Newest Review: ... use the software. === Using Paint.NET === The program loading time is approximately two seconds on most computers I've used, some olde... more
Member Name: TheGoodSurveyer
Advantages: Fast, efficient and rich editing features.
Disadvantages: Limited rotation fine tuning capability.
=== 2D Digital Artwork ===
Before we attempt to understand the software, we must try to understand the purpose behind it. Two dimensional graphics is simply drawing on the screen, but this can have a number of quality related properties. The digital image understood simply can be either a vector or bitmap image, vector images are made up of grid points and ranges, which can be assigned a certain colour value. This makes the image size much smaller than the bitmap images, which draw out each pixel (picture element) of data individually.
Although the software I'm about to review has certain elements, which relate to vector graphics, the software itself is designed for bitmap images. Vector file formats aren't supported. Therefore, I won't go into any further detail on vector graphics or its popular file formats and extensions. Bitmap images relate directly to digitalisation of simple artwork, and that's what this software does best. There are various bitmap compressions, which are used to save the bitmap image in a smaller format. Some types of compression cause the image to have adjustable reduced clarity; such formats include JPG and JPEG, which are classified as lossy compression. These formats make a huge difference in the stored file size. Lossless compression is becoming more widely used today, so we find an increase in GIF and PNG files where preserving quality matters.
=== .NET Framework ===
As the name suggests the software is built upon .NET framework. Understanding .NET framework isn't too difficult, as it's simply interchangeable code between difference object oriented programming languages in the Microsoft programming package. The program requires a Microsoft Visual Studio runtime to work on the computer, which bring us to a disadvantage. The runtime doesn't work so well in Linux, so running the software requires some configuration using mono.
The runtime contains all the libraries required to run the software; the program code is written in simple terms rather than in machine code, and has many code references to the libraries, which contain the complex instructions to carry out the specified commands. Without the libraries, creating software would require an enormous amount of code, and the compiled program would be much bigger and more difficult to debug. Whether a program uses Visual Studio Runtime Environment or it uses Java Runtime Environment, the concept is the same.
.NET is an upgrade to the old Visual Studio runtimes, which didn't allow code to be interchanged between difference languages. The .NET system serves as a platform for all its programming languages.
:::::::::::::::::::: [ THE PROGRAM ] ::::::::::::::::::::
=== Installation ===
I downloaded Paint.NET from dotpdn.com/downloads/pdn.html as a ZIP file (compressed folder), which contains the installation file. The installation can be run without extracting the file; directly from within the compressed folder. I chose to extract it first, delete the compressed folder and run the installation. Both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows installed the software to the %programfiles% (C:\Program Files\) directory. This is because it installed the 64 bit version on the 64 bit Windows, otherwise you'd expect a 32 bit installation to end up in the %programfiles(x86)% (C:\Program Files (x86)) directory. One installation file contains installations for both architectures.
The installation process took up to three minutes altogether. I chose custom installation, which gave an option of ten languages and if it should be the default editor for certain image files. There's also an option for automatic update checks. The installation then creates a system restore point, removes an older version if there's one installed, and installs the software.
During the installation, a message is displayed. This message says that the software is free, so if you paid for it then you need to get a refund. However, there is an option at the end of the setup process, which allows you to donate using Paypal. This is a voluntary contribution to their development team, and you may or may not wish to contribute. This makes no difference to your right to use the software.
=== Using Paint.NET ===
The program loading time is approximately two seconds on most computers I've used, some older computers take three seconds or more. Newer computers may load the program in less than two seconds, but I haven't had the chance to test it on any machine newer than 2008. I've used the program on Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32 bit and 64 bit versions). The program interface hasn't changed over the years, which is a good thing in my opinion, because this means it remains an easy to use program. It's a less advance alternative to GIMP (an open-source image editor), and has some very useful tools, brushes and effects. Paint.NET also supports layers, which enables you to add layers of images; one on-top of another.
Paint.NET has four floating toolboxes by default, which can be toggled on and off with their own shortcut keys. These toolboxes are "Tools" (toggle key: F5), "History" (toggle key: F6), "Layers" (toggle key: F7) and "Colors" (toggle key: F8). The Tools toolbox contains twenty-two tools, which you may find useful in everyday image editing. These include but aren't limited to a brush, pencil, paint box, colour picker, clone stamp and image selection. The Colors toolbox allows you to choose a predefined colour, or you can click on "More" to specify a new colour. Just like most other image editors have a primary and secondary colour for the two mouse buttons, the same applies to Paint.NET.
