While Adobe Photoshop continues to be the gold standard for image creation and editing, it has two barriers to entry that make it an unattractive choice for many users — cost and difficulty. Photoshop is a tough beast to master, with lots of features and options that most users probably never need.
If Photoshop isn’t for you, you’ll need to look into alternatives. You can try GIMP if you want professional-grade features without paying a fee, but it’s still a hard choice for users to learn. That’s where Paint.NET comes in, providing a free, powerful, and easy-to-use Photoshop alternative for Windows users.
If you want to scratch your designer’s itch, this Paint.NET beginner’s guide will help you get started.
What is Paint.NET?
As the name suggests, Paint.NET was created as a replacement for Microsoft Paint. Paint is a straightforward tool for simple tasks, but it’s not something most users will want to use beyond simple scribbles.
That’s where Paint.NET comes in. Originally created with support from Microsoft as a potential replacement, Paint.NET is now an independent project, maintained by a single developer, with nearly identical tools and features. with GIMP and Photoshop more than its name suggests.
Paint.NET shines in its simplicity. Instead of focusing on loads of extra features, Paint.NET has a clean and simple user interface that makes it easy for users to select, create, and edit digital images.
However, if you want to create complex images, Paint.NET is capable of doing what you need — if you tweak it a little. With a strong community supporting the project with third-party plugins, you can use Paint.NET to do almost anything professional tools like Photoshop can.
Paint.NET is completely free and available for download for Windows users. For macOS and Linux users, you’ll need to consider an alternative like GIMP.
Compare Paint.NET vs Photoshop
Paint.NET and Adobe Photoshop exist to serve the same purpose, but comparing them is like comparing apples and pears. Sure, both are image editors, but they serve different markets.
Photoshop is a professional image editing tool. If there is a tool or feature for editing images, it probably exists in Photoshop, either as a core feature or as an add-on. That shows in the price, where you have to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud to use this premium software.
In contrast, Paint.NET is a completely free alternative. It’s simple to use but includes the features and tools you’d expect in a high-end editing tool, such as canvas layers, visual effects, and other adjustments.
If you want a basic tool that is easy to understand, but with various additional plugins to extend its functionality, Paint.NET is a great choice. However, for professional users, Photoshop will still be the tool you need for your work.
Create a basic image in Paint.NET
Paint.NET is available as Free downloadalthough you can support the project by buying Microsoft Store version for a few dollars. Once Paint.NET is installed, you can start using it to create basic images.
- A new canvas is created when you open Paint.NET for the first time, but you can press File > New to create a new drawing, if you need to. You can draw, edit and manipulate your images here.
- The list of different drawing tools is available in the left menu of the Paint.NET interface. This mirrors Photoshop and other editing tools, where tools are available to draw, select, fill, fill, and more. To start using any of these tools, click on them. Your cursor will change to match the tool.
- In the bottom left corner is Color wheel. This allows you to change the color of any object or tool you currently have selected. For example, if you choose text toolyou can change the color of inserted text by selecting a color here.
- If you need to resize your drawing canvas, press Image> Resizethis will allow you to change the surface area of the canvas while keeping the content the same.
- If you want to resize an existing image, press Image> Canvas Size instead of. This will scale your entire image up or down, with options to prioritize quality over image size.
- Just like with Photoshop, you can create complex images using layers. To insert a new layer, press Layers> Add New Layer. You can change your selected layer from Class in the lower right corner of the Paint.NET interface. Additional options, including those to copy or move your layer, are available from Class menu.
- Paint.NET allows you to quickly change color and brightness levels, as well as add effects such as sepia or inversion to your images. You can access these from Adjust at the top of the P Paint.NET interface.
- For more advanced special effects you need to click Effect menu. From here, you can edit your images with Photoshop-style effects like blur and distortion, as well as photo-editing filters that remove red-eye or allow you to sharpen your images.
- If you want to interact directly with the camera or scanner, you can. Make sure your scanner or camera is attached to your PC, then press File > Get to get the image and import it directly into Paint.NET for you to edit.
- If you run into problems, you can quickly revert any number of your most recently performed actions using History at the top right. Press Undo or Rework, do it again or select one of the previous actions from the list to revert to that stage.
Visual design on Windows and other platforms
Between Photoshop and Microsoft Paint exists Paint.NET, the only image editing tool many users will need to design and edit their images. With an easy-to-use interface and Photoshop style features like class available, it provides a low barrier of entry for users to create and edit images on Windows.
Paint.NET is only for Windows, so you’ll need to look at alternatives on other platforms. Basic image editing apps exist for Android and iOS, if you have a mobile device. For Mac users, Basic photo editor free like Photoscape X can help you. Or you can give Google Draw give it a try for a free, cross-platform drawing experience.
Also, be sure to check out our YouTube video where we talk about some of the different photo editing tools for Mac: