How to Add References in Krita: A Comprehensive Guide

A Step-by-Step Tutorial to Enhance Your Krita Experience

Are you looking to elevate your artwork in Krita by incorporating references? Look no further! In this article, we’ll provide you with a detailed and comprehensive tutorial on how to seamlessly integrate references into your creative process. From setting up your workspace to utilizing the various reference tools, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the world of references and enhance your artistic journey!


References serve as a valuable tool for artists, aiding in the development of their skills, accuracy, and creativity. By using references in Krita, you can gain inspiration, improve the level of detail in your artwork, ensure correct proportions and perspective, and enhance your understanding of lighting and shadows. Now, let’s delve into the world of how to add references in Krita with our comprehensive guide.

1. Prepare Your Workspace

Creating a conducive workspace is vital when working with references in Krita. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Open Krita and create a new canvas or open an existing project.

Step 2: Arrange your windows and toolbars for easy access to the reference images. You can customize the layout according to your preferences using the “Dockers” option under the “Settings” menu.

Step 3: Consider utilizing multiple monitors to enhance your workflow. By dedicating one monitor solely to reference images, you can have a larger workspace for your artwork.

Step 4: Ensure your canvas size is suitable for accommodating both the artwork and references. You can adjust the canvas size by going to the “Image” menu and selecting “Canvas Size”.

2. Importing Reference Images

Now that your workspace is ready, let’s explore how to import reference images into Krita:

Step 1: Go to the “Reference” tab located in the top menu bar and click on it. This will open up the Reference Docker.

Step 2: In the Reference Docker, click on the “Add Image Reference” icon or select the option from the dropdown menu.

Step 3: A file explorer window will appear, allowing you to browse and select the desired reference image from your computer. Choose the image and click “Open” to import it into Krita.

Step 4: Once imported, the reference image will appear as a layer in the Reference Docker. You can drag and drop the reference image within the Docker to rearrange its position.

Step 5: To adjust the position, size, and opacity of the reference image, select the layer in the Reference Docker and use the Transform tool (Ctrl + T) to manipulate it as needed.

3. Utilizing the Reference Docker

The Reference Docker in Krita serves as a powerful hub for managing and organizing your reference images. Here’s how to make the most of it:

Step 1: If the Reference Docker is not visible, go to the “Settings” menu at the top and select “Docker”. Then, ensure that the “Reference Images” option is checked.

Step 2: To add more reference images to the Docker, simply drag and drop them from your computer into the Docker window. You can also use the “Add Image Reference” option within the Docker itself.

Step 3: As your collection of reference images grows, organizing them into different folders can help maintain a clutter-free workspace. To create a folder, right-click within the Docker, hover over “New Folder”, and enter a name for the folder.

Step 4: To move reference images into folders, simply click and drag them to the desired folder. This will help you find and access specific references easily.

Step 5: Experiment with blending modes, filters, and transformations to optimize the appearance of your reference images. Right-click on a reference image layer and select “Properties” to access these options.

4. Mirroring References

In some cases, you may need to work with symmetrical or mirrored compositions. Krita offers a convenient way to mirror your reference images for such scenarios:

Step 1: Select the reference image layer that you want to mirror.

Step 2: Right-click on the image layer and choose “Transform” from the context menu. Alternatively, you can use the Transform tool (Ctrl + T).

Step 3: In the Transform options, you will find buttons for horizontal and vertical mirroring. Select the appropriate mirroring option based on your requirements.

Step 4: The reference image will now be mirrored, allowing you to work with symmetrical elements more easily.

5. Using the Perspective Grid

Accurate perspective is crucial when creating realistic or architectural artwork. Krita provides a powerful Perspective Grid tool to assist you with achieving correct perspective in your compositions:

Step 1: Go to the “View” menu at the top and ensure that the “Show Assistant Tools” option is enabled. This will display the Assistant Tool Docker.

Step 2: In the Assistant Tool Docker, locate the Perspective Grid options. Adjust the settings according to your desired perspective. These options include the number of vanishing points, grid size, and line color.