The History toolbox contains a list of events, which updates every time you make a change to the canvass or image. This also makes the task of undoing changes very easy, which can be accomplished by either clicking on the desired undo point in the list, or using the complete undo or individual action undo buttons. The same applies for redoing and undone action. The Layers toolbox contains a list of all the layers you add to the image, and allows you to move layers back and forward. You can also hide or delete layers, duplicate or merge layers, and you can change the layer properties.
Paint.NET's simplicity combined with its powerful tools allows you to produce some interesting images from scratch, as well as adding finishing touches to an existing piece of artwork. It doesn't always have to be complex artwork; Paint.NET is also very useful for simple tasks such as cropping pictures, which you may want to use on your social network profile. Sometimes all you want is to add some colour to a black and white picture; this task is made easy with the re-colouring tools. I've even used this program for creating posters, collages, cards, icons and logos. Quite often when scanning an image on a flatbed scanner, you find the image contains unwanted particles. I find the best way to remove them is usually by cloning and re-colouring.
For those of you aware, you're probably thinking why I mentioned icons, even though Paint.NET doesn't save files in ICO file format (standard Windows icon format). This is because it's best practice to create icons in PNG format, which keeps them in their top quality while making any changes. You can convert the image format using any free image conversion tool. Icon files come in handy if you're developing software, or a website. Icons serve the purpose to decorate and identify software; this isn't the same as a software authenticity check, which is done through hash checking. It does however allow a user to identify installed software, which may all have shortcuts in the menus and Desktop. On the Desktop for example; rather than reading all the software names, we normally do a quick visual check to find the relevant icon to click. This is why the first step of creating an icon is essential, and Paint.NET is a useful tool to achieve that.
:::::::::::::::::::: [ PROGRAM FEATURES ] ::::::::::::::::::::
=== Menus & Submenus ===
Paint.NET has the ability to acquire an image directly from a scanner or camera, which cuts out the need to install additional software. This is a very useful feature for Windows users, because it save's you the trouble of cluttering your hard drive with extra software for scanning. This feature can be found in the File menu. The other menu buttons are standard; open, new, open recent, close, save, save as, print and exit. Open recent shows a graphical list of recently used files, each with the file name on the right of the thumbnail.
The Edit menu allows complete undoing and redoing of actions, this uses the standard 'undo one action at a time' method. Cutting unlike copying, moves the selected item from one place to another. The action of completing the move or copy procedure is called Paste. You can either paste something onto the current layer, a new layer, or even a new image altogether. Erasing, filling and selecting, deselecting and inverse selecting are quite straight forward, and don't need a detailed explanation.
View allows you to zoom in and out, and allows you to zoom to fit the canvass in the window, or toggling between window fit zoom to view the accurate canvass size. You can also choose to zoom to a selected area. If you turn on the pixel grid, you must zoom in to view it; otherwise the pixels are too small to see the grid. You can also view the ruler, which you can set to show your chosen measurements, whether you want to measure in pixels, inches or centimetres.
The Image menu makes cropping easier, as well as resizing the image or the canvass. You can also flip or rotate the image. Rotating the image is limited to either rotating left or right by ninety degrees, or rotating a hundred and eighty degrees. No other rotating options are available. This is one of the drawbacks of this software, and the more complex software such as GIMP and Photoshop show where they're better than the smaller programs.
The next menu is Layers, which Paint.NET uses to show that it too is able to provide powerful tools, and not far off the league of GIMP and Photoshop. It allows to add, delete, duplicate and merge layers as well as to import images as new layers. The menu also allows flipping the current layer, and allows zooming in and out. In addition are the layer properties. These are used to rename the layer, set visibility on or off, set transparency and the layer mode.
Nine major adjustments can be made to the image; they are all in the Adjustments menu. The adjustments are: auto level, black and white, brightness and contrast, curves, hue and saturation, invert colours, levels, polarise and sepia. Four of these make automatic changes to the image, which requires no more than a click of a button, because they are states of adjustment. This means it's a Boolean position; it'll either be a yes or a no, an on or an off. In the case of images, it will either be in colour, or black and white, it can't be both simultaneously. These are: auto level, black and white, invert colours, and sepia. The other five allow you to adjust the image to a more precise specification.
