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GBIC >> Software Reviews >> Paint Programs
Paint Programs      (July 2007)

Paint Programs are generally thought of as simple graphics editors, focused more on pixel editing than on editing photograhic images. Ask most folks to name a paint program and you'll probably get the answer "Microsoft Paint", which has been available in all copies of Windows.

The problem in selecting programs for review is that all graphic image editors contain many features associated with "paint" programs. So, I've had to take judgements as to which software to put in the category of paint programs and which to put into the category of image editors. The criteria, which are entirely subjective on my part, are extreme ease of use and a defined, minimum set of features.

Review Results
This review is in work. Until the review is complete, I suggest the following application for your paint program needs:

  • Paint.Net
    Paint.NET is free image editing and photo manipulation software. It has support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.

    Originally intended as a free replacement for the MS Paint software that comes with Windows, it has grown into a powerful yet simple tool for photo and image editing.

Paint Program Features
These are the minimum features that I expect from a paint program. Having more features does not necessarily make for a better paint program because as more features are added, the more that the application cannot be distinguished from a photographic image editor.

I recognize that the dividing line between paint programs and image editors is somewhat arbitrary but there is a real need for a program with intermediary features - one that doesn't take weeks of study but that can nonetheless provide needed capabilities. So here's my take on defining a paint program.

  1. Extreme ease of use (Help file not needed)
  2. Select Type (rectangle, freestyle)
  3. Select Action (move, copy/move, feather
  4. Crop
  5. Resize (image or canvas)
  6. Rotate/flip (image or selection)
  7. GIF, JPG, PNG, BMP support
  8. Color Application Tools (flood, line, brush, spray, line, free-style line)
  9. Erase (to background, color)
  10. Object Tools (rectangle, circle, rounded square, polygon)
  11. Text (standard, anti-alias, shadow, 3D)
  12. Layers support
  13. ... still in work ...

Candidate Programs
Taking into account the criteria listed above, here are the programs I'm treating as paint programs for the purposes of this review.

  1. ArtRage
  2. Artweaver
  3. Brush Strokes
  4. DogWaffle
  5. GIMP
  6. i.Mage
  7. Image Enhance
  8. ImageForge
  9. IrfanView
  10. openCanvas
  11. Paint.NET
  12. Painter25
  13. PhotoFiltre
  14. Pixia
  15. Serif PhotoPlus
  16. PhotoScape
  17. Tux Paint
  18. Ultimate Paint
  19. Vicman's Photo Editor
  1. Adobe Illustrator
  2. Adobe PhotoShop Elements
  3. Adobe PhotoShop
  4. Corel Paint Shop Pro
  5. Corel Painter
  6. Corel Photo-Paint
  7. Deep Paint
  8. MS-Picture It!
  9. NeoPaint
  10. Saint Paint Studio 12
  11. ULead PhotoImpact
User Feedback & Suggestions
I welcome any suggestions on other paint programs that should be considered, or suggestions on how better to review the selected programs.