Most people don’t think of Linux as a great platform for image editing and digital art, but even though Adobe has never ported any of their Creative Suite to Linux, it’s still a capable operating system for creating digital artwork and working with images.
These five tools provide artists and photographers with strong open-source alternatives to the expensive industry-standard tools on Linux. They’re all free, well documented, and actively developed by the open-source community.
GIMP has long been the standard go-to solution for photo editing in Linux. It is a multipurpose image manipulation program that aims to be somewhat of an equivalent to Photoshop.
GIMP isn’t Photoshop, though. For better or worse, it’s much simpler than that. Professionals might find it limiting, but casual users will probably find GIMP easier to pick up and get started. They’ll also probably never reach the upper limit of GIMP’s capabilities.
GIMP is a great option for editing and manipulating photos. It has plenty of options for carving up, altering, and rearranging an image.
GIMP is extensible with Python. You can find scripts online, or you can write your own. This scripting potential brings entirely new levels of control to GIMP power users.
When it comes to file formats, GIMP can handle nearly anything. It is fully capable of working with PSD files from Photoshop, and it can export into all major image formats and many lesser-known ones too.
Krita is the ultimate digital painting program. It allows artists to create art how they choose, either with their own hand and a tablet or by using the mouse and keyboard.
Krita is part of the KDE Project, but it has grown to be much more than that. It can easily challenge its proprietary competitors in the digital painting space.
Development of Krita has intensified over the past few years and only continues to pick up more momentum, so expect Krita’s already-rich tool kit to continue to grow and deepen.
Krita supports PSD, and it can open a load of different formats including high-resolution raw images. It can export to JPG, PNG, and GIF.
It features multiple ways to draw your graphics. Of course, it has a path tool and a freehand drawing pencil. It also has pre-defined shape tools and text. This unassuming program also allows you to import existing images and convert them to vector graphics.
You can also expect full anti-aliased rendering from Inkscape, along with transparency in images.
The main file type that Inkscape is built to handle is SVG, but it can also work with PDF, PNG, PostScript, and several more.
4. Raw Therapee
Raw Therapee was created for photographers working with raw images. Among photographers, raw photos are popular because they are uncompressed and as unaltered digitally as possible.
This utility provides tools for photographers to edit their raw photographs by tweaking colors, sharpening focus, and cleaning up visual artifacts.
Raw Therapee provides multi-threaded performance and takes advantage of modern CPU features to accelerate high-resolution image processing. It can export JPG, PNG, and TIFF images.
Darktable is another utility geared towards photographers. One of the big selling points behind Darktable is its ability to edit photos without destroying or damaging the originals. Darktable also features GPU acceleration.
Darktable was built to handle raw images as well as other popular formats like JPG. It can export in a variety of encodings including JPG, PNG, and TIFF.
Darktable has powerful editing options. It supports image correction and color adjustments. It’s capable of resolving many imperfections and abnormalities common in digital photography. Darktable includes a range of post-processing options for filtering and modifying your photos, too.
Different Tools for Different Jobs
It’s not really possible to rank these programs because they all serve very different functions. They’re all great utilities to have in your arsenal.