In this article, I will show you the basics of creating and editing vector shapes in Krita. I approached Krita from the point of view of somebody who might use Adobe Illustrator. Krita has a very limited vector tool set compared to illustrator but it can do the basics. Anybody who has used Illustrator will know there is a tonne of features and tools you almost never use.
Krita, fortunately, has enough vector tools to make it practical for certain tasks.
In case you are not yet ware Krita is free so go grab it! Krita
Firstly, in case you are not familiar with vector graphics allow me to explain the differences:
Vector vs Pixel Graphics
Think of a pixel image like a mosaic, from a distance you see a nice picture but when you get up close you can see the individual tiles. The number of tiles or pixels determines the maximum resolution of the image. If you scale up a pixel image you will end up with a chunky pixelated image. This is because a pixel image is always limited by the original resolution it was made with.
A vector image is made up of points and lines kind of like a graph, the distances between the points are relative. What does this mean? If I created a basic square with vector graphics I would have 4 points for the 4 corners of the square. These points are like points in space and no matter how big I scale up the square, it will always be in perfect resolution.
As you can imagine this makes vector graphics perfect for logos take for example my MonstaBot symbol. It was created with vector graphics and if I wanted too I could print it as large as a billboard and it would still be in perfect resolution.
Because vector graphics are mostly dots and lines they have very small file sizes, when compared with pixel images.
I am one of those irritating types of people who never ever follow instructions or guides. I nearly always just dive in and think F’ it I will figure this out. This is exactly how I figured out how to use Krita’s vector tools. And it probably took way longer than it needed to so if you want to learn from my mistakes, read on.
Although Krita uses a pixel-based canvas the rules of vector shapes still applies. If you resize your canvas, the vector shapes will always stay sharp.
Start a new file, and create a new vector layer. If you do not create a new vector layer the shape will instantly flatten and you will be unable to edit the shape.
Krita has a few shape tools like pre-made shapes etc but to keep it simple I will use the bezier curve tool. This is basically a polygon snap tool, it is a point to point shape maker.
Select the Bezier curve tool and draw a basic shape. If you click once you will create a line point which has straight lines connecting each dot and if you click and drag you will create a bezier point (curved).
Bezier and curve are kind of interchangeable words they mean the same thing.
Click back on the original point to complete the shape. You can shift and click to create an open-ended shape.
To move the points around you now need to use the edit shape tool.
This tool can move the points of the shape around and if you right click on the point you can change the type of point. This allows you to turn corners into curves and vice versa.
You can also click and drag to select multiple points at a time. And then edit these as a group.
When you create a curved point you will notice the point now features two little antennas. These are the handlers though they may be called different things in different software. These allow you to adjust the curve. It is hard to explain how they work in words so the best thing you can do is play around with it for a few minutes, I have a video further down.
You can delete a point and the shape will re-form itself without the point, and if you right click on a segment you can insert a new point.
Break at Point
Break at point will break open the shape at the point you select. This will create a new point under the one you have selected. This will leave you with an area where the stroke doesn’t complete the shape.
If you wish to close the shape once again you can select the two points and then right click and hit merge points.
Alternatively, you can create a new segment in between the open points. To do this select the two points then right click and select join with segment.
All of these options can be found under the tool options for the edit shape tool if you prefer a more visual way of working.
Heres a rough video to demonstrate, excuse the bad thumbnail.
Fill and stroke
If you wish to alter the fill and stroke of the shape you need to select the “select shapes tool”. In the tool options, you will find the panel for altering the fill and the stroke of your shape. Here you can adjust the stroke style, colour and thickness and add fills and gradients. Have a play around.
Stroke = The outer lines
Fill= The Inner Shape
You can even change the type of stroke to dotted lines.
That is the basics of creating a vector shape. This shape could be scaled up to infinity and it will always be sharp. The stroke thickness however sometimes needs to be changed when scaling the shape up or down.
But wait, there’s more.
This is where I got a little stuck. In Illustrator and Photoshop, you have pathfinder options which allow you to merge and splice multiple shapes together.
Krita can do the same.
Krita does have what I would call pathfinder options but they are hidden away in a right-click menu and they are a bit more basic, but they can do the job. Allow me to demonstrate.
So above I have a new shape to interact with my previous shape. Both shapes need to be on the same layer for this to work. With both shapes selected by either click and dragging or shift and clicking. I then hit right click and select Logical Operations, next I hit subtract.
As you can see the circle has been removed from the first shape. What determines which shape is subtracted depends on the order in which you select the shapes. You can also merge multiple shapes together to create a hybrid of both shapes. Or you can splice which only keeps the area in which the shapes overlap.
It’s not all perfect though because currently when the shape is completed a tonne of new points are added to complete the shape. This may be something that gets developed out but it means you are kind of stuck with the new shape. This is fine if you know what your final image will be.
That is where I would consider the limit of Krita’s vector abilities. It is still a very good vector program and suitable for many uses it is just important to know the limits. You cannot really adjust the shape in the same way you could prior to the subtraction.
This is only a quick basic look of the vector tools but hopefully, from here you can play around and learn the rest.
Thanks for reading.
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