GIMP / Krita / Inkscape / FreeCAD / Qucs-S / Bespoke Synth / VCV Rack / Ardour Weekly recap — 21 August 2023

Double-week highlights: new releases of Qucs-S, Bespoke Synth, and VCV Rack, progress with GIMP’s autoexpanding layers and CMYK PDF exporting in Inkscape, exciting changes in Ardour.


The most interesting bit of news is actually from late July:

As you can see, it’s unlikely that this will make it to GIMP 3.0. But thanks to this year’s GSoC we seem to be getting a pretty solid update coming probably as v3.0.2 (at least, that was the plan a while ago): both autogrowing of layers and elements of non-destructive editing, with filters attached to layers.

In more minor news, the team finally switched to OpenEXR 3 for their nightly builds (used to be v2.5.9), and CmykStudent improved the handling of single-channel EXR files with unknown channel names.

Zander Brown, a new contributor, started helping out with moving various plugins to GMenu (newer API in GTK3). Jacob Boerema is improving the metadata editor. Lloyd Konneker (the current Resynthesizer maintainer) is cleaning up older Python plugins.

GIMP export layers 4.0

This is one of the third-party scripts that I would really love to see integrated in mainline GIMP (after some UI cleanup possibly). Highlights:

  • In-place batch editing of layers
  • Exporting of multi-layer images (think animated GIFs where a top-level layer is one frame)
  • Settings can now be exported and loaded to easily switch processing configurations
  • Background and foreground layers can optionally be merged now

For more details, please see here. The caveat is that the script still seems to be relying on Python 2, so not much luck on newer distributions.


The team is wrapping up development for v5.2 release really soon (could be next week?). But there’s already ongoing work on the next major update. E.g. Alvin Wong has been improving the text tool recently, while Wolthera van Hövell has been hacking on the text backend.


Martin Owens has first humble results of writing CMYK PDFs. Lots of missing features in the output, but it’s a great start. Here’s the latest update (week two of the project):

You can support him on Patreon.

There’s more great work going on. Mike Kowalski on working on updated Swatches dialog UI. I think you are going to love this:

  • Support for reading Adobe Color Book and Adobe Swatch Exchange files
  • Support for color palettes with CIELAB colors
  • Limited support for color palettes with CMYK colors

This is very likely to be part of v1.4 (some time next year, I guess).

FreeCAD hackathon

Chris Hennes posted a very nice recap of the FreeCAD hackathon in Vancouver in mid-August. One of the projects discussed there already materialized in the main development branch:

There’s been a lot of talk about improving the UI, there’s definitely no decision whether that should involve switching to a Ribbon-like UI, but a draft implementation was proposed anyway, based on earlier work by Hakan Seven:

Draft implementation of Ribbon UI in FreeCAD

Obelisk has been attacking the UI topic from a different angle, creating a new, more pleasing icon theme. Here’s a part of the set:

New PartDesign icons

And here is the new set in the actual UI (a different workbench though):

New icons in FreeCAD

Qucs-S 2.0.0

Well out of my area of expertise, but also well worth the mention: circuit simulator Qucs-S got a new release. Two major changes are:

  • Complete Qt6 port.
  • Simple simulation engine switch in the toolbar, and you don’t need to restart the program when you do so anymore.

The installer for Windows is now also shipping with a copy of ngspice (one of the supported simulation engines). See here for more changes and download links.

Bespoke Synth 1.2.0

Completely missed this release in July, so let’s make it up to Ryan. Major new features:

  • Syncing via MTC
  • Ableton Link support
  • Timeline control for positioning
  • A pattern sequencer called ‘songbuilder’ to turn loops into songs

See here for a full list of changes and downloads.

VCV Rack 2.4.0

The regular open-source version got dark panels and a toggle in the menu for them, as well as various bugfixes. The Pro version now supports CLAP FX and generator plugins (it already supported instrument plugins). All changes and downloads are listed here.

VCV Rack 2.4.0


Paul Davis made further progress with Novation Launchpad Pro support and added a modified patch that redesigns the header for MIDI tracks.

New MIDI track header in Ardour

Three major changes are very obvious from the screenshot above:

  • New widget for zooming and scrolling the piano roll
  • Flat piano roll design
  • MIDNAM support

The patch is currently sitting in a dedicated branch, but will likely be merged to the main development branch soon.

Among other news, there are now three arpeggiator plugins in Lua shipped with Ardour, courtesy of Albert Gräf.

Not to forget the grouping of regions, at long, long last! Patch by Ben Loftis of Mixbus fame.

Regions grouping in Ardour

If the team sticks with the “one release every two months” schedule, version 7.6 should be out within a week or two.


Nick Saporito created a very nice intro to mesh gradients in Inkscape:

Stache posted an extended tutorial about creating realistic water in Blender:


George Tumanidze is stepping out of his usual interior design topic again to do a Mad Max styled dystopian future render (Blender):


Fisherman’s house by Souheil Mahmoudi (Blender), based on a real location in Ukraine:

Fisherman’s house

Newer artwork by Philipp Urlich, from a recent live stream (Krita):

In the mountains

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