Libre Arts: Weekly-ish recap — 4 May 2022

Highlights: new Krita book, GIMP is finally getting some CMYK features, there have been new releases of OpenToonz, Kdenlive, Zrythm, LSP and Noise Repellent plugins, and more.


GIMP and ongoing CMYK work

The most interesting thing going on with GIMP right now is the work by new contributor NikC and Jehan. They recently added CMYK JPEGs exporting and have three more related patches in the pipeline: correct CMYK TIFFs loading, CMYK TIFFs exporting, and a rewrite of the CMYK color selector to use the babl library.

Please note that instead of using the preferred CMYK profile the CMYK JPEG exporter will use whatever softproofing profile you told GIMP to use (not sure why you would want two different CMYK profiles, but not using the preferred profile seems like an omission anyway).

CMYK JPEG exporting

Of course, all of this does not qualify as a full-blown CMYK mode, nor do I expect there to be one eventually: the entire GIMP team have been in favor of late binding the whole time. But this is still an important step forward.

For starters, the patches will replace much of the venerable separate+ plugin that added alternative JPEG/TIFF importers/exporters rather than patching existing ones. And since GIMP has had softproofing for years, you can pretty much expect a late binding workflow to land to v3.0. Not too shabby!


Inkscape v1.2 is close

There’s probably just a few more weeks till the Inkscape team delivers the annual major update. Version 1.2 is coming with multi-page support, smart guides, combined Layers/Objects dialog, redesigned Export dialog, and so much more.

Meanwhile, new features are already accumulating for v1.3 release some time in 2023 presumably. The most exciting feature so far is optional OpenGL canvas contributed by contributor PBS.


CAD Sketcher update

Hlorus recently renamed the Geometry Sketcher add-on for Blender to CAD Sketcher and made it available on Gumroad to fund his work on it.

All I can really say about the changes in the past few months is I don’t even know where to begin — there’s just so many changes and improvements and new features. Just give it a spin, will you? 🙂 Something I’m sure you will appreciate is documentation that is also available now.

And if you are completely new to this, Architecture Topics got you covered:


OpenToonz 1.6

This is an update from ca. 1 month ago, but it wasn’t discussed much online. The release notes is really impressive: linear transfer function option for all layer blending modes, OpenEXR importing/rendering, 30-bit display support, X-sheet zoom control, TVPaint JSON export, multi-thread FFmpeg-based rendering, Lock Alpha for bitmaps, and more. Here is an overview by Darren T:


Kdenlive 22.04

I can wax lyrical about effect templates, or HiDPI support, or OpenTimelineIO improvements all I like. The most welcome change — to me — is the initial 10-bit support, sans effects for now. That’s the really important thing. If you shoot to log, there’s just no point in capturing 8-bit, you don’t really get all the benefits of a linear transfer function. But until recently, very few NLEs on Linux could manage 10-bit. I’m glad Kdenlive is joining their ranks.

See here for the entire release notes.


Olive

Yes, that one NLE that just can’t seem to reach v0.2 release milestone 🙂 Quite a few important changes lately: markers rewrite, audio recording tool reimplemented, text options now available right on the sequence preview. Here is my quick and dirty demo:

By the way, if you keep the defaults for marker settings, which means that the end time would be the same as the start time, the marker will be visually the same as before: just a bookmark-shaped little thing. OTOH, marking a whole range is really convenient. You can color-code entire ranges in red with a ‘FIXME’ label to make notes of problematic areas in a sequence.

The snapping system has also been reworked and improved, but so far I have been unable to tell the difference. It just works nicely, same as before.


Zrythm

I know it’s been two months since my last recap, and there’s a new pre-release of Zrythm every week, so let’s focus on just the last two. There’s still plenty of new stuff to mention.

The most user-visible change is the use of libpanel for docking. It works just like in anywhere else. You grab a docked panel, drag it, and all possible docking target get highlighted to give you a hint.

