In the latest update, I changed the canvas background in Paint.NET so that it was a solid color instead of a grey gradient. The rationale for this change was based on a comment made by forum member "mkidd":

"The top-to-bottom grayscale gradient on the desktop area of Paint .NET (3.30 in my specific case) can cause serious toning misjudgments. I didn’t fully appreciate this until a colleague pointed out how much it was throwing him off, i.e. printed results didn’t seem to match on-screen results due to improper relative corrections applied to the top and bottom areas of images, say sky vs. ground. It seems that the plain uniform gray background in Photoshop is actually pretty important."

I agreed. So, I changed it to a solid color and got rid of the gradient. The color I used is based on a system color — in fact, it’s a 50% blend between SystemColors.Control and SystemColors.ControlDark. This produces mostly good results, but apparently there are some custom color schemes where it looks downright awful. The first person to really express a passionate opinion about this was Jelle Mees (forum name), who wrote a forum post about it, and included a screenshot:

In Vista, I think it looks pretty good:


Here is how it looks in XP with the Luna / Olive Green theme:

Similarly, I think it looks fine in the other built-in XP themes, especially "Classic". I was trying to honor the system color choices, but a few other forum members have expressed a very strong opinion that the canvas background should be a static (or configurable) color that is not based on the system theme.

It got me to thinking, and I realized that I didn’t fully parse the original statement about the gradient versus a plain gray background. In fact, I’m now convinced that basing the canvas background on a system color is a bad thing. The reason for this has to do with color calibration between systems: if the canvas background is grey on one system, but off-white/yellow on another, then it could throw off a person’s perceptions of colors between the systems. Or, two different people on two separate but differently configured systems would perceive colors differently (all else being equal of course, such as the monitors’ color reproduction). Gray is a neutral color, and won’t have much of a radiosity effect than colors with hue.

Well, what do you think? Is the new canvas background in 3.35 ugly? Would you rather it be a solid gray on all systems regardless of theme, such as in the Vista screenshot above?

In the forum post mentioned above, I have made a available a replacement PaintDotNet.Core.dll that sets the canvas background to #c6c6c6 regardless of the system theme. If you’d like, you can try it out before commenting! That DLL will not work in future versions of Paint.NET, however.