Windows my friends, Microsoft itself, Adobe and its Photoshop, are no longer an integral part of my waking existence. You could say that they can join Facebook & Twitter in the hell-o-sphere. I fooked off the proprietary, pay-to-play, hold-you-hostage platforms, and am now smooth sailing with all free, open source programs.
I would have done this sooner, because I love the idea of free programs, and I detest the bloated barge that is Windows. I resent the monthly protection fee I had to pay Adobe to be able to make digital art. What stopped me from switching over before is that I’m a power Photoshop and Office user. But Microsoft did me the favor itself. I bought my new laptop in Thailand, and while it came with a legit copy of Windows (that jacked up the price), the Microsoft Office was apparently not. Two days ago Office shut me out, demanding a product key.
Well, horse cloppy, if I was going to have to switch to Libre Office instead, then the only thing keeping me hitched to Windows was Photoshop. Over the past half year, however, I’ve moved to 3D art, and my new primary tool is Blender, which is probably the most amazing piece of free software in existence. So I decided to forego Photoshop, and learn the open source alternatives instead. It’s a big sacrifice in my case, but the benefits are even greater.
It’s my turn to be under lockdown, so I have a few weeks where I can’t go into work to make this transition. It’s as good a time as any.
Linux is only 1.8% of the market share, so it’s really not worth going through the trouble for hackers to infiltrate. It’s also exceedingly difficult to get a virus on the system for a variety of reasons, including that the user has to approve any change that would cause a problem, and the programs that run on Linux that you get through the app store are zero risk. So, no anti-virus necessary, and it’s recommended to not install one. Linux systems are a tiny fraction of the size of Windows, and you can install them yourself. I’m using Ubuntu.
I started messing around with Krita, which is a free digital painting program.
It’s surprisingly powerful. Once you know the short-cut keystrokes, a Photoshop digital painter can use it without much difficulty. It became immediately apparent that I can do a large range of my digital painting styles with Krita, and in some ways it may be easier to use.
I discovered a really cool wet paint brush that allows you to mix and blend colors on the fly.
Above, you can just hit “tab” to go into a distraction free mode.
I made this corkscrew-remover-looking robot as a one hour experiment in messing around on the fly.
It’s not worthy of my portfolio, but nothing I do in an hour ever is. It’s a cool brush, but a little tricky to master. You can tinker with the brushes, and there are many more than the presets, but I didn’t delve that deeply. The short of it is, I can make digital paintings without Photoshop.
Krita is not a photo-editing package. For that, I need to get out the GIMP. GIMP is the #1 competitor for Photoshop, and even so is no competition if you are an advanced user. It can’t compete with decade old versions of Photoshop. But it will have to do.
I contemplated if switching to free and open source computing was worth losing some of my high-end graphics tools. I finally decided that I’d also much rather support the people who make free alternatives. I’d rather be a citizen of that virtual universe.
Blender, itself free and open source, runs like a dream on Ubuntu.
I’m pretty flexible artistically, and have created works using Painter, Z-brush, and ArtRage, as well as Blender and Photoshop. Some doors open, some are temporarily closed. If I really miss PS, and other proprietary software, one day I can get a second computer with Windows that never goes online. After a few years of not paying monthly for Photoshop and Microsoft Office, I will have saved enough for a second computer without even trying. Though, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to run certain programs without being connected to the internet. Probably better to just wait for the free software to catch up, or in cases like Blender, surpass the expensive versions.
At first the transition was a bit difficult. I resented all the ways that Ubuntu was different from Windows, because I’d already learned all the in and outs of Windows and they’d become second nature. But after just a day, it’s a pleasure to use Ubuntu. It’s clean and fast and simple. I don’t have to search for all the hidden features Windows installs to steal your privacy, including the hidden option — turned on by default — to record every keystroke you make and forward it to Microsoft.
Aside from the immediate practical benefits of having a streamlined operating system that could run on a toaster, it’s liberating to slough off the shackles of being dependent on big tech; being a party to it; having to pay for it; or being vulnerable to all the hacking and viruses that come along with it. It’s a load off my mind, and a lot less stress and frustration.
~ Eric Wayne