art, comics and manga, media

ClipStudio Paint vs Krita

Some time ago, I made comparisons between different types of art software available. I compared Krita and Gimp, then I compared Krita and PaintToolSAI. Now it’s time to look at what the pros use. I’ll begin with procedure, explain the gaps in free software, and then discuss how ClipStudio Paint fills in those gaps. Finally, I’ll throw in alittle bit about what I think of Toon Boon Harmony.

Table of Contents

Get ready for a very long article. It took over 4 hours to write this post. Good thing it’s Saturday.

  1. My Work-Flow
  2. Computer vs Hand-Drawn
  3. The Requirements and FOSS Shortcomings
  4. ClipStudio Paint vs Krita
    1. Layout
    2. Brushes
    3. Layers
    4. Vector Graphics Support
    5. Fill Tools
    6. Perspective
    7. 3D Model Insertion
    8. Final Touches
    9. Compatibility
    10. Concluding Thoughts
  5. Toon Boom Harmony vs ClipStudio Paint

My Work-Flow

I consider myself in the animation business… er, getting into the business… er, more precisely, marketing graphics. Drop me a line if you want something done! Check out my invisible portfolio! (Oh, wait, my website is under reconstruction.) Nevermind the shameless self-promotion. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah – pro tools. Not ProTools, professional digital art tools, mainly in regards to digital painting.

I like to draw. Most stuff never makes it online. Maybe I spare myself embarrassment or lose of opportunity? I’ll leave that a secret. In any case, I don’t like the idea of hand-coloring. It looks terrible. Agree? Good, we’re on the same page. But digitally, what can you do?

The optimum work-flow for creating digital drawings with free tools has worked out to this:

  1. Scan the drawing.
  2. Create the line-art for different parts of the drawing in Inkscape.
  3. Set the base colors in the GIMP.
  4. Color each component in Krita.
  5. Assemble the entire image in the GIMP.

Three tools, long job. After scanning, I wanted to run the drawing through a line-thinner program. I wrote one with a Guo-Hall algorithm based on some code I found online. (Thank you, Arnaud Ramey.) The results were… ok. I couldn’t just start coloring based on that, and it was an ok-but-not-great input for Inkscape’s bitmap-to-vector function.

Next, I was going to try using Optimal_transportation_reconstruction_2 from the CGAL library. I still intend to try that. Supposedly, it’ll preserve the drawing better, which is nice, but to some degree, I’m moving away from exact preservation of the hand-drawing.

In the vast majority of cases, you still need to perform corrections once the drawing is on the computer. Such corrections include:

  • Fixing proportions (e.g. arm-to-body size for creatures)
  • Fixing perspective (e.g. correcting false angles for car front-end-to-side appearance)
  • Fixing realism (e.g. unifying and dramatizing the effects of wind on hair)
  • Fixing shape (e.g. when the scanner changes the page dimensions on you)

It’s seems like it would be better to do things right the first time on the computer. Notably, however, it’s easier to hand-draw than toy with vectors. Painting with Krita is an option, but it still requires exporting the image and loading it into Inkscape for final corrections.

The GIMP has to be used for assembling the final image due to the number of layers sometimes required. The GIMP is fast at handling layers. If the number of layers can be limited to under 10, everything can be done in Krita. Otherwise, things become gradually slower.

3D work can be done in Blender. This acceptable, but working with Blender and another program simultaneously in order to get the right angle and perspective for objects comes down to a time-consuming game of guess-and-check. That’s fine for buildings (since you’re only doing it once), but it’s not fun for humans.

Computer vs Hand-Drawn

There are some things that should be done on the computer and some that are best drawn by hand. I like to separate these as “inorganic” and “organic”. The “inorganic” things are usually made of metal, brick, and other hard substances that are highly unlikely to change shape over the course of a story. This includes walls, space craft, cars, roads, and just about every building. The “organic” things are humans, animals, plants, monsters, aliens, and even perhaps liquids, rocks, and other things without a definitive and predictable shape. Landscapes are “organic” in this sense.

That said, computers are great for “inorganic” things. Many of these things, if simple enough (such as a book or a pencil) can be drawn with vector graphics very simply. Others (like cars and buildings) may be better turned into 3D models. This preserves perspective.

