Free and simple painting program
Drawing and painting have always been very popular hobbies, but with the rise of consumer culture, the demand for professional artists have also increased. As a result, professional art tools have also become more sophisticated. There are many examples of powerful digital illustration software such as Photoshop and Manga Studio which can all dazzle painters with the large selection of features they possess to render gorgeous images. However, for artists just starting out, it's always a good idea to try out simple and cheap tools first before moving onto expensive ones. Paint.Net is a multimedia freeware that beginners can use to test the waters, but is it a good painting and design software in general?View full description
- Well-designed interface
- Support for layers
- Unlimited history log
- Includes lots of filters and effects
- No pressure sensitivity support
- Slow response with graphics tablets
- Limited transformation options
- Not for professional use
Drawing and painting have always been very popular hobbies, but with the rise of consumer culture, the demand for professional artists have also increased. As a result, professional art tools have also become more sophisticated. There are many examples of powerful digital illustration software such as Photoshop and Manga Studio which can all dazzle painters with the large selection of features they possess to render gorgeous images. However, for artists just starting out, it's always a good idea to try out simple and cheap tools first before moving onto expensive ones. Paint.Net is a multimedia freeware that beginners can use to test the waters, but is it a good painting and design software in general?
A Brief Introduction
Paint.net was originally developed by Rick Brewster as his computer science project for Washington State University in the spring of 2004. In its earliest versions, Paint.net was also open-source which meant other users can take the existing code written by Rick Brewster in order to modify or create their own code. However, since it was still operating under a different version of the MIT License, Paint.net was subject to multiple violations of its usage terms. As a result, Paint.net’s resources were heavily restricted until it ultimately went closed-source. On November 6, 2009, Rick Brewster and company released Paint.net version 3.5 and with it, the new license stating Paint.net’s code can no longer be modified to create derivative works.
Installation and Interface
Even after Paint.net’s closed-sourcing, it still continued to be freeware, which means users don’t have to purchase the product in order to use it. Installing Paint.net is a simple and uncomplicated process. Just download the installer file and run it. All of the necessary files and resources will be extracted from the installer and automatically installed.
Paint.net has an intuitive interface, and it can be adjusted to fit the needs of the users. The workspace comprises the largest part of the screen. At the top, you have three menu bars. The first menu bars have actual menus such as File, Edit, View, Image, Layers, Adjustments, and Effects. Clicking on these menus will show a drop-down list of options for image editing. The second menu bar has toolbar icons that serve as shortcuts for the most important user commands. Finally, the third menu bar has additional options for the tool that you are currently using.
Across the workspace, Paint.net has four additional windows that can be moved, adjusted, or even closed according to the user’s preferences. First, there is a toolbar window containing the 20 tools that Paint.net features. The tools are divided into seven categories: Selection, Move, View, Fill, Drawing, Photo, and Text and Shape tools.
Selection tools consist of the Rectangle, Lasso, and Ellipse selection tools which are used to select areas with defined shapes. There's also the Magic Wand Tool that instantly selects areas with similar colors. The two Move tools are the Move Selected Pixels which moves selected pixels or layers and the Move Selection which moves the selection outline. View Tools change the viewing area of the user, and these tools are the Zoom and Pan tools. The two Fill tools, Paint Bucket and Gradient, can be used to fill large areas in the workspace with color. There are three Drawing tools: Paintbrush, Eraser, and Pencil. The difference between the Paintbrush and Pencil tools is that the Pencil tool deals more with individual pixels than simulating brushstrokes.
Photo Tools include the Color Picker, Clone Stamp, and Recolor Tool. Finally, The Text and Shape Tools include the Text Tool, Shapes Tool, and the Line/Curve Tool.
History, Colors, and Layers
The other three windows on Paint.net are the History, Colors, and Layers windows. The History window lists all of the user’s past actions so that they can go back easily if they make a mistake. One of the best things about Paint.net is the unlimited history logs, so users won’t have to fear of making mistakes because, with just a single click, they can go back to a previous state. Both the Colors and Layers windows are pretty standard. The Layers window actually lacks many of the expected options you’ll find on other software like Photoshop, but some of them can be located in the menu bar.
Thanks to its compact size and minimalist features, Paint.net has great performance in terms of speed, responsiveness, and controls. Additionally, users are free to download and install plug-ins to add more features to Paint.Net and make it even better.
Paint.net supports special effects for rendering such as blurring, distortion, noise, sharpen, embossing, and more. Users can make color adjustments to their images such as changing the image’s brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, and levels.
Despite all of these great features, Paint.net does have one major fatal flaw that prevents it from being a go-to low-budget alternative to digital illustrators. This flaw is its lack of pressure sensitivity support. In fact, it doesn’t seem to support graphics tablets at all. For anyone who’s into digital illustration, this is a massive blow against Paint.net. Most digital art, whether illustrations or photo-manipulations are done using graphics tablets, so not having tablet support and pressure sensitivity would render it useless for most artists.
Could Have Been Great
As a replacement for MS Paint, Paint.net is certainly a step-up. It has layer support and is compatible with a large selection of plug-ins that make it customizable and easy to use. However, the lack of pressure sensitivity and tablet support is a massive problem with it. This feature is an absolute must for any art or drawing software in order to properly simulate the feeling of drawing traditionally. If you deal with pixel art or simple photo-editing, Paint.net would serve your needs well. On the other hand, if you need to actually paint and draw digitally then give Paint.net a pass.