So, we had a Krita sprint last week, a gathering of contributors of Krita. I’ve been at all sprints since 2015, which was roughly the year I became a Krita contributor. This is in part because I don’t have to go abroad, but also because I tend to do a lot of administrative side things.
This sprint was interesting in that it was an attempt to have more if not as much artists as developers there. The idea being that the previous sprint was very much focused on bugfixing and getting new contributors familiar with the code base(we fixed 40 bugs back then), this sprint would be more about investigating workflow issues, figuring out future goals, and general non-technical things like how to help people, how to engage people, how to make people feel part of the community.
Unfortunately, it seems I am not really built for sprints. I was already somewhat tired when I arrived, and was eventually only able to do half days most of the time because there were just too many people …
So, what did I do this sprint?
Investigate LibSai (Tuesday)
So, PaintTool Sai is a 2d painting program with a simple interface that was the hottest thing around 2006 or so, because at the time, you had PaintShop Pro(a good image editing program, but otherwise…), Photoshop CS2(You could paint with this but it was rather clunky), GIMP, OpenCanvas(very weird interface) and a bunch of natural media simulating programs (Corel, very buggy, and some others I don’t remember). Paint Tool Sai was special in that it had a stablizer, and mirroring/rotating the viewport, and a color-mixing brush, and variable width vector curves, and a couple of cool dockers. Mind you it only had like, 3 filters, but all those other things were HUGE back then. So everyone and their grandmother pirated it until the author actually made an English version, at which point like 90% of people still pirated it. Then the author proceeded to not update it for like… 8 years?, with Paint Tool Sai 2 being in beta for a small ever.
The lowdown is that nowadays many people(mostly teens, so I don’t really want to judge them too much) are still using Paint Tool Sai 1, pirated, and it’s so old it won’t work on windows 10 computers anymore. One of the things that always had bothered me is that there was no program outside of Sai that could handle opening the Sai file format. It was such a popular program, yet noone had seemed to have tried?
So, it seems someone has tried, made a library out of it even. If you look at the readme, the reason noone besides Wunkolo has tried to support it is because sai files aren’t just encoded, no, they’re encrypted. This would be fine if it were video game saves, but a painting program is not a video game, and I was slightly horrified, as it is a technological mechanism put in place to avoid people getting to their artwork that they made rather than just the most efficient way to store it on the computer. So I now feel more compelled to have Krita be able to open these files, so people can actually access them. So I sat down with Boudewijn to figure out how much needs to be done to add it to Krita, and we got some build errors, so we’re delaying this for a bit. Made a phabricator task instead:
Pressure Calibration Widget (Tuesday)
This was a slightly selfish thing. I had been having trouble with my pen deciding it had a different pressure curve every so often, and adjusting the global tablet curve was, while perfectly possible, getting a bit annoying. I had seen Pressure Calibration widgets in some android programs, and I figured that the way how I tried to figure out my pressure curve(messing with the tablet tester and checking the values) is a little bit too technical for people, so I decided to gather up all my focus and program a little widget that would help with that.
Right now, it asks for a soft stroke, a medium one and a heavy one and then calculates the the desired pressure from that. It’s a bit fiddly though, and I want to make it less fiddly but still friendly in how it guides you to provide the values it needs.
HDR master class (Tuesday)
So, the sprint was also the first time to test Krita on exciting new hardware. One of these was Krita on an Android device(more on that later), the other was the big HDR setup provided by Intel. I had already played with it back in January, and have since the beginning of Krita’s LUT docker support played with making HDR/Scene Linear images in Krita. Thus when Raghu started painting, I ended up pointing at things to use and explaining some peculiarities(HDR is not just bright, but also wide gamut, and linear, so you are really painting with white).
Then Stefan joined in, and started asking questions, and I had to start my talk again. Then later that day Dmitry bothered David till he tried it out, and I explained everything again! 😀
Generally, you don’t need an HDR setup to paint HDR images, but it does require a good idea of how to use the color management systems and wrapping your head around it. It seems that the latter was a really big hurdle, because artists who had come across as scared of it over IRC were, now that they could see the wide gamut colors, a lot more positive about it.
Animation cycles were shown off as well, but I had run out of juice too much to really appreciate it.
Later that evening we went to the Italian Restaurant on the corner, who miraculously made ordering á la carte work for a group of 25 people. I ended up translating the whole menu for Tusooaa and Tiar, who ended up repaying me by making fun of my habit of pulling apart the nougat candy I got with the coffee. *shakes fist in a not terribly serious way* There were later during the walk also discussions had about burning out and mental health, a rather relevant topic for freelancers.
Open Lucht Museum Arnhem (Wednesday)
I did make a windmill, but… I really should’ve stayed in Deventer and catch up on sleep. Being Dutch, this was my 5th or 7th time I had seen this particular open air museum(there’s another one(Bokrijk) in Belgium where I have been just as many times), but I had wanted to see how other people would react to it. In part because it shows all this old Dutch architecture, and in part because these are actual houses from those periods, they get carefully disassembled and then carefully rebuild brick by brick, beam by beam on the museum terrain, which in itself is quite special.
