Food for Thought: Testing out Fire Alpaca

Good evening everyone and welcome to a quick bite of some Food for Thought. Tonight we’ve got something very special to show you all: a new, and (For the moment) free art program called Fire Alpaca. It’s been advertised around tumblr as a mix between Paint Tool Sai and Photoshop and is a boon for Mac users who have been SAI-less for the last few years because it’s Mac compatible!

Could this be the new face in digital paint tool?

So how does this fiery camildae hold up to the hype surrounding it?

Well, the download link has just recently been passed around to mixed reviews. The mix of love-hate is understandable; Fire Alpaca is essentially the “bare bones” of a Sai-Photoshop mix, with only a few tools and options available. However, there is a lot of potential for a program like this–especially to those Sai-starved Mac users out there on the net.

Interesting to note is that the start-up is very fast and it (apparently) takes up little CPU; none of the long Photoshop or Painter load-screen wait-time here. You have the basics (Layers, paint bucket, all that jazz), and a neat snap-grid option at the top left to possibly help with perspective/grids if you’re into that, but otherwise it’s basic or rather intuitive (If you’ve been using art programs often) to figure out what does what.

There are only a few tools available: a pen, pencil, brush, two airbrushes, watercolor, a blur tool, and an eraser. The pen is nice, and with pen pressure it feels like a G-pen, going from thin to thick depending on pen pressure and creating nice strokes and curves. The pencil tool stays the same size and pen pressure manipulates transparency; push down harder, more opaque lines. The two airbrushes work like the pen and pencil; the first airbrush is like the pen, but with a blurred edge, and the second airbrush works like the pencil, hold down harder for a more opaque fill. Then there’s the watercolor tool which is pretty self-explanatory; for those of you who use tegaki it actually feels like the tegaki version, so it was familiar to manipulate. And well, everyone knows what an eraser does.

My only complaint, really, would be towards the blur tool. It’s not like a “smudge” tool that could be used for blending colors, but it literally just blurs lines together and not combine them.

Yes they say “pencil test”, I flip-flopped the pen and pencil for a second until it clicked. “8.5 pencil” was done in the pen tool, “10 pencil” in the pencil tool

So after doodling around to test pen pressure on a few of the tools, I decided to give Fire Alpaca another test by coming up with a quick speed-paint — cue the digital-painting-montage:

Undersketch of my favorite god of mischief: The pen tool responds nicely to my tablet’s pen-pressure, however, other users have expressed concern over the pen-pressure sensitivity.

Inking with the pen tool and liking the line-variation

And coloring: Tried using a bit of everything here, even the not-so helpful blur tool.

Okay, not the best kid!Loki on the face of the planet, but it was fun!

As I said before, working in Fire Alpaca is very intuitive for the art-program savvy and is rather quick to pick up on. It’s definitely less intimidating than opening up Photoshop for the first time, and while I cannot speak for the “just like Sai” slogan that’s been going around, I will say that for me, it feels like a souped-up tegaki board. Not that there is anything wrong with that, per say, just that it’s a neat little free program, and will probably be a good alternative for the budding digital artist who can’t get a hold of Photoshop or Sai.

Also, there is the option to “Add Brush” so, for those hopeful for Fire Alpaca to improve on its basics, there is a chance yet!

For now, though, it’s a fun and blessedly free program that will–hopefully–expand in the future.

And, while I have the chance to draw for MoarPowah, let’s end this article with one of the site’s impromptu mascots:

And with that, tune in next week for another tasty bit of Food for Thought~

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Fenrir

A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

Latest posts by Fenrir (see all)

Fenrir

A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

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