Friday, December 24, 2004

Microsoft Paint + .NET = nice free Photoshop alternative

Direct download (mirror)

Paint.NET is a free open-source image manipulating program written in Microsoft's C# programming language (meaning you'll have to install the .NET Framework first). The program is actually a Microsoft-supported school project created by Washington State University students. The original team has left, but another batch of students has taken over to further improve the program.

Paint.NET features basic image-editing and drawing tools, Photoshop-like image layers, an unlimited History, quite a few image effects, and a very clean and attractive interface.

After fiddling with it for a few hours, I must say that the "free replacement for MS Paint" description is way too modest. In fact, if Microsoft really did replace Paint with this in future versions of Windows, I bet more than a few Windows users wouldn't bother buying Photoshop, anymore. Of course, Paint.NET isn't even near advanced enough for hardcore Photoshop users (if that's what you want, you might want to try Gimp, which also started as a college project), but the typical amateur digital photographer is better off with something simpler (yet advanced enough to be Slashdotted), faster, and free.

Now, if only it had a magic-wand tool...