DrawPile, free collaborative drawing app, gains momentum

DrawPile, free collaborative drawing app, gains momentum

Are you missing the sessions recording/playback feature from OpenCanvas? Or would you like to work on a concept with a fellow artist who's on the other side of the world? DrawPile, a free drawing program for Linux and Windows, is back on track.

It looks like there was a five years long hiatus, but Calle Laakkonen silently worked on DrawPile and recently started baking releases of the application like there is no tomorrow. Over the last several years DrawPile gained:

  • Support for layers and blending modes, saving to OpenRaster file format.
  • Copy & paste support, as well as pasting from file and by dragging & dropping.
  • Built-in smoother to eliminate jitter while painting.
  • Stroke preview, shortcuts for changing the brush size using the keyboard or the mouse.
  • Indirect drawing mode.
  • A new tool for drawing circles and ellipses.
  • Tool slots for quickly changing between tool presets.
  • Canvas resizing.

As for collaborative drawing, one major addition is a UI for granting session operator privileges to other users. E.g. a user can now gain exclusive access to particular layers. and there are floating markers for identifying who is drawing at the moment on the canvas. Calle also improved annotation editing and added a virtual laser pointer tool for pointing at things on the canvas.

A notable new feature (added in v0.8.2) is the recording and playback of drawing sessions. Basically DrawPile records a log of all actions and lets your replay it (e.g. for teaching purposes) at a later time which can be useful for e.g. teaching the basics of sketching. The feature is well known by users of OpenCanvas.

If you need a clean gapless playback session, you can filter out various events (or lack thereof), and you can also export the session as a video file (or a sequence of PNG images, should you want to do some compositing).

On a more technical side, the network protocol and server were completely rewritten.

The most recent version, released last week, features new color selection widgets borrowed from Knotter, a celtic knots design app by Mattia Basaglia.

DrawPile relies on its own brush engine that is somewhat simplistic in comparison to the one you can find in GIMP, MyPaint, or Krita. However you can still control size, opacity, and spacing, tweak response curves for pressure, and define, whether tablet pressure should affect size, color, and opacity.

In a conversation Calle Laakkonen shared:

I do consider the current paint engine to be the weakest part of Drawpile. After the 1.0.0 release, I'm planning on exploring possible alternatives, with GEGL looking like the most promising option right now.

The lead developer still has a major feature up his sleeve before releasing v1.0: a web admin interface for the DrawPile server) but aside from that, my original roadmap is complete. He expects two or three bugfix releases before 1.0 though.

Source code and Windows installers are available for downloading at SourceForge.

Cover photo by All Hands Volunteers.

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