I’m a pen fetishist. Whenever I go to a store that sells pens I can just browse it forever. Like a kid in a toy store. Finding that perfect pen that makes my drawing a little better. Trying out grips and nibs.

There is this free open source application that I use a lot called MyPaint,which basically is a pen synthesizer. I can actually use it to create my own pens. Pens that behaves just the way I want (and ways a real pen can’t). I can of course create brushes and erasers and everything else as well. It works with procedural brushes which makes it possible to edit all the settings. It is however quite difficult to create brushes from scratch because of the huge number of settings you can alter so I usually just tweak brushes that other people made. There is a pdf document on how to create brushes with MyPaint here created by the gifted artist Ramón Miranda.

It’s easy to install brushes made by other artists. You just download the brush set (a zip file) and right click over the brush sets in the brush selector window. Choose import brush package and choose the zip you downloaded. There’s some brushes here to download. I mainly use the brushes created by Luovatone (Tone) and David Revoy (Deevad).

The interface is really minimal and very “shortcuts based”. It works great. After awhile I found myself trying to use the shortcuts of MyPaint in other software because they made so much sense. I actually prefer MyPaint over proprietary software like ArtRage and other natural media software. Not because it’s free (gratis) but because it’s more fun to work with. So download it and give it a try (you should use this with a tablet though).Works with Linux, Mac and Windows.