But all I could think when there was ‘oh man, I want to sleep’. Next time I just need to stay in Deventer, I guess.
I did get to take a peek at other people’s sketchbooks and see, to my satisfaction, I am not the only person to just write notes and todo lists in the sketchbook as well.
At dinner, we mostly talked about the weather, and confusion over the lack of spicyness in the other wise spicy cuisine of Indonesia(which was later revealed to be caused by the waiters not understanding we had wanted a mix of spicy and non-spicy things). And also that box-beds are really weird.
Taking Notes (Thursday Afternoon)
Given the bad decision I had made yesterday to go to the museum, I decided to be less dumb and tell everyone I’d sleep during the morning.
And then when I joined everyone, it turned there had been half a meeting during the morning. And Hellozee was kind of hinting that I should definitely take the notes for the afternoon(looking at his notes and his own description of that day, taking notes had been a bit too intense for him). And later he ranted at me about the text tool, and I told him that ‘Don’t worry, we know it is clunky as hell. Identifying that isn’t what is necessary to fix it’. (We have several problems, the first being the actual font stack itself, so we can have shaping for scripts like those for Arabic and Hindi, then there’s the laying out, so we can have wordwrap and vertical layout for CJK scripts, and only after those are solved we can even start thinking of improving the UI).
Anyhow, the second part of the meeting was about instagram, marketing, and just having a bit of fun with getting people to show off their art they made with Krita. The thing is of course that if you want it to be a little bit of fun, you need to be very thorough in how you handle it. Like, competition could lead to it feeling like a dog-eat-dog style competition, and we also need to make it really clear how to deal with the usual ethics around artists and ‘working for exposure’. Sara Tepes was the one who wants to start up the Krita account for Instagram, which I am really thankful of. She also began with the discussion on this, and I feel a little bad because I pointed out the ethical aspect by making fun of ‘working for exposure’, and I later realized that she was new to the sprint, and maybe that had been a bit too forward.
And then I didn’t get the chance to talk to her afterwards, so I couldn’t apologize. I did get some comments from others that they were glad I brought it up, but still it could’ve been nicer. orz
In the end we came to a compromise that people seemed comfortable with: A cycle of several images, selected from things people explicitly tag to be included on social media, for a short period, and a general page that explains how the whole process works so that there’s no confusion on what and why and how, and that it can just be a fun thing for people to do.
Android Testing (Friday)
I had poked at the android version, but last time it had not yet have graphics acceleration support, so it was really slow. This time I could really sit down and test it. It’s definitely gotten a lot better, and I can see myself or other artists having this as an alternative to a sketchbook to sit down and doodle on while the computer is for the bigger intensive work.
It was also a little funny, when I showed to someone it was pressure sensitive, all the other artists present one-by-one walked over to me to try poke the screen with a stylus. I guess we generally have so much trouble to get pressure to work on desktop devices it’s a little unbelievable it would just work on the mobile device.
That evening discussions were mostly about language, and photoshop’s magnetic lasso tool crashing, and that Europeans talk about language a lot.
On Saturday I read an academic book of 300~ pages, something which I had really needed after all this. I felt a lot more clear headed after wards. I had attempted to help Boudewijn with bugtriaging, which is something we usually do on a sprint, but I just couldn’t concentrate.
We were all too tired to talk much on Saturday. I can only remember eating.
On Sunday I spent some time with Boudewijn going through the meeting notes and turning it into the sprint report. Boudewijn then spend 5 times trying to explain the current release schedule to me, and now I have my automated mails setup so people get warned about backporting their fixes and about the upcoming monthly release schedule.
In the evening I read through the Animator’s Survival Kit. We have a bit of an issue where it seems Krita’s animation tools are so intuitive that when it comes to the unintuitive things that are inherent to big projects themselves (ram usage, planning, pipeline), people get utterly confused.
We’ve already been doing a lot of things in that area: making it more obvious when you are running out of ram, making the render dialog a bit better, making onion skins a bit more guiding. But now I am also rewriting the animation page and trying to convey to aspiring animators that they cannot do a one hour 60 fps film in a single krita file, and that they will need to do things like planning. The Animator’s Survival Kit is a book that’s largely about planning, which very little talked about, so hence why it is suggested to aspiring animators a lot, and I was reading it through to make sure I wasn’t about to suggest nonsense.
We had, after all the Indians had left, gone to an Indian restaurant. Discussions were about spicy food, language and Europe.
On Monday I stuck around for the irc meeting and afterwards went home.
It was lovely to meet everyone individually, and each singular conversation I had, had been lovely, but this is really one of those situations where I really need to learn to take more breaks and not be too angry at myself for that. I hope to meet everyone in the future again in a less crowded setting so I can actually have all the fun of meeting fellow contributors and none of the exhausting parts. The todo list we’ve accumulated is a bit daunting, but hopefully we’ll get through it together.