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Paint.NET is fine for what it\’s intended but no Gimp killer

Paint.NET got Slashdotted today (here’s a list of mirrors ) and instantly it was hailed as the killer of Gimp, Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and probably every other graphics program ever made.

Of course I had to try it out immediately.What I quickly found was a very capable replacement for the venerable, miserable Paint that comes with Windows (which isn’t even as good as some of the type-in paint programs for the C-64 from the late 1980s) with a handful of high-end features bolted on and a user interface that makes most things reasonably easy to find.

Its lasso tool is extremely intuitive and it, as well as the other selection tools, highlight what you’re selecting as you’re doing the selection. That’s a huge plus. It has some nice filters built in too. For what I do, I can think of practical uses for the included “Frosted Glass” filter. Others will enjoy the oil paint filter. Most people will find both of them to be fun.

It lets you zoom way in on your work, which at times is exceptionally helpful.

Some people will find the layers tool very useful and it makes them pretty easy.

But Gimp killer? No. Paint Shop Pro killer? Maybe for some people.

For people who want to do something other than crop a digital picture, sharpen it a little and maybe add an effect and some text, it still has some serious limitations.

For one, you can’t make custom patterns. For me, that’s a showstopper. The included patterns are nice but sometimes I need to make a pattern out of a photograph so I can make something photorealistic. Gimp lets me do that. Paint.NET does not.

If you can make the paint bucket fill an area with a pattern, I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Either this feature–which I use constantly in Gimp–is missing or it’s buried somewhere that this dumb journalist can’t find it.

Don’t get me wrong. As a replacement for Paint to do simple tasks, it succeeds. But don’t call it a Photoshop killer, a Gimp killer, or a Paint Shop Pro killer. It’s all the paint program some people need.

But it’s better than those other programs in the same way Notepad is a better word processor than Word or WordPerfect. Sure, you can’t get any easier to use than Notepad. But did you need fonts? Spell check? Margins?

I recommend downloading and installing Paint.NET, as it’s not terribly large and, even if you don’t use it as your only paint program, you may find yourself loading an image into it to use a couple of its tools that you like before taking the image back into a more powerful editor. Just don’t call it something that it’s not.

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