What? A new version of MS Paint?

very good
key review info
application features
  • Paint.NET has many of the powerful features that expensive commercial applications have, including the ability to use layers.
  • (1 more, see all...)

I have noticed that release after release, Microsoft have brought significant changes to Windows, whether it was an improvement or a drawback. But one thing remained basically unmodified: the included picture manipulation software that we all know as MS Paint.

This is a basic picture editor that doesn’t need much of a system configuration to work properly. As time flew by, various photo editing programs were released bringing new concepts to the phrase “image editor”, and called for much greater processing power in order to work decently.

But the Washington State University, along with the help of the Microsoft team have developed a replacement for MS Paint, namely Paint .NET (as the name suggests, Microsoft .NET Framework needs to be installed in order for this application to work).

Bring on the pictures!

This is a very small package (3.3 Mb) that’s able to do wonders to your pictures.

The clean and user friendly interface is completely changed. The most noticeable improvement that you’ll see when first running the program is the translucent window for the tools, color palette, history and layer that overlay with the picture you’re editing. When focusing on either one, it becomes solid, and you can select your tool or instrument. When you’re working on the picture it goes back to its translucent state, allowing you to carry on with your work, and saving space at the same time.

You also get to use the crop function, which was not available in the original version.

Layering has been introduced, allowing you to create several layers for the same picture. A correspondent Layer menu item has been added, so that you can perform more advanced editing on these items.

For each layer you can work on its adjustments, namely: auto levels, brightness/contrast, curves, black and white, hue and saturation, invert colors, levels and sepia.

If you want to make further changes to your layer, you can also use the rotate/zoom option. This is accessible over an interactive control panel, that gives you good control and live preview of your operations, whether you’re rotating, zooming or adjusting the pan of your picture. As a bonus, the rotate function has a roll option that you can use to give your layer a nice 3D effect.

Also, you can work on each layer’s properties and modify its blending mode with the existing layers, as well as the opacity.

If symmetry is an issue for you, you can use the flip horizontally or vertically function and your image will get a mirror view.

Paint.Net features a completely new concept for the older version, the effects. You can choose from: add noise, blur (Gaussian, motion and radial blur), edge detect, emboss, frosted glass, oil painting, pixelate, red eye removal, relief and sharpen. What’s even better than this is that you also get a live preview of your effects, and the rendering time is consistently small. I don’t know how the developers have managed to do this with such a small program, but it worked out great!

Another great new feature is the selection tool. Unlike MS Paint, which only has Free-form select and a simple rectangle select too, Paint.Net has six related features: rectangle, ellipse, lasso and magic wand selection, plus two manipulation tools (move selected pixels and move selection). Combined, all these result in great selecting options (for instance, you can select a rectangle area, and then choose the ellipse tool, and with the right mouse button, you can deselect a portion of your previous selection; this way you will get the shape that you want).

You now have the clone stamp feature available, which will allow you to copy portions of pixels using the paintbrush.

Speaking of which, the paintbrush is now much more complex than the older one and offers a wide range of fill styles for you to use.

The undo option is now improved, and you also get a history window. This way you can click on any of the operations that you’ve previously performed, without having to use the Ctrl+Z key combination endlessly.

The Good

This is a great program for photo editing and manipulation. The incredibly small package size and ease of use, along with the great interface make it a tough competitor to beat, even for those specialized programs that you have to pay big bucks to get. You have plenty of effects to work with, and new settings and options to change so that your pictures get that professional touch.

The Bad

The only bad thing that I can think of is the fact that you can’t optimize your pictures and save them in more formats, rather than just BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, TIFF and TGA.

The Truth

I would rate this program as a five star one, because it works really well, and all the features come as a great improvement for Microsoft’s Paint. The whole package definitely deserves maximum credit, but there are other programs with greater processing potential, so I'm going to rate it as a four star. For its package size, this is a wonder-program, as other programs that do the exact same job take up a considerably larger amount of disk space. There’s nothing more that I could say other than “Good job Washington State University and Microsoft!”

Check out the screenshots below to see the program in action:



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user interface 4
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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