Paint.NET 4.0: Brushes and Shapes and stuff

Wow, it’s been awhile since I posted! Let’s see what’s new …


The new brush engine is still in its infancy so I don’t have any good screenshots I’m willing to share at this point. It fully supports “softness” which is a staple of every brush-based drawing programs other than Paint.NET (pre-4.0 Smile). I’ve found it a bit tricky to get good performance within the new rendering engine, but I’ve mostly solved how to do it right (it’s a classic performance vs. memory usage trade-off) and just need to write the actual code. The initial 4.0 release will not support custom brush shapes (“stamps”), but it should be fairly straightforward to add them afterward.

Once the brush engine is in place for the paintbrush tool, I will be able to quickly rebuild the eraser, clone stamp, and recolor tools so they can all have the same features and rendering quality.

Pressure Sensitivity?

I just got a Surface Pro, and it’s pretty slick. More importantly, at least for Paint.NET, is that it has a good Wacom-based stylus/pen with pressure sensitivity. I originally dropped pressure sensitivity in v3.5 because that part of the code was getting in the way of some very important improvements to the input system for the brush tools. That in itself wasn’t a good reason for dropping it, but I had no hardware to test with so I could be sure that I wasn’t breaking pressure sensitivity (or worse). Now I’ve finally got some good hardware for this, so 4.0 might support it, at least for Windows 8 and up since it has new APIs that provide this as a first-class input mechanism. From what I’ve looked at, it’s promising, but I’m still not sure if it’ll work the way I need it to. Cross your fingers.


I haven’t stalked about the new Shapes tool yet, which is a cornerstone of the new toolset. Instead of having one tool for each shape (rectangle, circle, etc), there is 1 shape tool and you choose your shape from the toolbar:

Once you’ve drawn a shape you’re free to move, rotate, and resize it. You can also change the shape type or adjust everything else about it (colors, brush size, etc) until you’ve committed it to the layer (and of course, “fine grained history” is fully supported). You can resize the shape using the 8 corner handles, you can move it with the "compass" handle that appears to the lower right of the shape, and you can rotate by placing the mouse between the bottom-right resize handle and the move handle. When you do that, a two-sided curvy arrow appears underneath the mouse cursor to let you know you can drag there to do some rotation:

(You can also move by dragging elsewhere, but the compass handle makes it very obvious as to where you can always drag to move it.)

The handle in the center, which I guess I call “the screw”, can be moved around and lets you redefine what a rotation will use as its center point.

This UI for the resizing, moving, and rotating is the same one that the new Move tools use. Consistency for the user + reusability for the developer = good.

Custom shapes will not be supported in 4.0, but are planned for a release soon after that (sorry y’all, gotta prioritize!). All of the shapes stuff is based on a programming model that’s nearly identical to the Geometry system in WPF/Siverlight/XAML, so once you can add your own shapes it’ll be easy to find examples online with some XAML or path markup which you can then use in Paint.NET.

Not Abandoned

Lastly, to all the people who’ve sent e-mails or left comments asking if Paint.NET is still alive: yes! I just haven’t updated the blog in awhile. I also haven’t made much progress in the last few months because I haven’t had as much time for it; the amount of time I was putting into it was burning me out a bit. But yes, it’s still alive! 4.0 is still on the way, it’s just a really large project that takes a lot of time.


81 thoughts on “Paint.NET 4.0: Brushes and Shapes and stuff

  1. Patrick Smacchia says:

    >I also haven’t made much progress in the last few months because I haven’t had as much time for it;

    You should find a way to make a living of it, and put all your passion, time and energy into this superb project. Having a free light edition and a paying affordable pro editions seems the best way for me (like all v4 new features could be advanced paying ones).

    Congratulations for this great piece of software (that I use daily) and good luck for v4 dev!

  2. Klimax says:

    So I didn’t imagine pressure sensitivity. Years ago I used it, but then damaged my tablet (cheap Genius or like that) and lost track of it. Now I got Surface Pro too (Through eBay as MS doesn’t support my country yet…) and wondered whether had it or not. (Memory can be fun at times 😉 )

  3. Dan says:

    I really liked the news about brushes. It’s so good!

