4 methods to draw smooth lines or curves in Krita

Assalamualaikum. Hi guys!

When making drawings or illustrations, we often need to make long lines or curves. Or at least when making line art, we want to keep our hands steady. For this purpose, there are at least 4 methods that we can do in Krita:

  • Canvas rotation and mirroring
  • Brush Smoothing
  • Assistant Tool
  • Vector Graphics

Let's discuss each of them one by one.

Method 1: Canvas rotation and mirroring

The first method that artists often rely on when creating long lines or curves is by rotating the canvas, and/or by mirroring it. This is because most people have a tendency to be good at drawing lines in a certain direction. Whether it is left diagonal, or right diagonal, or perhaps vertical, or horizontal directions. By rotating the canvas in a certain orientation, we can overcome our weaknesses, and create lines in the direction that we like or are good at. Just for an example. For me, drawing a line vertically from top to bottom is easier compared to drawing a line that extends horizontally. If I have to draw a horizontal line, I usually rotate the canvas around 90 degrees first. Then I draw the line.

So now, how do we rotate the canvas? There are many ways to rotate the canvas in Krita. If you prefer the "middle mouse button" method. You can hold down the Shift key, and then click drag with the middle mouse button. If you prefer the Spacebar navigation technique, you can hold down the Spacebar key as well as the Shift key. Then click-drag with the regular left mouse button. If you prefer to use only the keyboard keys, without the mouse, you can press number 4 and number 6 to rotate the canvas around. And press 5 on the keyboard to reset the orientation. I explain all of these techniques visually in the following eBook.

If you prefer to use the UI buttons, you can use this small circle at the bottom area on the "status bar".

Or you may also use the "pop-up palette". That is by right-clicking while using the brush tool. Then drag and rotate this small white circle. To reset, or return the canvas rotation to default, you can slide and snap this white circle, to the dark circle on top.

There is actually another method to rotate the canvas, and that is by using "touch gesture". If you are using an Android device, for example, or using a drawing tablet that supports "touch gesture", you can use 2 fingers to rotate the canvas and also zoom. You can also use 3 fingers to do "panning".

Next, to "mirror" the canvas, you can press the letter M on the keyboard, or you can also press Alt + M. The difference is that by pressing the letter M only, the canvas will be mirrored at the center of it. But, with the Alt + M shortcut, the canvas will be mirrored at the location of the mouse cursor.

Method 2: Brush Smoothing

When you use the "freehand brush tool", in the "tool options" docker, you will see the "brush smoothing" option.

There are 4 modes of brush smoothing provided by Krita. Here is a brief explanation of each one:

  • None
    This is the default option, which basically means that the brush smoothing feature is turned off.
    You should know that the "brush smoothing" feature will put more load on your computer's performance. So in general, you always want to turn this option off. You should turn it on only when it's necessary. For example, when creating outlines or line art, or what is commonly known as the "Inking" process in comic creation.
  • Basic
    You only need to use this mode if you are using an older model drawing tablet. Today, most drawing tablets available in the market already have a basic "brush smoothing" feature embedded in the hardware and/or the driver. You can simulate the feature via software with this "basic" option. If you enable this "basic" option, but do not feel any difference, it means that your "drawing tablet" already has the feature enabled. You've been using it all along whether you realize it or not.
  • Weighted
    This mode gives a stronger "brush smoothing" effect than the "basic". Of course, with the consequence of more burden on your computer system. With this feature, you may notice that the brush tip is moving late compared to the mouse cursor. This is to compensate for the vibration of your hand.
  • Stabilizer
    This mode has an even stronger "smoothing" effect compared to the "weighted" mode. Consequently, it also makes the heaviest demand on computer performance. Generally, I am quite satisfied with the "weighted" mode and rarely need to use the "stabilizer" mode.

Method 3: Assistant Tool

In the real world, we usually rely on straight rulers, French curves, compasses, or other similar tools to draw long lines or curves. Well, we can think of the "assistant tool" in Krita, as these drawing tools. There are many types of assistants provided by Krita. By the time I recorded the video or wrote this tutorial, these are the "assistant types" that you can create in Krita:

  • 2 Point Perspective
  • Concentric Ellipse
  • Ellipse
  • Fish Eye Point
  • Infinite Ruler
  • Parallel Ruler
  • Perspective
  • Perspective Ellipse
  • Ruler
  • Spline
  • Vanishing Point

To utilize the "assistants", when we use the brush tool, in the "tool options" docker, make sure this "snap to assistants" option is active. With this, you can easily draw lines that follow the existing "assistant" objects.

If you want to see your drawing more clearly, you can go to the "view" menu. Then disable the "show painting assistants" option.

Method 4: Vector graphics

The fourth method to draw smooth lines or curves is to not draw them. That is, not drawing them manually, but using vector graphics. To be able to use Vector in Krita, we need to create a "vector layer" first.

If we have a "vector layer" active, automatically all of the drawing tools will produce Vector shapes. Except, of course, the brush tools. If you want to create only the outline, you need to change the "Fill" option to "Not filled". And set the "outline" option to "brush". Because of this setting, the vector line will be black, which is based on the foreground color used by the brush tool. And the thickness of the outline will also follow the size of the active brush.

To change the appearance of the "vector shape", first, we need to activate the "Select shape tool". Make sure the shape is selected. Then, in the "tool options" docker, in the "outline" tab. We can adjust the thickness by clicking on the "thickness" field, then turning the "scroll wheel" up or down.

You can also still change its transformation, including its scale, rotation, and position. This is one of the advantages of using Vector.

Creating variable line thickness

Now, you might be wondering, what if we want to create a "variable width" outline? Or in other words, a non-uniform outline thickness. To do this, we can just add white-filled vector shapes to reduce the outline area. And we can use black ones to add more outline areas. For example, you can use the "bezier curve tool". Remember to set the "fill" option to "background color". And make sure that is is currently white. And then set the "outline" option to "No outline". Then just create an area to cover the lines that we don't want.

If you want to add more of the outline area. Simply change the "fill" option to "foreground color", and make sure it is currently black. And just create a shape on top of the the existing outline

Adding color on vector-based outlines

Currently, the "vector shapes" we created earlier are solid white, not transparent. There are many ways to convert the white-colred area into transparent. One of them is to first apply a "filter mask" to the "vector layer". Then for the filter type, we can choose "Gradient Map". Just make sure that the left stop is solid black, and the right stop is fully transparent. Click OK. And now, all the white colors have turned transparent.

From here you can easily add color to the drawing. You can use the "Colorize Mask" feature, which I have already covered in this blog and in my YouTube channel. But you can also use the regular "Fill" tool. Just create a new paint layer. Activate the Fill tool icon, or you can also press the letter F on your keyboard. Choose a color, for example a reddish-orange color. Make sure the "Reference" mode is set to "All layers".

And click inside the closed area to fill in the color.

If you want to learn Krita from the very basics to the advanced level in a fast and easy way, you should definitely check out my courses here.


Widhi Muttaqien



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