Step 3: To enable the perspective grid, simply check the “Perspective” option in the Assistant Tool Docker. You will now see the grid overlaid on your canvas.

Step 4: While working, you can toggle the visibility of the perspective grid by pressing Ctrl + Shift + R, making it easier to focus on your artwork without distractions.

Step 5: To snap your brush strokes or other elements to the perspective grid, ensure that the “Snap to Assistant” option is enabled. This option can be found in the toolbar on the left side of the Krita interface.

6. Overlay Mode for Tracing

Tracing elements from reference images can be a helpful technique for achieving accurate proportions or capturing intricate details. Krita offers an overlay mode for this purpose:

Step 1: Select the reference image layer that you want to trace from the Reference Docker.

Step 2: In the Reference Docker, click on the “Lock Opacity” button located next to the reference image layer. This icon resembles a padlock.

Step 3: When the opacity is locked, create a new layer above the reference image layer. This new layer will serve as your tracing layer.

Step 4: Choose a brush or pencil tool and begin tracing the desired elements from the reference image on the tracing layer. The reference image will show through the transparent areas of the tracing layer, allowing you to align your strokes accurately.

Step 5: Adjust the opacity or blending mode of the tracing layer if needed, depending on your preferences and the level of detail you wish to capture.

7. Take Advantage of Shortcut Keys

To boost your efficiency and speed up your workflow in Krita, make the most of the available shortcut keys. Here are some useful shortcuts related to using references:

Shortcut Key Description
Ctrl + R Toggle the visibility of the Reference Docker on and off.
Ctrl + Shift + R Toggle the visibility of the Perspective Grid on and off.
Ctrl + M Mirror the selected reference image horizontally or vertically.
Ctrl + T Access the Transform tool for resizing, rotating, and positioning references.
Ctrl + G Toggle the visibility of the perspective grid temporarily (without deselecting the perspective tool).

Tutorial: How to Add References in Krita Step by Step

Now that you’re familiar with the basic concepts and tools of adding references in Krita, let’s dive into a more detailed step-by-step tutorial:

Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace

Start by opening Krita and arranging your workspace to accommodate the reference images. Follow the previously mentioned steps to ensure a conducive setup.

Step 2: Import Reference Images

Go to the “Reference” tab located in the top menu bar and select “Add Image Reference” to import the desired images into your canvas. Use the detailed instructions provided earlier to import, position, and adjust the opacity of the reference images.

Step 3: Organize References in the Docker

As you import more reference images, it becomes essential to organize them efficiently. Use folders within the Reference Docker to categorize your references. Drag and drop the images into the respective folders to maintain a clutter-free workspace.

Step 4: Adjust Image Properties

Experiment with various properties of the reference images to optimize their appearance and usefulness. Right-click on a reference image layer in the Reference Docker and select “Properties”. Here, you can explore options such as blending modes, filters, transformation, and color adjustments to enhance your reference images.

Step 5: Enable the Perspective Grid

Access the Perspective Grid tools in Krita to ensure accurate perspective in your artwork. Follow the steps mentioned earlier to enable and customize the perspective grid according to your needs.

Step 6: Mirror References if Needed

If you are working on a symmetrical composition or require mirrored elements, utilize the mirroring options in Krita. These tools allow you to easily create symmetrical artwork while referencing the original image accurately.

Step 7: Utilize Shortcut Keys

Take advantage of the vast range of shortcut keys available in Krita to streamline your workflow. Refer to the previously mentioned shortcuts and incorporate them into your creative process for maximum efficiency.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can effectively add references to your artwork in Krita and take advantage of the various tools and features the software offers.

Frequently Asked Questions – How to Add References in Krita

Q1: Can I use multiple reference images simultaneously in Krita?

A: Yes, Krita allows you to import and manage multiple reference images simultaneously through the Reference Docker. You can organize them into folders for convenient access.

Q2: Can I adjust the opacity of reference images in Krita?

A: Absolutely! In the Reference Docker, you can easily adjust the opacity of reference images. This feature is particularly useful when you need to view your artwork and references simultaneously without any distractions.