    And what about porting to android/iOS by mono. I recommend you to port it, because there isn’t such good paint program as for android and iOS. There is photoshop touch, but it don’t work with plugins. So you can sell it with a price 5$, and millions people and I will buy it.

  4. Tuulikk says:

    Pressure sensitivity is for me important and is a must if Paint.Net will stay in the top 3 Image Editors I use. I think Paint.Net could become a Photoshop alternative and I could pay 30-60 USD for a Pro version. Don’t think I’m alone in this.

    It would also be nice to have a collapsible color toolbar with only color swatches to save up more room for the canvas area.

  5. someone says:

    Keep developing this awesome piece of software. I hope for a late 2013 release of the v4 but its just an estimation. Keep working on this Rick 🙂

  6. Peter says:

    Hope for new version in the spring! is a great editor,it doesn’t need more features, more effects, more adjustments…

    I don’t want to make comparisons, but like, Paint.Net is a firend of the .Net Framework, so the Pixelmator is a great friend of the OS X.

    Any dates for PDN 4.0?
    Are their going to be any surprises?

  7. JulieJulie says:

    Thank you so much for your hard work with PaintNET. You’ve given us a wonderful bit of software that brings amazing results. I recently bought a Mac and just can’t find a reasonable way to run it on that, so I have to go back to the Windows machine to use PaintNET.

  8. Kamil says:

    Woooow…wacom support 🙂 At last a step closer to photoshop way I use graphic apps 😉 Good to know that project isn’t dead. Frankly I use nearly everyday.

  9. scottie35 says:

    Woo! If it weren’t for Paint.NET, I wouldn’t do graphics. I also use it every day, and frankly I can’t imagine designing web site graphics without it!

  10. Nono says:

    Awesome. Good luck for the release!
    And take your time, we appreciate (a lot) what you do.

  11. ILa says:

    I never had a better time waiting for such beautiful gift that Paint.NET is to the world. Rick, your sneak previews make that an extra worth while. I see people requesting a port… I’d rather say: Paint.NET is a good reason to stay with Windows.

  12. ILa says:

    I suppose the Ctrl, Alt, and Shift modifier keys will not appear in future versions because of touch-screen capabilities? Otherwise, It’d be a great way to switch between translate, scale, rotate, or combinations thereof

  13. George Hofmann says:

    Just discovered this program. Very nice work. Thank you so much. Is there somewhere I can make a donation to the project?

  14. Brayden says:

    Are there any goals for release dates or anything yet?

    I’d love to have this soon, finished or not.

    It’d be great if you made a beta program, and just continually updated it.

  15. Delvian says:

    Have you thought about using Kickstarter, so you can raise funds to complete this project. Maybe use the kickstarter funds
    to hire a couple of developers.

  16. Brad Pike says:

    Hey Rick! I’m a big fan of your work. Have you thought about merging the selection tools into one icon like you have with the shapes?

    • mimocroc says:

      I’d ask for more hotkeys instead, like A = rectangle, Q = lasso, W = wand, and a “Selection Brush”.

      • Brad Pike says:

        Yeah, you’re probably right. I was thinking about adding more selection shapes, although now that I think more on it, it’s unnecessary. And as it is, there’s not enough selection shapes to warrant merging them

  17. FriendlyNeighborhoodNonArachnidBittenMan says:

    Is there any possibility at all that Paint.NET will run on the Surface RT? Bought an RT and I’m saving up to buy a Pro (neither version is available yet or scheduled for launch in my country), so it would be awesome if I can use your wonderful app on both. Thank you for all your sweat, toil and dedication. When one loves something enough it automatically shows in one’s work. 🙂

  18. Exit1010 says:

    Hey Rick! Have you thought of creating a style profile? For example. I have the perfect setting for the soften portrait and glow and I want to save that setting the next time I open up paint. Is there a way to implement that feature?

  19. Dmitry V. says:

    Nice to hear that the project is still alive, really looking forward for new releases!

  20. Jean-Luc Picard says:

    +1 on all previous excited comments 😀 I’m really glad this project is alive and cooking 🙂
    also +1 for that kickstarter idea, why not make a few $?

  21. Trevor says:

    You mentioned Windows 8. I am wondering if the requirement for PDN 4.0 will require Windows 8 much like the v3.5+ were for Windows 7.

