Week recap — 4 August 2020

Week recap — 4 August 2020

Week highlights: Microsoft joins Blender Fund, new features in GIMP, Krita, FreeCAD, Kdenlive, and Pitivi, new releases of BlenderBIM, LuxCore, Zrythm, and QJackCtl.


GIMP developers are preparing a new release mainly with bugfixes. Meanwhile, there's some interesting work going on in private branches.

Jehan has been experimenting with linked layers:

The caveat is that, currently, once you transform (rotate, scale etc.) a linked layer, it becomes a regular bitmap layer. So that's another feature that will obviously benefit from non-destructive workflow in the future. For now, linked SVG files can be potentially special-cased to not become regular bitmap layers, or so Jehan says.

Another thing being workd on (by Ell) is the rewrite of stroke smoothing while painting. The existing implementation is slow and zoom-dependent. The ongoing rewrite (also happening in a private branch) rewrites other bits of GIMP to make smoothing vastly better.

Krita got a few useful improvements in AppImage builds: OpenJPEG and libheif support, as well as audio support. The next major update, which is going to be 5.0, is also getting a much improved halftone filter, with vastly more artistic control over the rendering.

Updated Halftone filter in Krita

The SeExpr GSoC project by Amy Spark has been merged to the master branch of Krita and will become part of v5.0. You can grab a nightly build and see for yourself. If you are not familiar with this, SeExpr is basically an expression language with many uses, one of them being the generation of patterns. The language was designed by programmers from Walt Disney Animation Studios.

SeExpr is hooked up to fill layers (and to the Halftone filter too, by the way). Now when you open the options for a fill layer, there's a new page called SeExpr.

There aren't any downloadable .kse files right now (it's pretty much a script and a preview PNG file for it packed into a ZIP container), so you go right to the Options tab and paste your script code into the text field right below the Add new variable button. Or you can use that button to add code from scratch. Then you can save your preset (which is stored as a .kse file, I assume).

SeExpr options in Krita

You can find some examples in the src/demo folder of the upstream SeExpr project as well as in a dedicated thread on Krita Artists. I didn't exactly ask Amy about that but I have an educated guess that, come the release time, Krita will be shipping with some examples you could learn from.


darktable developers tagged v3.2.0, so within a week, there will be an official announcement with explanations, screenshots and all that jazz. Quite a few exciting things coming (sadly, without .cr3 support in the RawSpeed library (they basically need on Exiv2 to support it too, and there are some legal concerns there).

Given the amount of changes in the past half a year, the Siril team is strongly considering another v0.99.x release. This will be a kind of a beta of the upcoming v1.0.

3D / VFX

The conspiracy news of the week was definitely Microsoft joining the Blender Fund with 30K euro, which is a half of one developer's salary (Blender Foundation is quickly approaching 20 paid employees).

Luca Rood wrote a completely sensible thread on Twitter to explain why you shouldn't be freaking out.



In other news, Blender 2.90 has entered the beta stage. You can get builds from the usual page, and here are release notes in the progress. There are some veeeery nice improvements all around, including Cycles (yes, people still use it, and rightfully so!).

This also means there's already builds of what will become v2.91 too!

The Epic Mega Grants program embraced X-Pose Picker and X-Muscle System add-ons for Blender (links have affiliate ID, feel free to strip it). The former one simplifies rigging and animation, the latter one simplifies creating a muscular system and its physical simulations.

LuxCore and BlendLuxCore v2.4 have been released. Some of the highlights:

  • New OpenCL code to evaluate textures and materials, doesn't require kernel re-compilation anymore
  • LuxCoreUI now has a "Fill kernel cache" menu command to pre-compile all possible GPU kernels
  • LuxRays API reworked to support generic hardware devices (now OpenCL, potentially CUDA, Vulkan, Metal, etc.)
  • Support for CUDA rendering and out-of-core CUDA rendering (for scenes larger than available GPU RAM)
  • Support for denoising baked light maps with Intel ODIN
  • Support for a new color re-mapping image pipeline plug-in using .cube LUT files

For more information, please see release notes.


One of the new features in the Assembly3 "fork" of FreeCAD is a pie menu. Personally, I've had my reservations about this UI solution since it showed up in Blender a few years back. Having to do a circular reading of what is essentially a menu… Too much attention scatter and definitely not my cup of tea. But if you like it, here you go:

You can grab ready-to-use builds here. Another new feature in that friendly fork is a search system that you probably already know from Blender, GIMP, and Inkscape. See this thread on FreeCAD's forum for more details.

FreeCAD search

The last time ago, I had the gut feeling that a new BlenderBIM release would be knocking at the door soon, I did not expect it to show up mere two hours after posting the previous recap though :) There's the usual ton of new stuff, some of the new features are:

  • New UI to manage IFC constraints, as well as manage and create IfcPeople and IfcOrganisation
  • Support importing triangular grids, as well as invalid grids from files made with Revit
  • Support the exporting of IfcSpatialElementTypes and IfcPositioningElements
  • Support the export of IFC2X3 "Style" classes in IFC4
  • New feature to automatically calculate quantities during export

Please see release notes for vastly more info.


Sashmita Raghav posted another update on their work implementing the UI for subtitles in Kdenlive (the back-end was developed during GSoC 2019). Everything seems to be going fairly well, although there is (a lot) more work left to be done.

Initial UI for subtitles in Kdenlive

One new feature I really like in Kdenlive are named workspaces that allow showing only the docks you need for each stage of video production. So I did a quick video about this.

Ayush Mittal started working on render settings update in Pitivi. The code is in the render_experience branch on gitlab.

One of Pitivi's GSoC students, Abhishek Kumar Singh, continues working on refactoring the media library. He recently posted a video demoing an early implementation of tagging for footage. You can see it in the merge request here. His other plans are outlined in this blog post.


QJackCtl is out with preliminary support for JACK CV ports handy for hybrid hardware-software setups. This kind of ports is not a new feature at all, it's been around for quite a few years now. Still, very much welcome addition.

You should now get used to the idea of a new Zrythm release every other week :) There's no fancy new features in v0.8.757, just a bunch of fixes and improvementrs following what I would call a significant rise of project awareness,


Blendernation runs a behind-the-scenes for 'Ladybug Unmanned Scout Unit'.

Blender, ladybug

Shading with Inkscape, by Nick Saporito:

How to colorize black-and-white photos with GIMP, by Davies Media Design:

Ramon Miranda explains new brushes for watercolor painting with Krita:


Albert posted new artwork made with Krita:

Albert, Krita

Philipp Urlich is in the (slightly?) new territory of pixel art:

This piece is painted in 300x150 pixels, using the palletize filter layer to map the painting to a predefined color palette.

Philipp Urlich, pixelart landscape with Krita

New render with Blender, by YotaKa. Great work after 2 years of personal creative hiatus!

YotaKa, vanitas

Each of my weekly recaps involves researching, building and testing software, reporting bugs, talking to developers, actually watching videos that I recommend, and only then writing. Time-wise, that's between 10 and 20 hours. If you enjoy the work I do, you can support me on Patreon or make a one-time donation.

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