Organics are faster to draw by hand, with the exception of hands. Hands are hand, arms and legs are not. And faces are the most fun to draw, and since it’s easier to see and correct the overall picture when it’s still on paper, it makes sense to keep it there. Some aspects of organics – like patterns on clothes – fall into the “inorganics” category and can best be done on the computer, but their shape is “organic”, so drawing the initial shape by hand is ok.

I say all this mainly to give you an idea of what’s really needed out of the art program I want. While the ideal software would make it easy to do this entire process digitally, there are some things that are definitely needed.

The Requirements and the FOSS Shortcomings

Before I begin, I think it’s important to note something about FOSS software. While there is alot of talk about forking the code and doing things yourself, the reality is that the code-base for FOSS software often moves on without dedicated, distinct points in the commit history where the software is stable. For the non-technical, it means I don’t know when I can get the software and make it myself without getting random problems (called “bugs”) that weren’t fixed. I’d like to take the “stable branch” and work with it, but unless I dig through the changelog for my favorite software, I simply don’t know what to expect. My option is to download the latest and figure it out from there.

Krita was the best candidate for what I needed. I could already create some decent concept art for landscapes with it, and the code-base is in C++ using QT. I should blame Trolltech (sounds like a hint in the name there) for bumping up the version for QT to just outside the compatibility with my computer. In turn, Krita updated their code-base, resulting in my inability to help. Let’s talk about what I needed that Krita didn’t have.

One of the primary problems I struggled with was creating correct lines. I mean smooth lines, lines of any size or shape I needed. Krita could do lines, but note that if you ever try to change the size of those lines by even a hair, the anti-aliasing starts to look funny. The lines are either too sharp or too fuzzy/blurry. Having standard brushes with correct anti-aliasing would be really, really nice. Instead, Krita offers you the ability to make your own brushes. You could sit there for quite some time and make the ideal brushes. Have fun with that. It’s a trial-and-error process. Vector-graphics are better for that, at least in the FOSS world. I’ve heard time and again that it’s more about your painting ability than the brush, but that’s only true to some extent. You don’t see sidewalk chalk artists trying to use an 8″x12″ sheet of paper do you?

The second problem with Krita (and the GIMP) is that semi-transparent brushes can leave a speckle effect, depending on the settings. What happens is that Krita draws by splotching the canvas with the brush. It has a setting for the spacing of these splotches, which you can control, but even at high-density splotching, it never truly goes away. When you brush a canvas with a semi-transparent brush, your stroke should be smooth, not a series of splotches. Maximizing the density of these splotches (by setting the spacing to 1, meaning 1 pixel mouse traversal between splotches) thickens the effect of the brush and, in many cases, still leaves the splotchy pattern. While many brushes (such as airbrush) appear to hide the effects, the reality is that they do so with a kind of splatter effect that is evident in the pattern in the color (which you can see if you zoom up close to it).

Edit: Technically, the brush coloring setting can be changed in the brush panel such that the fill is all the same amount, but you’ll lose the ability to add more color / thickening on the same brush stroke and you’ll have to modify every brush you want to use to have this effect if it doesn’t have it already (such as “Ink_brush_25”).

The splotchy effects can be avoided by using a vector graphics program like Inkscape. It also solves another problem: namely, the need to move lines.

One of the issues in animation is the need for correcting and replacing lines. Recoloring seems almost inevitable unless you use vector graphics. Vector graphics are excellent for this. They are easy to cut apart, move, rotate, scale, and fill. I did manage to create a decent-looking face using only Inkscape, and it’s quite possible I could have added some animation to the drawing, but it’s not ideal. Inkscape was buggy and slow. (Edit: Only if you use 0.48, which is stored in the Ubuntu repo. Please download 0.92.) To render vector graphics quickly, they need to be buffered into an image and remain a constant size. Inkscape doesn’t do that because vector graphics in general are supposed to be resizeable, so it doesn’t draw things at a fixed size. (Again, edit: This is the case for 0.48. Version 0.92 does what I’m suggesting here.) For web developers, this is great. For animators, this is not. Not only is it slow, it also hides the “true size” and makes trying to figure out scaling a of the final image an extra hassle. I have had to re-export images countless times to fix the final scaling. Perhaps there is a way to turn off this feature, but there are more shortcomings.