    • Rick Brewster says:

      v3.5 does not require Windows 7, and works fine on XP and Vista. As I’ve stated on this blog before, v4.0 will requires Windows 7 SP1, *not* Windows 8.

  22. ConcernedApe says:

    Thank you so much for doing this! I love Paint.NET and use it every single day. Can’t wait for version 4.0, especially the “pick color from merged layers” option! ❤

    • mc says:

      In the meantime, you can press the Print Screen key, paste into new image, and pick your colors there. On a side note, waiting for some layer folders.

  23. Mark Biernat says: adds so much value to people who run Window OS on their computer, that your employer should give you a summer sabbatical so you could work on this program in a relaxed way.

    I am a huge Linux fan, but because there is a program called out there I keep booting Windows also.

    Free quality programs on a particular OS is better than stylistic changes on the operating system. My point is whatever your get from championing this program it is not enough. Free software also helps the world, as creative minds are liberated from the shackles of the barrier to entry called cost. There are a lot of talented people who can not afford the high priced programs.

  24. Jason says:

    I’m not a charitable guy, but I could totally get behind a Kickstarter project for v4.0! Great idea!!

  25. tbotv63 says:

    This is awesome!!!
    But could you add a possibility to create groups of layers? Or is it just me not knowing how to do it or where to look?

  26. Paul A. says:

    Now that I a new computer that can handle version 4 these blog posts are a thousand times more interesting. The have been wanting something like the new paint bucket tool shown in a previous post for years. Can’t wait for the new version.

  27. Alex G says:

    Please make the new Paint.NET to be a commercial software. It is so bright! Consider me the very first person in a queue to buy it.

    This will give you the space for innovation and delivery. I’m sure you will get a new, high profitable full-time job.

  28. Nabi says:

    Keep up your great project, and your valuable work
    And also, keep us posted! 🙂

  29. David Rader says:

    Just wanted to say I’m totally looking forward to this! I try to promote Paint.NET whenever I can. Trying to find an email update list… I suppose I can just subscribe to the RSS 😛 Thank you for all your hard work!! (By the way, just ticked the box that says “Notify me of new posts”

  30. Konstantinos says:

    That’s great! Hearing that the development continues. I love Paint.NET, as it is a highly-featured app, but far more user friendly than GIMP. For that reason I prefer using PDN save for more advanced editing.

    As I couldn’t find anywhere to the site I’ll ask here; are there any social media pages for Paint.NET?

  31. Shirley says:

    Thank you so much for Paint.Net. I use it daily and would be lost without it. I am now 70 years old and in the last couple of years have taken up an long time desire to draw. I make lots of characters and it fills an otherwise lonely day. I recently acquired a Bamboo tablet and would love to have the pressure sensitivity but even without it your program is great!

  32. Marcel says:

    I have a request that a default brush size would be 1 instead of 2 and without antialiasing. I’m using PDN mainly for pixel-by-pixel work and this default setting makes me mad each time I use PDN. Please fix it – it’s very annoying.

    • Rick Brewster says:

      In 3.5, you can change the default setting by clicking on “Tool:” in the toolbar, and then “Choose Defaults”.

      In 4.0 this same thing will be moved to the Settings dialog (because nobody can find it in 3.5!).

  33. Rio Martinez says:

    Dear Rick, I have a suggestion to a feature that I know lots of us would appriciate + Shouldnt be to hard to develop!

    What do you think about Customizeable Keyboard shortcuts? Many a time i find myself wasting time going to the same effects via the top menu bar and would like to put this issue to rest! Tell me if you can plan this, and how hard ot would be to incorperate into the application!

  34. Graham says:

    Thank you so much for all of your work on this great program! The ability to render an outline around the contents of a layer would be fantastic.

  35. andreFROM PORTUGAL says:

    i think you can do better, work on it pls.
    im fan of this software, i prefer this simple tool, then any comercial option

  36. Aaron Abdis says:

    One of the biggest killers for me in terms of lacking features is a true text object. That is, when putting a text object on a layer, it stays text, and isn’t converted to pixels, thus allowing you to go back later and change font family, size, style, color, etc. without needing to delete and recreate the text.

    Will this be making it in to 4.0 by any chance?

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