MyPaint 0.8.0 Review

MyPaint 0.8.0 Review

Ilya Portnov, a co-developer of a reat painting app called Mypaint, delivers a review of newly released v0.8.0.

Highlights of this version: a lot of new brushes, new harmonic color selector, a Layers dialog, user interface available in multiple languages.

About MyPaint

As you can easily figure out from the name, MyPaint is a painting application. There a great deal of painting tools, including free-as-in-speech ones and the ones for Linux (GIMP is the first one you could name). What is special about MyPaint is that it is streamlined for painting and has no postprocessing features at all (at doesn't even have cropping or color levels). So MyPaint is rather in the lines of Corel Painter and ArtRage, not exactly competing, but following the approach.

The most significant difference from tools like GIMP or Photoshop, however, is MyPaint's extremely advanced support for input devices like graphics tablets and a very advanced and powerful brush engine. For example, Corel Painter has several built-in engines to do the calculation for painting (watercolor, oil etc.) and each of the algorithms has a number of user defined options (brush diameter, smudge level, level of paint spread and so on), and each of those options can depend on any kind of input events (pressure, direction, velocity etc.). Each of Corel Painter's brush engines does its best to try simulating physics of each process like spreading of watercolor paint on paper. It requires so many computational resources that trying to run the most recent version on a 4 y.o. computer doens't make any sense.

MyPaint has just one brush engine, and it doesn't try to simulate physics of real processes. But this engine turned out to be generic enough to enable quite realistic look of paintings with right brushes and right techniques. Besides, it allows users to create paintings that are impossible in real life, like a fusion of pastel, oil and watercolor.

All MyPaint brushes are actually variants of one brush. Currently there are 35 user defined options (brush size, opacity etc.), and each option can depend on any set of 8 input events (pressure, direction, velocity, random and so on). This dependance can be either linear or non-linear (you can draw an arbitrary response curve). This is why you can create a great variety of brushes that really look unique. There are ca. 300 brushes currently shipped with MyPaint.

The team of MyPaint developers isn't large. The project was started by Martin Renold (Switzerland). Now the team also includes Jon Nordby (Norway), Jonas Wagner (Switzerland) and Ilya Portnov (Russia), that is —me. A lot of contributions came from Sean J. MacIsaac (Canada), who created many great user interface mockups. So we are a rather spread around the globe.

What's New

Now let's go for review of changes in MyPaint 0.8.0. Some of the new features were implemented by me. Last summer some of my relatives who are artists tried using computer and, in particular, MyPaint for real work. In consequence to that I was quite overwhelmed with feature requests and bug reports, so I started my own development branch. Unfortunately after beginning of a new year at university where I teach my spare time decreased so much that I couldn't finish all the features for 0.8.0 that I started implementing.


Starting with this version user interface of MyPaint can be availale in any languages thanks to gettext. The list of already supported languages includes: Czech, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Norwegian Bokmol, Russian, Slovenian, Swedish, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

Grouped Brushes

As already mention before, having hundreds of brushes around in MyPaint is nothing special. Until very recently the only way to organize brushes in MyPaint was to reorder their position in the list. Now brushes can also be organized into groups. Every brush can be part of multiple groups, so the term should rather be "tag" or "keyword", not "group".


New Brushes

Painters who use MyPaint on daily basis contributed their brushes. Enrico Guarnieri (Ico_dY), Marcelo Cervino (Tanda) and Ramon Miranda created brushes that rather somulate various traditional materials (oil, watercolor, acrylic…).

ico_dy_th.png tanda_th.png

David Revoy (deevad) came up with a set of brushes for "traditional computer graphics".


Drawing Straight Lines

Now you can draw straight lines in MyPaint with any brush. Just press Shift, click the point where the line should begin, then click the point where the line should stop. The fun part is that if you press Shift and then keep clicking, all the lines will be drawn from the initial point. You need to release Shift to make MyPaint "forget" the initial point.

Picking Brushes from Strokes on Canvas

When you paint, MyPaint remembers which setting were used to create every stroke. So now you can "recall" those options: just point the cursor to a stroke and press W — the brush will switch to the one you used to create that stroke. Information about brushes used for all strokes is stored inside OpenRaster (.ora) files that MyPaint uses as native file format.

Layers Dialog

MyPaint supports layers since v0.5.0. However, until now managing layers was not an easy thing to do. E.g. to switch from one layer to another you had to use either menu or a shortcut.


Now MyPaint has a layers dialog that looks very much like the one from GIMP or Photoshop. You can reorder layers by clicking the buttons, create new and delete existing layers, rename them and change opacity.

Color Selection

MyPaint 0.7.1 already featured a number of color scheme tools: stock GTK+ color selector dialog, a color wheel and a color picker. Now it also contains MyPaint Color Selector which is based on a color wheel to choose a hue and a square to choose lightness and saturation.


Inside the color wheel you can also find 12 color cells that share lightness and saturation with the currently chosen color, by vary in hues. This is a simple tool to give you hints on harmony of colors. The tool's otpions also include means to highlights simple harmony schemes like complimentary or split compplimentary colors.

Apart From That

When I say that a lot of work has been put to this release, I really mean it: between v0.2 and v0.7.1 there were just 641 commits to source code repository (19 562 lines changed), but between v0.7.1 and v0.8.0 no less than 981 commits were performed (38 300 lines changed).

Other changes include, but are not limited to:

  • improved color picker that now displays the color of a pixel you clicked on in a square below;
  • floating dialogs are always on top now, no need to Alt+Tab any more;
  • much faster redrawing of zoomed out images (up to 30x in some cases);
  • you can use really large patterns for background now;
  • all layers can be saved as enumerated PNG files;
  • simplistic drag'n'drop support was added — a dropped image file will be opened as a new image, the previous one will be closed.

MyPaint and Durian project

Blender Foundation has been working on a new open short animation movie following successful "Elephants Dream" and "Big Buck Bunny" projects. Its code name is Durian project (the first two ones were Orange project and Peach project respectively). Durian is a fruit from South-Eastern Asia that looks like a very spiky cucumber and has a strong smell and surprisingly nice taste. This is going to be a fantasy movie, with castles and dragons. Conceptual art for the project was created by David Revoy who used development version of the upcoming (at the time) MyPaint v0.8.0 along with Alchemy and GIMP.

Written by: Ilya Portnov
License: not defined by author

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