There is no “vector airbrush” nor color overlays. You could use gradients (which are limited to a certain number of logical shapes) or try to blur vector lines to some huge extent (which is really slow). But ultimately, the quality of art from vector graphics is limited by its lack of such features. On a related note, it seems also that the gradient coloring for vector graphics is bizarre. One could say that it’s “too perfect”, but perhaps a better way to put it is “too simple”. Again, the limitations on the kinds of gradient shapes you can use (linear, bi-linear, radial, etc) effects how they fit into the rest of the image.

In short, then, I needed a vector graphics program with painting abilities… combined. I would have created such software myself (and perhaps in the future, I will), but it turns out someone else had all those needs too and decided to make it.

ClipStudio Paint vs Krita

And now for the main event.

I’ve spoken about my work-flow, but I think it’s fair to say that neither the GIMP nor Inkscape market themselves for this. The real competitors in this sector of digital art world (be it for concept art, animation, comics, and such – NOT website content) are:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Krita
  • ClipStudio Paint
  • PaintToolSAI
  • Toon Boom Harmony

… and a handful of lesser-known programs I’m not going to discuss. Sorry guys.

I tried out ClipStudio Paint using their free trial… and I liked it so much that I ended up buying it. Lesson for American software companies: demos are effective. Please do demos.

For this article, I’ll be comparing ClipStudio Paint Pro 1.7 versus Krita 2.8.5.

The feature set is very comparable. Both support plugins, but since I don’t know much about either plugin system, I can’t comment on that. Both are targeted at the same audience to some degree, though if you consider their markets (ClipStudio Paint for Japan; Krita for the US and Europe) and the styles of artwork common in those markets, the design choices make alot of sense.

Layout

The first difference between ClipStudio Paint and Krita is the layout. In true Japanese fashion – much like PaintToolSAI – ClipStudio Paint lays everything out in front of you. The interface is PACKED with stuff. Some panels can be closed, but after working with it for awhile, I can see why you would want everything open. In a sense this is both nice and difficult. The buttons are small, so there’s almost no leeway for clicking the wrong thing. On the bright side, things are organized moderately well for being a mess.

Krita has better organization. You can change the GUI around, which was nice sometimes and annoying at other times. The GIMP was the same way, so I was able to set up both programs how I wanted them. However, if you were to try to arrange the interfaces in a manner comparable to ClipStudio Paint, you find yourself struggling to select what you wanted because the components of the interface are “too big” for that.

Different layout strategies. Nothing wrong with the choices here. IĀ  have come to appreciate the Japanese layouts more, making it fast to select things, but I still appreciate the simplicity and organization of American software.

Brushes

PaintToolSAI and ClipStudio Paint both avoid the problems of splotches in the brush. All brush strokes are smooth and continuous. Their brushes are automatically-controlled rather than manually-adjusted. This sacrifices some ability to customize these brushes (though you can still customize to some extent, I believe), but it’s a small price to pay if you prefer a good brush over a clip-art pattern. Some things might be lost or hard to figure out – like the ability to quickly draw a forest of ready-made trees – but you could import your Krita-made forest into ClipStudio Paint if you like. Edit: Turns out, there is quite abit of customizability of brushes in ClipStudio Paint. It has a tiny button hiding a menu full of gems for brush settings, and you can use textures for brushes. It’s also possible to make pattern brushes, which are hard to simulate in Krita. When it comes to making a brush from an image, Krita is a piece of cake and will let you make a brush from a multilayer image. ClipStudio Paint requires messing around with materials and only lets you use one layer, which is fine but it means you need to combine your “new brush” layers before adding it as a material. ClipStudio Paint will let you pick an anti-aliasing level for the custom texture brushes, but most importantly, it’s aliasing doesn’t result in an ugly blurring effect when you scale the brush, which happens in Krita.

If you are a matte painter, however, Krita and the GIMP are your best options. In fact, the GIMP might be better just because it handles layers better than Krita for a number of reasons (not the least of which is the CPU cost per layer).