The Effects menu doesn't contain any buttons, but instead has seven submenus. Each menu gives a very specific set of buttons, which allow a better application of the effects. The seven submenus are: artistic, blurs, distort, noise, photo, render and stylise. The first five and last two submenus are pretty much common sense, and you know what to expect from the names. The Photo submenu allows you to add glow effects to the image, as well as red-eye removal in a photograph. It also allows you to sharpen or soften the image.
The Utilities menu is unrelated to the artwork, and allows you to see any plugin errors, load the Windows font directory, change the language and check for updates.
The Window menu contains the four toolbox controls, which toggle the toolboxes on and off. The toolboxes are Tools, Color, Layers and History. This menu also shows a list of open images, which can be toggled through using the provided controls. It also allows minor window adjustments.
Finally, the Help menu allows you to view help topics for the program, as well as link to the developer's website, a search of the website, and a donate button. You can also find a link to the forums, tutorials, plugins, and send feedback and bug reports. If you're wondering exactly which version of the software you have installed, this menu has an about button at the end. Click it to view the details.
=== Tool, status and toggle bars ===
There are two toolbars, a status bar and one toggle bar. I'm not using the real name of the bars, because I'm not aware if they've been assigned any specific name. The toolbar with the main application and even controls, such as save, undo, and copy and paste; is below the menu-bar and above the toolbar with the image editing tools. The image editing toolbar is linked to the Tools toolbox, and has more functions added to it. An example of its use is adjusting the brush width.
The status bar at the bottom of the screen is a tool tip bar, which also shows the canvass size and cursor grid reference. The tool tips show the name of the tool being used and how to use it. The information is very concise and easy to understand, it also shows you when a tool is used where applicable.
The toggle bar at the top right hand side of the screen- is a large box under the window control buttons. This bar allows you to toggle between open files, select and close files. There's nothing else to it, as its use requires only the most basic level of computer literacy.
=== Website links ===
Home page and download:
Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts:
General contact, not for technical queries:
:::::::::::::::::::: [ CONCLUSION ] ::::::::::::::::::::
=== My Conclusion ===
I've found a large number of advantages of using Paint.NET, and very few disadvantages. The only real disadvantage, which holds any weight, is the limited functionality when it comes to rotating images. This is because, when you try to create a complex collage of images; you find it can look a bit odd at times, because it's been unable to give you more fine tuning in the rotation controls. The best solution for now is to rotate the image in a different image editor first, then insert it into the Paint.NET project.
The most important reason for using Paint.NET is its ease of use rather than its powerful features, because when it comes to powerful features; GIMP is much more advanced. Paint.NET isn't software I'd pay for, if it was to cost money. At the same time, I wouldn't stop someone donating towards it, because the program can do with a few improvements.
Looking at the software from a regular user's point of view; I believe it's a very easy program for image editing, with a good variety of features and sufficient hints to help achieve the simple tasks it's designed for. It won't clean your car or cook your food, but it'll help you edit two dimensional bitmap images. I believe this software deserves five stars, even though there's one disadvantage. This is because there are many more than eight advantages, which shift the scales above four and a half stars. This justifies the five star rating. I'm not taking Linux compatibility into consideration when rating this program; otherwise I'd be giving it a three star rating.
=== To sum up ===
I've been using Paint.NET for a number of years. I found some good and bad qualities of the program, in which the bad qualities have been reduced with the software updates. The program is free of charge, so there isn't ever a need to worry about purchasing the new version.
The program layout is very simple, and the toolboxes can be toggled on and off, so they won't become an obstruction while working on a project. The support for lossless image quality is becoming more common in image editing software, so Paint.NET isn't ahead of anyone. Only Microsoft Paint falls short when it comes to image quality, as it still doesn't support lossless editing.
Paint.NET is a great tool for the simplest of image editing tasks, which you may not feel the need to use GIMP for. These tasks include cropping pictures, red-eye removal on photographs and image resizing.
Summary: Small yet powerful image editing software.
|Variety of features:|
- Autodesk AutoCAD 2014
- Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2014
- Autodesk AutoCAD 2013 for Mac
- Corel PaintShop Pro X5 Ultimate
- PhotoDirector 4 (PC/Mac)
- Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2012
- Autodesk AutoCAD LT 2012 Upgrade
- Adobe After Effects CS5.5
- Adobe After Effects CS5.5 Upgrade
- Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium Upgrade