Getting to know Timothée Giet: Krita instructor extraodinaire

Earlier this week, I purchased the Secrets of Krita, a new series of training videos available on the Krita site. Buying the DVD is a great way to learn the basics of how to use Krita for digital painting while also supporting their further development. Lead developer of Krita, Boudewijn Rempt, is proud to add Secrets to their library of training resources. He believes that Secrets explores Krita’s full potential.

timoThe instructor behind Secrets is no stranger to the Krita Community. Timothée Giet has been a part of the Krita team for some time and Secrets marks his second Krita training series. His first DVD, Comics with Krita, delves into the workflow of how to create digital comics with Krita and other Free Software.

Timothée took time out from his busy schedule this week to chat with me about Krita and why he loves Free Software. I can’t thank him enough sharing his thoughts and I look forward to his third installment of Krita videos in the near future!

What is your background, Timothée? How did you get started in digital art?

As far as I remember, I always wanted to be a graphic artist. I started drawing comics-style illustrations when I was a kid—with the goal of doing it professionally. Later I focused on Fine Arts in high-school, and soon after that, I began doing graphic work professionally for several small independent projects.

I started working digitally twelve years ago, around 2003. At first, I used several proprietary software programs for digital painting, but never really found one where I could be as creative as on paper.

Like other software, do you feel Krita limits your creativity. Do you still prefer paper over digital for your ideas?

Not really. I still use paper sometimes to quickly sketch some ideas, but I prefer working digitally than on paper.

Is there any proprietary software that you miss since switching to Free software?

I’ve been missing a good animation software for frame-by-frame animation, but hopefully the animation feature that is developed for the next version of Krita should fill that void.

What made you an avid user of open source?

I started using Linux in 2008, and made a complete switch to it the next year. There were several reasons for this change, but the main one is that I really like the idea of Free-Libre-Open-Source Software (FLOSS). I see it as a way to really control my tools instead of being dependent from it.

This is even more important for creative work—where being creative with the tools is part of the process—and only FLOSS software can really provide complete freedom.

Note that I prefer to use the expression FLOSS rather than just open source, as open source is a bit different from Free Software. There are lots of software (and even more nowadays) which is open-source, allowing you to access the code, but it is not Free Software. You are not allowed to use, study, modify and share them freely.

Timothée (far left) with the Krita team at Siggraph
Timothée (far left) with the Krita team at Siggraph

You just finished your second DVD training series, Secrets of Krita. What’s new or different about these videos than past series?  

This DVD is meant to explain very simply all the most important features of Krita. Also it is the first one with spoken English—unlike the first one that was text only—and the second that was in Spanish.

Are these videos similar to being a student in your class?

It is different. Those videos are focused mostly on the software features, while the lessons I provide to my students are more drawing lessons.

Where do you teach?

I’m teaching at Activ-Design. It is a training center for adults that specializes in teaching graphic arts with Free Software. Currently, it is very rare to find such places. I wish there were more schools like us.

How long have you been teaching at Activ-Design?

I started working there two years ago.

What’s your favorite part of teaching?

I like sharing my experience with the students and discussing ideas with them.

What kind of students are at your school?

Some students are young adults looking for preliminary training in graphics. Others are already trained in using proprietary software and are looking to switch to Free Software tools. We also have older adults looking to learn a new profession.

Student work from Timothée's classes at Activ-Design
Student work from Timothée’s classes at Activ-Design

Do your students like using Free Software instead of what’s considered “industry standard?”

Of course, since that’s one of the goals of this training center. People coming here are looking for this.

What do your students do after their training? Where do they go? Do they stay in the arts?

The main answer is that they go to find a job corresponding to their training.

Is it difficult for students to get jobs since they are learning Free Software?

In many places, people just want to get the job done no matter which software is used. Also, Free-Software alternatives are spreading progressively in the professional area, giving some opportunities for people who are already trained.

What do you like about Krita over other available software?

I like a lot the concept of brush engines, making it possible to have really different painting tools. I love how it’s possible to link most of the parameters with lots of dynamic inputs, controlling your result. 

I also love the flexibility of the layer stack, the responsiveness of the canvas, all the color models available, the OpencolorIO integration… and a lot of other things that escape me right now because Krita’s features are second nature to me.

Do you find the brushes differ from Photoshop?

While it is possible to create most of the same brushes available on Photoshop, most of the Krita brush engines provide very different results that are not possible with Photoshop brushes.

Have you ever tried other natural media software like Corel Painter, ArtRage, or Manga Studio that’s not open source?

Long time ago, I tried Corel Painter and Manga Studio. I also used OpenCanvas. Each one had interesting features, but I always found myself limited in one way or another.

Do you use Krita exclusively for digital painting or is it one of many tools?

Nowadays, I use Krita exclusively  for digital painting. I like Mypaint a lot and it has a cool brush engine. But for me, it lacks lot of tools and options available in Krita.

Sometimes I use Gimp, but not for painting anymore.

What other software do you use?

For my work, I use complementary tools with features that are not available in Krita.

  • Inkscape: for all svg-vector or web design work.
  • Scribus: for print layout
  • Gimp: for a few of the advanced image manipulations tools not available in Krita
  • Blender: for building 3D assets
  • Kdenlive: for editing video
  • Natron: for compositing video

Also, I occasionally use a few other FLOSS graphics software like Laidout (an experimental but powerful tool for impositioning and more.. )

What are your thoughts on Krita’s aggressive development track for the past two years.

This is great step forward. The development was possible, mostly thanks to the Krita foundation work to sponsor some development, and thanks to the increasing number of users supporting the project.

A great sport

Thanks again to Timothée Giet. I’m glad there are people like Timothée helping artists navigate Free Software’s learning curve. I only wish I could enroll in Activ-Design. It would be great to learn Free Software with other like-minded people.

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