Krita has a broad spectrum of brush types at its disposal. While ClipStudio Paint does as well, Krita appears to have more, or at least more are readily available. When it comes to throwing together concept art quickly, Krita is probably the winner. With so many brush settings at your disposal, it’s easy to create a new brush and toss it into the mix. The quality of the brush strokes can range from average to poor by comparison, but that’s not a big deal in concept art.

ClipStudio Paint has multiple levels of anti-aliasing: none, alittle, medium, alot. Medium is the default, though honestly, I can’t see any purpose for the others other than none. Krita brushes are best when you use them at the exact scale they are loaded at. This means that, for various sizes, you need to recreate the brush and tinker with it to get it just the size you need with the anti-aliasing you want. PaintToolSAI has anti-aliasing also, and this is one of the things I undervalued in my previous analysis.

One thing I noted was that “airbrush” means something different in both programs. In Krita, airbrush looks like you sprayed a can of Febreeze on your canvas. It’s light, soft, and spreads out uniformly. ClipStudio Paint has such a tool but by a different name. In ClipStudio Paint, an airbrush looks more like you sprayed from a can of spray paint. The distribution of points is spiked in the middle more. Perhaps this has something to do with the underlying brush mechanics for anti-aliasing. I don’t know. Edit: ClipStudio Paint has a number of settings for adjusting the spraying.

One of the annoying parts about Krita and the GIMP is the cheapness with how pixels are colored. If you press and hold your mouse over the canvas with an airbrush, after alittle white, it starts to look fuzzy instead of smooth. What’s going on? If you zoom in, you may start to notice that the blockiness is being generated by the airbrush itself. The area of coverage doesn’t get any bigger, so edges develop, and you can see the rings where the brush has concentrated pixels in accordance with brush settings. Letting the pixels spread out is an option, but this will eventually cover the canvas and slow your computer down. Another option is to stop, but then once you move the brush, the effect may continue to be applied. Some brush mechanics allow you to perform an additive effect while others let you perform a “wash effect”, whereby only pixels that haven’t been edited will receive the new color. This keeps everything uniform, which is nice, but it doesn’t eliminate the fact that the airbrush generates an edge rather than tailing off.

Admittedly, brush mechanics are a hard thing to work out, but this should be priority 1 for an art program, and it’s something that differentiates software like PaintToolSAI from Paint.Net.

ClipStudio Paint, as you probably guessed, has its brush mechanics all worked out, and that’s what you pay for.

The main difference here is that Krita treats brushes as their own separate entities all to themselves. ClipStudio Paint treats brushes as all stemming from the same brush with lots of options.

Layers

Krita is a CPU hog when it comes to creating layers. I don’t know why. ClipStudio Paint is also a CPU hog, but if you have relatively recent hardware, you shouldn’t hear your CPU fan buzz.

Both Krita and ClipStudio Paint have effect layers, but ClipStudio Paint one-ups this by making clipping and masks easier. This is a work-flow improvement for speed since it’s possible to make white masks in Krita for the same effect. However, such a process is slightly tedious and faster to do in the GIMP. To fix this problem, I recommend reorganizing and renaming items in the very poorly-laid-out “Filters” menu in Krita… or just adding a convenient button to perform this action automatically so that you don’t need to create a white mask. This would also solve the issue of having to update that mask every time changes were made to the original source of that mask.

Update: ClipStudio paint layers workflow is… different, and not as powerful as Krita. I found creating and editing masks to be a real trick, whereas in Krita and the GIMP, you can color to them directly, duplicate, etc. Also, ClipStudio Paint has layer effects that allow you to change layer overall color (without affecting the underlying layer data), Krita has Filter Layers which apply to all layers below them without affecting the underlying data. I found Filter Layers were nice for applying blurring effects without the need to duplicate the layers. But most of all, I very much missed Floating Selection and Floating Layer – key features in the GIMP that ClipStudio doesn’t appear to have. Finally, Krita lets you work with locked layers, even if you can’t edit them, which is nice. ClipStudio Paint limits your interaction with locked layers to merely layer effects.

Vector Graphics Support

Vector graphics are awesome. They make stuff look pretty and easy to edit. ClipStudio Paint makes them even better: it lets you paint them like a brush and even edit them like a brush stroke! (Up to an understandable point, that is. – It is, after all, a vector line, not a real brush stroke.) This makes creating line-art very convenient. You can edit the thickness of lines and curves at various points – something you can’t even do in Inkscape. This allows you to taper lines to get a smooth “hand-drawn”/pen-style appearance. Lines and curves can be moved relatively easily.