Q3: Does Krita offer any perspective correction tools?

A: While Krita does not have built-in perspective correction tools, you can manually adjust the perspective using the Perspective Grid feature. This allows you to achieve accurate perspective in your artwork by customizing the grid to match your requirements.

Q4: Is it possible to trace elements from a reference image in Krita?

A: Yes, Krita offers an overlay mode that allows you to trace elements from reference images with ease. By locking the opacity of the reference image layer and creating a new layer above it, you can trace the desired elements accurately.

Q5: Are there shortcut keys available to speed up the process of adding references in Krita?

A: Absolutely! Krita provides a wide range of shortcut keys that can significantly speed up your workflow when working with references. The previously mentioned shortcuts enable you to toggle visibility, mirror images, apply transformations, and more.

Q6: How can I resize or rotate a reference image in Krita?

A: To resize or rotate a reference image in Krita, select the respective reference image layer and use the Transform tool (Ctrl + T). The tool allows you to perform various transformations, such as resizing, rotating, and positioning the reference image according to your requirements.

Q7: Can I save my customized perspective grids for future use in Krita?

A: Unfortunately, Krita currently does not provide the functionality to save customized perspective grids for future use. You will need to recreate the grid for each project as per your specific needs.

Take Action and Unlock Your Artistic Potential

Now that you’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of how to add references in Krita, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. Incorporating references into your artwork can significantly enhance your creative process and the quality of your final pieces. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the techniques discussed:

1. Experiment with Different Reference Images

Don’t limit yourself to a single reference image. Explore a wide range of references to inspire your creativity and help you achieve your desired artistic vision. Try working with different subjects, styles, and perspectives to expand your artistic horizons.

2. Combine Multiple References

Feel free to combine multiple reference images if it helps you create a unique and captivating composition. Use the tools and features in Krita to blend and merge references seamlessly, allowing you to create something completely original.

3. Analyze and Learn from References

References not only serve as aids for replication but also as valuable learning tools. Observe and study the details, lighting, and colors in your references to gain insights into how to improve your own artwork.

4. Develop Your Personal Style

While references are beneficial for learning and practicing, it’s essential to develop your personal style as an artist. Use references as a stepping stone to find your unique aesthetic and artistic voice. Experiment and try different techniques to create something that reflects your individuality.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

Learning and growth come from trial and error. Embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve. With each artwork and reference you work with, you’ll become more adept at incorporating references seamlessly into your creative process.

6. Share Your Artwork and Progress

Don’t hesitate to share your artwork and the progress you’ve made with incorporating references. Join art communities or social media platforms to gain feedback, inspiration, and support from fellow artists. Sharing your journey can also help motivate and inspire others.

7. Keep Exploring and Expanding Your Skills

Lastly, never stop exploring and expanding your artistic skills. Continuously seek out new references, experiment with different styles, and challenge yourself with complex compositions. With dedication and perseverance, you’ll continue to grow as an artist.

Closing Words

Adding references to your artwork in Krita opens up a world of possibilities for your artistic growth. It enables you to add depth and accuracy to your creations while encouraging creativity and development. Use the step-by-step instructions, tips, and techniques provided in this comprehensive guide to take your artwork to newheights. Remember that practice and experimentation are key to honing your skills and finding your unique artistic style.

We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively add references in Krita. By incorporating references into your workflow, you can enhance your creativity, improve your understanding of various artistic elements, and create more dynamic and visually appealing artwork. So don’t hesitate, start exploring the world of references in Krita and unlock your full artistic potential!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. The techniques and features mentioned in this guide are based on the current version of Krita at the time of writing. Krita is constantly evolving, so we recommend referring to the official Krita documentation and tutorials for the most up-to-date information and specific instructions.

Related video of How to Add References in Krita: A Comprehensive Guide

Check Also

Krita How to Save Animations: A Comprehensive Guide for All Ages

Unlock Your Creativity with Krita and Learn How to Save Your Amazing Animations Are you …