It’s been awhile since I talked about some of the smaller features that have been implemented for Paint.NET 4.0. So, without further ado …
Light Color Scheme
Paint.NET 3.5 uses a blue color scheme. For 4.0, you can still use that but the default is now the “Light” color scheme. The differences can be subtle but change is nice to have. The light theme also uses a gray canvas background (#CFCFCF to be precise), which can be important for color matching.
Color Picker Enhancements
Ed Harvey, who wrote and has been maintaining "Ed Harvey Effects,” one of the most popular and interesting plugin packs, has contributed some more features to Paint.NET 4.0 recently. The first two are in the Color Picker and give you the ability to set the sampling size as well as whether it will sample just the current layer or the whole image:
Ed Harvey is also responsible for implementing another highly requested feature, Copy Merged. When you have a selection active, Edit->Copy will take the pixels from the current layer, while Edit->Copy Merged will use the whole image. In Paint.NET v3.5 you could do this but it required you to 1) Flatten the image, 2) Copy, and finally 3) Undo the Flatten. Paint.NET 4.0 will let you do that in one keystroke, and mirrors Photoshop’s functionality and keyboard shortcut. It also means you don’t have to wipe out your Redo history.
Tool Blending Modes
Paint.NET has always had an option to let you choose between Normal and Overwrite blending. The latter is necessary if you ever want to use anything but the Eraser tool in order to “draw transparent pixels.” This has been extended to include all of the layer blend modes, and still includes Overwrite. Currently this only works on the tools which have been upgraded to the new rendering system, namely the Pencil and Gradient tools, but all the others will be upgraded in due time. (I have already started upgrading the shape tools, for instance.)
Here’s an example comparing Normal and Xor blending modes with a rounded rectangle*:
Layer Reordering with Drag-and-Drop
In Paint.NET v3.5 you have to use the cumbersome Move Layer Up and Move Layer Down buttons to change layer ordering. Paint.NET 4.0 adds what you would naturally want to do here, namely the ability to just drag-and-drop the layers to reorder them. In addition, there are some nice animations for this and all the other things that can change the contents of the Layers window.
Whenever you have a selection active, all drawing is clipped to it. Paint.NET 4.0 can finally do this clipping with antialiasing. This results in a much smoother edge. This was actually quite simple to implement with the new rendering engine that’s in place for 4.0. (Note: Feathered selections and other gizmos are another matter entirely and will hopefully make it into a post-4.0 release without too much of a wait.)
The first option gives you the same rendering that Paint.NET v3.5 and earlier uses. The second uses 2×2 super sampling on the clipping mask, and the third uses 3×3 super sampling. I experimented with 4×4 super sampling but the improvement wasn’t very noticeable; in addition, performance went down and memory usage went up.
Here’s an example of the quality levels with a circular selection that’s had a gradient drawn inside of it:
Right now the default is Antialiased (2×2 super sampling). I’ll be doing some further experimenting, and decide whether the default should be High Quality and whether the “normal quality” option should even be present.
Anyway, that’s all for now!
* Astute readers may notice that the rounded rectangle’s corner radius does not match what 3.5 uses … yes, this will finally be configurable. Right now I’ve just got a test tool that renders a fixed size, but in short order the shape tools will get some fantastic upgrades, including configuring the corner radius for a rounded rectangle.