Then there’s a new exporting dialog:

The latest update also got more bundled plugins: Flanger, Phaser, Wah4, Triple Synth, Parametric EQ, Highpass Filter, Lowpass Filter, Peak Limiter, White Noise. On top of that, all bundled plugins got vectorization optimizations.

Finally, Zrythm can now export AIFF, AU, CAF, and W64 files.


Ardour

There’s a lot of under-the-hood changes in Ardour and not many spiffy new features to show off. I’d expect there to be polishing rather than big new stuff until v7.0 is out some time later this year.

There’s just two user-visible changes in the past few weeks that I can think of. You can now set default visible note range for MIDI tracks (because someone requested that in the forum). And then, as the result of updating the code for FFmpeg 5.0 support, the video exporting dialog now has more options.


What’s up with Audacity

Audacity is moving to Qt/QML for user interface for v4.0, it’s pretty much a done deal. There’s some neat mockups that will eventually become code and then a release:

Not too much different from what you already know, but also kinda cleaner.

More importantly, the team has already spent a lot of time and effort implementing real-time effects. And since all of that is happening in the main development branch, I think it’s safe to say that hell is rapidly freezing over and the end is nigh it is coming in an actual release soon enough.


MuseScore 4.0 alpha

The team recently dropped the alpha release of v4.0, without the new sampler and the orchestra library for now, but with new UI and some VST3 support and, which is really important, a number of engraving improvements.


LSP plugins 1.2.0

Vladimir Sadovnikov released a much anticipated major update of LSP plugins, a very nice suite of LV2s and VST2s (and standalones) mostly aimed at mixing and mastering. Changes are: redesigned user interface, UI scaling support, improvements and fixes all around.

LSP Compressor from v1.2.0

All the downloads are on GitHub.


Noise Repellent 0.2.x

Luciano Dato rewrote the entire Noise Repellent plugin available in LV2 and thus usable from within Ardour, Zrythm etc. All DSP code has been moved to a new library called libspecbleach, adaptive and manual capture parts have been separated into two plugins, both with mono and stereo versions.

Noise Repellent 0.2.1

Native builds are available for Linux, macOS, Windows. See the 0.2.0 release tag page for a list of big changes.


New Krita book

Wesley Gardner published a book on Krita in English with Packt Publishing.

Rather than writing an intro guide to the program, Wesley generally sticked to the topic of workflow improvements. So it’s more about using layers and various color tools efficiently and customizing Krita. If that’s something of interest to you, definitely check it out!


Artworks

Sylvia Ritter’s ‘Skullship Robo Repair’ piece made with Krita won the 2nd place in the Paint Over Fast Competition at Revision 2022.

Sylvia Ritter, Skullship Robo Repair, Krita

Chris Hildenbrand’s submission has won the Inkscape 1.2 splash screen contest:

Chris Hildenbrand, Inkscape

Miguel Lobo, “Kokuro”, made with Blender:

Kokuro by Miguel Lobo

As PayPal is temporarily unavailable to me, donations via PayPal.me, Liberapay, and Patreon are pretty much unavailable either. I humbly suggest that you redirect your funds to any trustworthy charity of your choice.

Libre Arts: Weekly-ish recap — 26 January 2021

Highlights: new releases of Scribus, Flameshot, Surge, ZynAddSubFX, Zrythm, Giada; Audacity resurrects real-time effects, Ardour gets cue markers.

Flameshot 11.0

This application for taking and editing screenshots has creeped into my life on its many tiny legs and nested there. So I’m happy to say a new version is now available.

The most interesting changes are:

  • More CLI options, if that’s the way you roll.
  • Thickness of tools can now be set with the keyboard. Simply type a numerical value like “15” and you will see the indicator in the upper left corner of the screen.
  • Text alignment can now be set in the side bar.

Scribus 1.5.8

There are pretty much no fancy new features in the new Scribus release. Almost all changes are minor improvements, fixes, and internal cleanup. The only new feature is being able to apply table and cell styles from the style manager and better undo/redo coverage for editing tables.

