar interface for Photoshop users
- Interface isn’t cluttered with tools
- Users can learn all tools quickly
- Compatible with major operating systems
- Works with external programs and PSD files
- Great for editing photos
- Better drawing tablet support
- All-round basic tool
- Rapid development excellent out-of-the-box file opening support
- Advanced brush engines
- Customizable interface
- Detailed previews in the brush tools feature
- macOS version available in development releases
- Some features feel limited or underdeveloped
- No third-party support
- Steep learning curve for newbies
- Mostly for artists and illustrators
- No dedicated customer service team
- Only available for desktop – no mobile platform
- Updates often unstable
- Uses lots of CPU resources
- Mature platform
- Wider range of features
- Familiar user interface based on palette
- Expansive export format options
- Powerful and doesn’t crash
- Handles Photoshop-level image editing easily
- Compatible with RAW file format
- Add-ons add more functionality
- You can generate files in common image formats
- Updated regularly with new features
- Extensible and customizable
- Limited macros, layer, and custom shape support
- Not intuitive for beginners
- Cluttered interface with irritating floating windows
- Overkill for simple editing needs
- Difficult user documentation
- Interface not as pleasing or sleek like Photoshop
- Can be buggy sometimes
- No layer grouping, and other Photoshop elements like adjustment layers
Krita and GIMP are both highly capable graphics applications positioned above entry-level programs. In fact, they’re among the best Photoshop alternatives, as they offer functionalities and interfaces that are familiar and in the same class as Adobe’s tool.
While they’re both open source and completely free to use, they have minor distinctions that may lead you to pick one over the other. They also both offer support for major desktop platforms and allow you to do a wide range of image editing work.
Plus, GIMP is best for a wide range of image editing and graphics work, while Krita provides the most help for creating and getting your digital artwork done.
Krita, on the other hand, may need some re-learning, but it’s more focused and has a simplified interface for your digital and painting art needs. Unlike GIMP, Krita’s tools for digital art are not buried further down dialogs and menu structures.
For this round, though, we recommend Krita. It has better drawing tablet support, is more intuitive, and has better and well-configured features even if GIMP has more tools.
Krita also opens Photoshop PSD files directly, which makes it easier to exchange files and collaborate with others.