We all edit images to some degree. Whether it’s a simple crop or resize, or maybe just adding some text, it’s nice to have an image editor that is reliable, fast, easy to navigate and assists you in getting the job done quickly. There are a lot of fancy image editors available such as the well-known Adobe Photoshop and even the quite popular GIMP, along with many others (free and premium). These are full-fledge image editors however, and often more than what the average user needs.
Paint.NET offers the happy medium between a giant image editing program and the wimpy little Paint application that is included in Windows. In fact, Paint.NET was initially created to be a replacement for it and has grown to something much more extravagant, even being compared to big, expensive programs like Photoshop, Corel and Paint Shop Pro. Although it continues to improve and add features, it has remained easy to use by keeping its simple interface.
It would be an understatement to say that Paint.NET has good features. Paint.NET has great, fantastic, amazing features – especially considering how light it is.
Here’s a list of its most prominent specialties:
- Simple, Intuitive Interface
- Keyboard Shortcuts
- Online Community
- Updated Automatically
- Special Effects
- Variety of Powerful Tools
- Endless Action History
Simple, Intuitive Interface
It’s already been covered a couple times throughout this article – the interface is wonderful. Paint.NET uses Windows’ Aero look, which allows users who may be less familiar with image editing programs to feel right at home. It’s easy to find what you need. On the sides there are four windows – Tools, History, Colors and Layers. These can be removed and added by going to Window at the top and selecting them in the drop-down menu.
You know a program is great whenever there are literally shortcuts for everything. I am in no way a master of them in Paint.NET – however can you imagine how much more efficient you could become if you knew all of those? The great thing is that they are displayed whenever you hover over the tool and are displayed alongside the effects and commands in the drop-down menus.
Paint.NET is fast. Plain and simple. It really doesn’t matter what kind of computer you have, whether it’s a powerhouse or a desktop, or a small netbook – Paint.NET will run fast. In my experience using it, even on computers where it’s clear they have issues, Paint.NET has flourished and not had any problems itself.
Now that’s not to say that it will never crash — you can never guarantee that with any program on a computer. But you’ll be impressed. Let’s keep it at that.
It’s pretty impressive that a program like Paint.NET has a layers function. This is typically a feature that is only available in expensive, photo editing software. You should feel quite fortunate that this is available. Features like this one are what sets Paint.NET apart from the other free image editors available. If you’re unsure what layers are, they are simply a means to separate different elements in a digital image.
Paint.NET has an active online community made up of all levels of users who interact on a daily basis. This makes solving problems and answering questions that you may have quite helpful, let alone fast!
There are two other key features to the Paint.NET Forum:
There’s no doubt that both of these, combined with the backing of Paint.NET’s community, make it even more useful. Similar to how a service is often valued not only by what it is, but by the quality of customer service, a piece of software is often of more value with an active community supporting it every step of the way.
There’s no reason to worry if you have the most current version of Paint.NET – by default it checks for you. If you go to the Update Options (pictured above) you can also enable pre-release beta version updates. Remember that beta versions are typically less stable than other versions, so keep that in mind.
If you’d like to manually check updates, simply go to the Utilities drop-down menu and click “Check for Updates.” It will scan for any new updates.
To view additional options (although few) like enabling beta version updates, click “Options.”
There are a plethora of effects that you can do with images in Paint.NET and I certainly can’t list them all. That said, they range from enhancing images with blurring or red-eye removal to adjustments to tweak the image’s contrast and color tone.
Below are a few examples of how special effects can completely change an image.
Soften Portrait Effect:
Pencil Sketch Effect:
Variety of Powerful Tools
Paint.NET doesn’t just stop at special effects. There is a great assortment of tools from the Gradient tool, new in version 3.0, to the Recolor tool. There are many tools at your disposal and the best way to become familiar with them is to simply play around and discover all they can do. But, remember that there are tutorials to help you as well.
Endless Action History
For each action done to an image, a history is stored. Not only is there unlimited history, but also unlimited “undo’s” and “redo’s.” It’s always frustrating when you make a mistake and have to go back and fix it, only to find that it can no longer be undone. This solves the problem.
This is probably the best part! Being free is the icing on the cake.
Paint.NET is hands down, one of the best, if not the best image editor in its class. It breaks down the barrier between a simple image editor and giant image editing software, without breaking your wallet or your computer. For more examples on what Paint.NET can do, check out the screenshots.
Do you use Paint.NET? How has it been useful for you? Or if you don’t like it and prefer another program, tell us why.