Inkscape UI updates

Martin Owens added a ‘split non-intersecting path’ feature and moved all toolbox buttons into categorized flow boxes. So now you can resize the toolbox and get a Krita-like multi-column setup. Here is my recent video that starts with this feature:

Parth Pant appears to be sticking with the project after successful participation at Google Summer of Code last year (he’s the same person who implemented alignment snapping aka smart guides). He recently patched Inkscape to show all possible drop zones when dragging a dockable window.

Mike Kowalski redesigned the part of the documents settings dialog where you set up the page. This is now way cleaner and easier to use.

New page settings tab in Inkscape

As usual, there’s interesting ongoing work. Martin Owens is resurrecting the updated export dialog from last year’s Google Summer of Code program. His patch adds support for multiple pages exporting. Here’s a video:

PBS has been working on a patch that improves performance when panning and zooming. The results are rather impressive as you can see in a video posted in that merge request. However there are some regressions, so more work is required.

Blender Geometry Sketcher

This Blender add-on by hlorus for 2D drafting with constraints (using SolveSpace’s solver library) has been gaining attention in the past few weeks. It’s also rather actively developed. There’s all sorts of improvements:

  • new constraint (ratio),
  • better UX/UI (elements highlighting on hover to select and delete etc.),
  • an initial entity and constraint browser in the sidebar.
  • …and more

FreeCAD Arch/BIM report

Yorik van Havre posted an update on everything going on in his domain at FreeCAD which is architecture and BIM. If this is something that interests you, do check it out. Here are the highlights:

  • The Axis object can now be used to make section marks, and it’s supported by both TechDraw and DXF exporting. That makes Draft/Arch output 100% supported in DXF files and on TechDraw pages.
  • Conversion utilities dxf2dwg and dwg2dxf from the commercial version of QCAD can now be used to import and export DWG files. Both other options, proprietary ODA Converter and FOSS LibreDWG, are still (and will continue to be) available.
  • A new Markdown-based documentation system is now gradually replacing the old Mediawiki-based setup. For now, you have an option which one to use.

Meanwhile, Amritpal Singh released Reinforcement workbench v0.3 with two new tools: Footing Reinforcement Tool and Slab Reinforcement Tool. See here for a Patreon post.

In related news, Dimitar recently put FreeCAD through a real-life case, it and performed fairly decently:

Kdenlive update

Here are some notable changes that arrived to this non-linear video editor recently:

  • UX improvements for the zoombar.
  • Massive speedup on project load, tested mostly on NFS.
  • Kdenlive will now show loading progress in the status bar when many clips are added to the project.
  • Better support for clips with variable frame rate (interestingly, the same has been going on in Blender’s VSE lately).
  • Monitor zooming got a bunch of improvements such as more zoom level steps and more convenient centering of the view when zooming in.
  • Kdenlive now also ships a few LUT files by default, including one for the infamous teal-orange color grading.

Olive update

Matt published an update for the work done throughout most of 2021. The post on Patreon is locked to subscribers, so if you aren’t one of the, here’s the gist of it:

  • Most work was spent on laying better foundation for future work.
  • Better node UI + node groups
  • Keyframe and audio waveform optimization
  • PortAudio instead of Qt Multimedia
  • Node “table” to overview input/output for nodes
  • Channel selection coming soon
  • Stability is now top priority

Most recently, Matt improved the ripple delete feature (it got confused by long audio files in the node tree) and implemented deleting tracks and deleting all empty tracks (right-click on track header to access either). He also added audio device selection (without settings for now).

Current work in the progress:

  • Better UX/UI for markers (caption visible on the ruler, renaming, and more)
  • Bezier curves as part of the polygon node
  • More nodes (some are landing to the main repository this week already)

There’s more exciting stuff going on but it’s mostly coming from first-time contributors, so I’m just being cautious here.

Surge XT 1.0.0

Paul Bacon et al. have finally released JUCE-based version of the Surge synth now called Surge XT.

Porting to JUCE resulted in numerous changes and improvements like providing a standalone version and supporting screen readers for visually impaired users. The entire plugin layer and all UI components had to be completely rewritten, but you still get a few familiar skins in this release, and there will be more soon enough, I’m sure.

