Can Technology Improve Art? This Linguist Thinks So

One of humanity’s oldest forms of expression takes a surprisingly modern turn with Krita

Boudewijn Rempt’s life is a mosaic. He has a Master’s degree in comparative linguistics from Leyden University in Holland. He’s a linguist who specializes in the Sino-Tibetan languages of Eastern Nepal. He’s a sculptor. He’s also co-founder and CTO of Magdeburg, Germany’s KO GmbH, the software company that makes Krita*, one of the most popular painting applications in the world.

Thanks in part to a collaboration with engineers at Intel, the open-source application, which is part of the Calligra Application Suite, is now optimized for Ultrabook™ devices running Microsoft Windows* 8 with the 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i5 and Core™ i7 processors. The collaboration yielded some interesting results.
On a traditional desktop monitor attached to a desktop PC, users “paint” with a keyboard and mouse. On the touch-enabled Ultrabook device, the experience is completely transformed. “With touch,” Rempt said, “we can easily put things where we want. Give it a flick. It feels more natural.”

Having touch available on an Ultrabook™ device gives Krita* an enormous boost because it’s more tactile. For everyone who wants artistic precision, at whatever level, you gain a sense of immediacy with the touch interface. Now you’re working directly. With the Ultrabook device, the artist-in-the-park scenario is possible.”

—Boudewijn Rempt, Co-founder and CTO, KO GmbH

In fact, touch-screen painting with Krita might be better than what people have done for thousands of years with a brush, paint, and paper. Painting software has experimented with mimicking what real paint actually does, such as changing color as it dries. Rempt recognized that art comes from the artist, not the tool. Sometimes, the tool gets in the way—even the real thing, as when the color of dry paint surprises the artist. Krita users weren’t interested in software that mimicked “the real thing.” They were interested in a tool that enabled a truer expression of their artistic vision.

With Krita on the touch-enabled Ultrabook device, Rempt believes that tool has arrived. “There used to be tablets, and people saw poor resolution and low speed. It was not a good user experience. The time for good technology has finally arrived.”

The artist with an easel at the park on a sunny day might just be replaced by the artist with an Ultrabook device. The artist can use Krita to create lines, colors, and shapes that are exactly what he or she has in mind, and are not limited by what a physical paint brush can accomplish. Krita can manipulate painted objects. Krita can “undo.” And, unlike desktop-based painting applications, it’s all done with touch. Try doing that with a paintbrush and canvas.

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