The ease of use allowed me to create the line-art for a book. I estimated that the total time was probably twice as long as it would take to do the same thing in Inkscape, but Inkscape wouldn’t let you color in the same kind of object easily (that would depend on how you designed it – something I’d rather not have to think about).

In Krita, vector graphics are in a state of improvement. The system is currently alittle too buggy for my liking. That’s the main complaint I have. There are some perks about the Krita system that are better than ClipStudio Paint. Interesting, right? One of those perks is the vector handles. In ClipStudio Paint, you can’t see the handlebars for a node until you are right on top of it. This is because you never “select” a node like you do in Krita, Inkscape, and other vector programs. (Notably, if you could, this would be a part of the program prone to segmentation faults since these points can be easily removed by various means. Not that such a problem couldn’t be fixed, but why risk it?) Both programs require special tools for editing the nodes and both programs change the functionality of some of their tools to act differently based on the active layer type.

Krita offers a number of tools for editing vector graphics that ClipStudio Paint doesn’t have, but most of these are probably more useful if you’re creating diagrams. For example, you can set the appearance of the end knob and align the bounding box (of the vector curve) to the left side of the canvas. You can also set the exact position of any one of the corners of the bounding box. You can also set the pattern type projected on the line (from a few different simple patterns; sorry, no flowers). Finally, it’s easy to convert vector layers to raster ones, so no loss of productivity time there. ClipStudio Paint also lets you convert vector layers to raster, but then you lose certain benefits.

Much like Inkscape, ClipStudio Paint has smoothing settings for curves. Krita sort of has this for vector graphics, but only for some, and not fine-tuned control. Krita also lets you “brush” the vector curve into the canvas or create curves the same way you would in Inkscape. (In which case, it expects you to set the handlebar lengths while you draw the curve.) My advice: Don’t do it the second way. It’s not fun to do in the long run because it often requires a number of adjustments to get a good-looking curve.

The fact that you can draw a curve is nice, and I like the automatic simplification of the curve to some extent. However, you can’t control thickness at individual nodes, and thickness for the entire line has to be set manually with an input box. Along those lines (no pun intended), the vector graphics in Krita are created to look continuously the same thickness. In ClipStudio Paint, they are drawn to appear like pen strokes; the thickness of the vector curve at each node is based on the pressure sensitivity of your tablet pen, if you have one. This can result in lots of little nodes here and there if you don’t set the smoothing high enough.

Finally, ClipStudio Paint one-ups Krita by allowing you to erase parts of the vector curve without distorting nor destroying the rest of the curve. Krita doesn’t have this yet, so once the vector curve is on the canvas, it’s just a regular vector graphics curve. Did you expect anything else?

Fill Tools

One of the more time-consuming aspects of digital painting is filling in line-art. If you don’t have line-art in your painting, then you simply use your base color layer as the mask, but that’s because the shape of the object you are coloring is defined by that layer. Line-art, however, requires borders.

I tried creating line-art in Krita. It’s must faster in Inkscape where better tools are available and nodes are easier to select (hint, hint, Krita devs – please make the nodes larger), but that means I have to export from Inkscape and import into Krita every time a minor change occurs. That’s a hassle.

In order to fill sections of line-art without a jagged edge where the fill color hits the anti-aliasing of the line, your fill tool needs two features: expanding the fill radius (making it larger than the selected area or same-color area where the fill is being applied) and the ability to detect an anti-aliased edge and overrun it. Krita has the first of the two, but it also has a feathering edge (which is the same as a radial blurring of the selection). ClipStudio Paint has all of it, as does Krita. However, ClipStudio Paint has the option to fill up to the center line of drawn vectors, which is AWESOME!

On top of that, ClipStudio Paint has the ability to fill up to an adjustable gap size. If there is a gap in your line art, the fill tool can be set to stop at that gap. This feature is AWESOME! It’d be great to have in Krita.