Surge XT 1.0.0

There are more changes than that, of course. Here’s a short version:

  • New patch navigation system, with built-in search and marking patches as favorite.
  • A crapton of modulation improvements, including a new Modulation List overlay and a formula modulator based on LuaJIT.
  • Lots and lots of new keyboard shortcuts.
  • Lots of microtuning improvements, including improved tuning interface from Tuning Workbench Synth.
  • Several new effects: Spring Reverb, as well as Mackity, MackEQ and Chamber (all three from Airwindows).
  • Patch sets from 12 more musicians.

I’m surprised they say they don’t distribute an LV2 plugin because, in fact, they do (it’s inside the deb package), and it’s the only way to run Surge at any zoom level below 175% in Ardour — the VST3 version refuses to go lower than that.

For a full list of changes please see here.

The team is already working hard on v1.1.0.

ZynAddSubFX 3.0.6

This is the first new release of the softsynth in almost since 3 years.

Zyn-Fusion 3.0.6

Here are the most important changes:

  • Enhanced watchpoint system for waveform views (GSoC 2019 project)
  • New antialias mode to add synth oscillator interpolation
  • 14-bit NRPN support for automation
  • New Tanh, Cubic, and Square distortions with additional shaping
    parameters
  • New ‘smoothing’ filter parameter
  • New LFO features: fade in, optional ‘LPF’ filter
  • Add repeatable envelopes
  • New filters: Moog ladder, comb
  • BPM sync
  • Latched key mode
  • Re-enabled classic MIDI learn

Both classic Zyn and newer Zyn-Fusion source code is available for downloading, Zyn-Fusion binaries are, as usual, paid-for.

Giada 0.20

The free/libre loop machine is back with a new release. Some of the changes are:

  • Show progress bar for long operations
  • Improved rendering algorithm for sample channels
  • Always display playhead in Action Editor

Zrythm 1.0.0-alpha.28.1.x

Alexandros clearly follows the ‘release early, release often’ principle, so three new alpha releases have been out since the beginning of the year. Highlights:

  • GTK4 + libadwaita port
  • Hardware-accelerated timeline
  • DSP optimizations
  • Searchable preferences dialog
  • Fader and panner UI updated
  • Optimized MIDI events processing
  • Audition mode
  • Adaptive snapping

Ardour goes for cue markers

Most changes recently are related to clip launching one way or another. All three major contributors including Ben Loftis from Harrison are involved with this.

If I was to pick just one change, it would be cue markers. Basically you can now place a cue marker anywhere on the timeline’s ruler to toggle playback of an entire scene from the Cue page (formerly Trigger). And thus we are one tiny step closer to having Elise Trouw for Ardour brand ambassador 🙂

Audacity resurrects real-time effects

The most exciting thing going on with Audacity right now is the resurrection of real-time effects code originally written by former team member Leland Lucius. That code is currently undergoing major rewrite by Paul Licameli. The first patchset landed to the public git repo last week, the second is sitting in the review queue, and there will be more (a lot more, likely).

Please note that while you can download a CI build for your OS, you should not expect there to be any user interface for real-time effects just yet. Right now, it’s all under-the-hood work. But it looks like this feature is expected to be available in v3.2.0. Which means this year.

Tutorials

Unfa turns an epic sneeze into a nose trumpet instrument for a jazz song. Tools involved: Ardour, x42 Instrument Tuner, Autotalent, sfizz sampler. Scroll to 1:48:50 for the action 🙂

Quick and easy to follow tutorial on making Earth a little saturny using GIMP:

Here is a fun Krita tutorial by Denis Godyna on painting a fantasy landscape with flying rocks:

Artworks

Green Hills by Philipp Urlich, Krita

Green Hills, by Philipp Urlich

Snowy City, by Nevena Jevtic, Krita (also used as the featured image for the post):

Snowy City, by Nevena Jevtic

Firefly forest, by BlackCat Productions, Blender

Firefly forest, by BlackCat Productions

Animation made (or, rather, remade) with Blender: