GPU Blur Effects pack for Paint.NET

Bruce Bowyer-Smith has gone to the extraordinary effort to write a pack of GPU-accelerated effects for Paint.NET. It started out with a preview discussion in Plugin Developer’s Central that eventually led to a recent “public” release over in the normal Plugin publishing section.

The pack contains GPU accelerated versions of Gaussian Blur, Motion Blur, Radial Blur, Zoom Blur, as well as a new Channel Blur.

A GPU that supports DirectCompute is required along with Windows 7, or Windows Vista SP2 with the Platform Update (it needs DirectX 11, in other words). Most recent NVIDIA and ATI/AMD cards support this, although Intel’s do not. The latter is a big reason why I have not properly pursued this for Paint.NET yet – there is no high-performance software fallback for DirectCompute. (The “reference driver” does work, but is very slow because it’s intended to render “perfectly” without any regard to performance, and is mostly useful for GPU and driver engineers to make sure they are on the right track.)

It’s interesting to watch these effects execute, because they aren’t any faster on smaller images (and often slower). However, as the size of the image increases, the performance delta becomes very dramatic. The GPU versions just don’t seem to run any slower, while the CPU-based effects quickly lag far behind. These effects are probably hindered by Paint.NETs CPU-centric rendering model, so I wouldn’t be surprised if further performance jumps are possible.

The only downside I’m seeing is that, so far, it is limited to handling images that fit within the maximum texture size that your GPU supports. On a high end video card, that means 8,192 x 8,192 pixels (IIRC).

Paint.NET v4 gets a Settings dialog

I’ve said for a long time that I didn’t want a “Settings” dialog in Paint.NET. I honestly felt that providing as few settings as possible, as well as reasonable defaults for the ones that did exist, was the best way to go.

However, it’s finally to the point where it actually makes sense to consolidate the few settings that Paint.NET has into a proper Settings dialog. This also opens up the ability to easily add new settings where it makes sense.

Here’s a preview:

The “Choose Tool Defaults” dialog will also be folded into this.

I’m using IndirectUI to auto-generate and auto-databind most of this. This is the same system that is used for most of the effect and file type configuration UI as well. It’s a versatile system and is saving me a lot of time. Getting the new application settings system (the data and storage model) up and running has taken a bit of time, but adding any new setting or settings section only takes a few minutes. The dialog here didn’t take much time at all, either.

Effect plugins will be able to query the “Default Quality Level” setting and apply it as they see fit, along with any other settings that end up being pertinent.

Oh, and I’m using DirectWrite to render all of the text now. It works really well, looks great, and is configurable (if you prefer the “GDI Classic” mode, well then just change the setting). Even the buttons are no longer using GDI+, and also have the animations that “real” buttons in the rest of Windows have (this is a change throughout Paint.NET, not just in the Settings dialog).

As usual, the icons are from the excellent Fugue Icon set.