Side-note: One alternative to the fill issue for Krita is to create line-art in Inkscape and export a thin version and a thick version. I use the thin version for filling and the thick version for the alpha mask for the final line-art. The results are usually really good, and selecting and filling in areas with color becomes a piece of cake. You may need to scale the image down because the thick line-art is usually 3x the size of the thin one. Also, occasionally your thin line-art may be too thin and allow for color bleed, but that doesn’t happen if you have the right selection settings (don’t set your selection tool to expand the area) and don’t mess with it’s alpha channel.

ClipStudio Paint also has another feature artists like my drool over: A brush for fixing missed spots from a fill. Any digital artist working with line-art long enough knows that fills rarely cover everything. Even for perfect cases, you will often find yourself fixing that glaring pixel here and there. When you mess up a painting, this turns into a nightmare, and you may find yourself spending hours fixing these pesky little flaws. Wouldn’t it be nice to just brush over these areas and have them be automatically fixed? Someone thought of that and put that tool in ClipStudio. There is no comparable tool in FOSS. Update: After messing with it more, I can say the brush has it’s downsides and doesn’t always work in the magic way you might expect. A regular brush is your best alternative in Krita.

Perspective

Both ClipStudio Paint and Krita allow for perspective lines. The mechanism in Krita was irritating to figure out, but with some dedication, it’s probably not be too hard to master. I haven’t tried out the one in ClipStudio Paint, but I know that it gives you 1-point, 2-point, and 3-point perspectives, which I can’t say are features I’ve found in Krita yet. (Are they hiding somewhere?) Update: I tried out the ones in ClipStudio, and I must say, it’s very fun to work with them. You get two lines coming out of the focal point of the perspective and you get handlebars on those lines to move them around. Very nice. šŸ™‚

3D Model Insertion

If you want a mannequin to use for reference on your canvas in Krita, you first should make one in MakeHuman. Then import it into Blender (which will likely require a special import plugin), set it in the pose you want, and render it. Finally, import the image into Krita and scale it to size. Easy to summarize, time-consuming to do. And if you mess things up, have fun redoing it.

ClipStudio Paint has the advantage of letting you work with 3D models inside the program. It even has some predefined poses for you. The controls for handling the mannequins are quite powerful but irritating to figure out and grow accustomed to. They need to be changed so that controls like “move camera” only changes the camera.

One downside of ClipStudio Paint mannequins is that you don’t have much control over the body. MakeHuman is far better at this, but it was also specialized for the job. You can import 3D meshes into ClipStudio Paint, but I’m not sure if the rigging works out or if ClipStudio Paint can even import a format from MakeHuman or Blender with the rigging intact.

I intended to have such a built-in mesh-display feature in my own software with the added feature of using FreeStyle to create the line-art, which could then be transformed into vector curves. Obviously, it’s an important feature to me. While ClipStudio Paint gets step one, I’m still curious at the possible benefit of step two.

Final Touches

Let me give you a secret. When you’ve finished your artwork and want to give it a nice, sharp, professional touch, use the “Sharpen” tool (In Krita and the GIMP, it’s in Filter(s) > Enhance > Sharpen). In addition to that tool, the GIMP also has a tool called “unsharpen” with more settings. Krita and ClipStudio Paint both have this tool. What it does is causes borders to appear stronger by making the dark colors near boundaries darker and the light colors near boundaries lighter. The result is very nice. Use it.

Both Krita and ClipStudio Paint offer effects layers. These can come in handy. Krita lets you use all of the filters available to it. At the moment (at least in my version, 2.8.5), the menu screen is messed up (the area for list items for a sub-menu are oversize), but this is an easy fix.

Compatibility

Krita wins. Krita is cross platform, whereas ClipStudio Paint is only for Windows and Mac. While CELSYS, creators of ClipStudio Paint, have said they are considering a Linux version, they haven’t put a timetable to it nor made any mention of progress in that direction. Most of their market seems to be on Windows, but I’m hoping that will change.

Krita support is sadly moving away from my poor dinosaur running Linux, but at least I have a decent version right now. ClipStudio Paint required me to buy a new (ahem, used) computer with Windows. Bleh. šŸ˜›

Concluding Thoughts

In terms of functionality, Krita isn’t far behind ClipStudio Paint. It has brushes, it has vectors, and it has filters. It just isn’t optimized to do these things fast. Drawing certain things can become chore. That’s not to say it’s all fun and roses in ClipStudio Paint either. You still need to do the work. But the extra seconds and minutes you spend trying to do things right in Krita start to add up after awhile. I recommend using the free stuff until you realize what you really want the software to do. At that point, you have two choices: improve the source code or go buy software that does what you want. (Eh, but if it doesn’t exist, I can only offer my condolences.)

