Painting tools

Top 13 Free and Open Source Linux Painting Tools

Linux is a particularly strong platform for professionals that work within the graphic design and graphic arts industry. With low cost hardware, quality open source software, and an ounce of talent, artists can produce professional-looking computer graphics.

Designers make use of graphic design software programs. The most common software used in the graphic design industry is Abobe Creative Suite which consists of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Unfortunately, Adobe Creative Suite is proprietary software, and released only for the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. It is also very expensive software. Fortunately, there is a good range of open source software to download without charge for the Linux platform which makes it possible to do remarkable graphics work.

The purpose of this article is to identify the finest open source painting software available for Linux. Paint software is designed to imitate closely traditional painting mediums and effects. Typically, this type of software works best with a graphic tablet. Graphic tablets with an accompanying pen offer a much more precise, natural, and comfortable input method than a mouse, and are ideally suited for drawing, painting, and photo editing.

Painting software should also try to offer the feel of natural paint on a digital canvas. Basic graphics tablets are fairly inexpensive these days; with lower end models being available for around 50 dollars. Traditionally, devices from graphic tablet vendors other than Wacom did not have good support for Linux. However, the DIGImend project had the objective of improving Linux support for generic graphic tablets sold by Waltop, UC-Logic, KYE and rebranded tablets.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart..

Ratings chart for the best free and open source painting tools

Click the links in the table below to learn more about each tool.

Painting Tools
KritaEdit and paint images; part of the KOffice office suite
MyPaintPaint program with dynamic brushes for graphic tablets
GIMPGNU Image Manipulation Program
AzPainterFull color painting software
GrafX2Inspired by the Amiga programs Deluxe Paint and Brilliance
PintaMimics the usability of Paint.Net
LazPaintImage editor with layers and transparency
Tux PaintDrawing and painting software designed for children
KolourPaintEasy-to-use paint program by KDE
CinePaintTools for painting, manipulation and image processing
MiltonInfinite-canvas paint program
VPaintExperimental prototype based on the Vector Graphics Complex
CorePaintPaint app for C Suite

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

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The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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Alan Coverdale
Alan Coverdale
5 years ago

Use the software on Linux Mint and it is perfect. Do I really have to change back to Windows to use a graphics tablet other than Wacom simply because there are no drivers. I want to paint and not play with computers and this is why I left Windows-

2 years ago

It is the year 2022 now, and the DIGImend drivers for Linux provide good support for non-wacom graphics tablets (non-LCD & LCD), and also, XP-PEN & Huion also produce good graphics tablets and these usually have good Linux drivers to download from the websites of the manufacturer!
And some ThinkPad laptops and some ASUS tablets/laptops also have wacom LCD for drawing, by the way.

6 months ago

Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve been looking for a good Linux painting program, and I have also read other similar post. Looking forward to trying Krita out soon. It seems functional, free and ideal.