As a firm believer in the idea that computers should make my work easier, I think it would be awesome to see some of these time-saving features make it into Krita or similar FOSS, starting with good brush mechanics and aliasing. But for now, you get what you pay for, which is pretty good considering the price tag.

Short list of wants for Krita:

  • Better brush smoothing. At the very least, this would require a new kind of brush if not a new brush system entirely. The former is probably easier and a safer bet to try.
  • Better layer handling. Mostly optimizations and bug fixes here. My CPU should not get hot when changing the name of a layer.
  • More vector graphics features. Certain features are definitely feasible and would add a lot of value to the software; others are (at least from a programmer’s perspective) far down the road.
  • 3D model insertion. 3D models can speed up processes immensely. Just having basic 3D shapes would good for templates for buildings, but complete, textured models would be awesome.

I intended to use Irrlicht for the creation of my own software to do the job. Irrlicht could be used in Krita quite easily to add this functionality, but sadly, I can’t help (for reasons I’ve already explained). If someone wants the details, I’ll be glad to share.

There is a ton of artist support information, tips, and tutorials freely available to purchasers of ClipStudio Paint, but if you know where to look (for English or Japanese), you can find alot of stuff for free.

Animation

If you’re following the OpenToonz development process on Github, you’re probably aware that it’s not ready for Linux yet but it’s in the works. OpenToonz is software originally created by Studio Ghibli for creating animation that has been released for open-source work. It currently works on Windows, and after trying and failing to get all of the necessary dependencies to work on Linux, I can tell you that it’s very close to being ready to compile on Linux but clearly not there yet.

ClipStudio Paint Pro and EX versions allow for animation with the ability to do onion skinning. That basically means showing the next and previous frames (relative to the current one) in semi-transparent and different colors so that the animator can see how they are supposed to draw. This feature is in OpenToonz and Pencil2D, and it has become an essential for animators.

Krita isn’t designed for animation, so it doesn’t have this feature. It’s not essential if you’re just creating single images, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re shopping around for animation software.

Last remarks: It might be nice to control vector graphics for animation purposes, as in Synfig studio (which is great for animating vector graphics and and a poor choice for creating it). ClipStudio Paint doesn’t have this feature as far as I know (though you can copy drawings, obviously), but there is a software that does…

Toon Boom Harmony vs ClipStudio Paint

Toon Boon Harmony is one of the only software I know of that compares to ClipStudio Paint in regards to animation. (The other software is OpenToonz.) Both have onion skinning (showing two frames at once), but Harmony is geared more towards algorithmic animation handling, sort of like a beefed-up Synfig Studio, allowing for 2D-3D hybrids, rigging, and deformers. It seems to be geared more towards companies trying to produce fast rather than aiming for the classic hand-drawn style. Think The Simpsons, not Nichijou.

In terms of price, Harmony has monthly licensing or a very expensive perpetual license. By comparison, ClipStudio Paint is laughably cheap, even for its animation version, containing slightly more features than the “Pro” version at a fourth of the cost: $50 bucks.

An Addendum

As I worked with ClipStudio Paint more, I discovered things about it in comparison with Krita that deserve mention. I’ve inserted some things into this article, but I’d like to say something on behalf of FOSS: filters and color curves are awesome. ClipStudio Paint doesn’t have a color-curve like Krita and the GIMP, and I really, really love that tool. *sigh* Krita appears to have a better selection of filters than ClipStudio Paint, but maybe more are available with the upgrade? I doubt it. This should be a standard feature.

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One thought on “ClipStudio Paint vs Krita

  1. Krita is good. A lot of functions for a price of 0$. But I’d recommend CSP if you have money because of support. Krita is FOSS meaning most are developers. Hard to communicate because of usual conflict among users and devs. If you buy CSP, you’ll be a customer. But for Krita I don’t know. I like Krita but I also hate it at the same time. Donate the project to quicken the development.https://krita.org/en/support-us/donations/

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