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Paint programs—when we talk about them some people may interpret them generally as a raster or bitmap editor, or wrongly as vector-graphic drawing software. Even though they have some similarities, paint programs are really a different class of product.
If we talk about raster or bitmap programs, like GIMP or GIMPshop for instance, they give users ability to apply artistic filter effects to photos and transform them to look like works of art and save images composed of connected dots; whereas about vector programs like Inkscape, they give users flexibility to work on images composed of connected lines and scalable to any size without effecting image quality.
Paint programs even though work like bitmap programs, in general sense they are software that is supposed to give traditional painting medium feel and effects.
On the right is an example of what an artist can do with a paint program. (Image source: Wikipedia)
Paint programs are a choice for many and can be used by newbies because generally there is no steep learning curve. To start working on them you only need a little imagination.
My idea about a good paint program is that it is easy to use even to novice users, gives feel of natural painting on a digital canvas, supports graphics tablets with pressure sensitivity and is able to save in a small file size without taking up much space. It's a plus point if it also supports animation, booklet pages or both to fulfill needs of artists who at one time or another dream of doing a comic book or cartoon animation.
Wow! These programs are really an awesome piece of art. I hope one of these will surely satisfy the inner artist in you.
Project DogWaffle is an excellent suite. It comprises of a comprehensive set of customizable brushes, including lots of effects and filters, color gradients and much more. The program has all tools an artist may need and I can say it is a feature-rich digital painting application.
But it has some downsides too. One of the main downsides is its development that I think has stopped because the developer has not shown any interest in it for quite a long time. Also it runs slowly on older PCs. Another problem with this program is that it only handles BMP and Targa files.
Its appearance and menu controls may look unfamiliar to new users even though the program is packed with a lot of tools and powerful settings that make it a totally artistic program.
Krita is an open source comprehensive painting and drawing suite. It is previously a part of KOffice bundle but now available as a separate program. It is packed with rich tools like artistic text, fill and gradient, various shapes, outline, fill, zoom pan and undo; and advanced tools like calligraphy, layer management, channel management, scripts, etc.
It supports various filters such as kaleidoscope, stereographic projection, phong bumpmap, sobel, edge detection, sectorize, roundify, hipno, tunnel, random pick, HSV adjustment, etc. Also, it supports various file formats like .kra, EXR, OpenRaster document, PSD image, Gimp image, PPM, PGM, PBM, PNG, JPEG-2000, PDF, ODG draw, BMP Windows, XPM, GIF, XBM, Krita Flipbook, Adobe DNG negative and Camera RAW. And it is capable of saving output to .kra, Open Raster document, PSD image, PPM, PGM, PBM, PNG, JPEG-2000, JPEG, BMP Windows, XBM, TIFF, EXR and even PDF.
Krita is available for Windows Vista and up, and various Linux distributions. The main con in Krita is its big download size which is greater than 115 MB. Also it is not the right product for a newbie because of its steep learning curve. With all the features it is packed with newbies or absolute beginners may find themselves overwhelm, that is why it is good for at least intermediate artists.
MyPaint is a good option for digital painters. It lets artist focus on the art instead of the program. It comes in with a large brush collection including charcoal and ink to emulate natural painting.
If you want to look deeper, MyPaint is built around a highly configurable brush engine. This allows you to experiment with your own brushes and with not-quite-so-natural painting. It is packed with cool features like layers, redo/undo, new color selector, unique and customizable brushes and more. Also, there are some cool brush packages available on the official website that can help one move ahead and be more creative without worrying about customizing brushes.
Its only downside is its development. It is not constantly or regularly developed. Lately the time gap between new releases increased seriously. Otherwise it is a good program to try.
Realworld Paint is a true digital painting program which supports drawing natural digital and animation images and has features for retouching photos. In my opinion it is better than many other programs available out there. All the features are nicely placed in its user interface.
Some of the main features it is packed with include animation support, Fill, Shapes with/without effects, brushes with/without effects, crop, magic wand, red eye removal, watermark support, layers, vector flexibility, Converting animations to filmstrips and vice versa, Shape shifter tool and more. Brushes and other effects are highly configurable.
It supports Psd, jpeg, gif, png, xcf, pdn, webp and other photo formats. The best part I like about this program is its compatibility with major industry standard products like Photoshop and Gimp, which means you can import/export files between these with ease. Also it has no prerequisite for installation. In fact, it has a portable version available from the developer so no installation is required at all.
If we talk about the downside, the biggest one about this product is its development. Unfortunately the latest stable version of this program is more than 2 years old. Another downside is that RealWorld Paint is a pixel-oriented program. But still, it is a great choice for painting, photo retouching and even for animation stuff. Don't miss it.
PictBear is an excellent paint program and is packed with a comprehensive set of tools and features. Its user interface is very convenient or conventional and all the tools are quite easy to understand and use from newbie to advanced and experienced artists.
Some advanced features PictBear is packed with include: layers, gradients, good range of brushes & plug-ins, image and mask editing, cascade, tiles and tab support with multi tasking capabilities, script support, cut/copy/paste/fill/zoom/eraser/dropper/various shapes tools, etc., which make it a brilliant paint program.
PictBear supports lots of picture formats including: gif, jpg, bmp, png, psd, pbx, tiff, pcx, ras, tga, wmf, jsf and j2k. On the other hand, if we talk about the downside, the biggest one this product has is its development is finished.
SmoothDraw is a feature rich natural painting program for free-hand drawing artists. It includes features like layers, various effects, fill, move, select, hand tool, advance undo/redo, various brushes and tools, paper texture, ink flow, grain, etc.
It supports high configuration of brushes and tools like configuration of brush/tool size and ink-flow, which make it best for natural drawings. In addition to this, it supports various photo file formats like png, jpeg, sddoc, etc.
It is a nice choice for natural drawing and free-hand artists.
P.S. Thanks to Panzer for suggesting this cool program.
Pixia is the English version of a popular Japanese painting and retouching software for full color graphics.
It supports masks, layers and many other editing functions. You can use your own customized brush tips and even use an image file as a brush tip to create unique effects.
With the new engine the paint feels smooth like ArtRage. It has lots of free plug-ins, and filter downloads that make this program quite unique and different from other tools. This is well worth picking up for painting on photographs.
TwistedBrush has one of the most versatile and powerful brush engines in existence, yet it was designed from day one to be easy to use.
It is “simplicity without sacrifice, powerful enough for the professional artist, yet simple enough for the novice” as noted on their website.
The quick start guide is a nice intro to the program's abilities. TwistedBrush Open Studio is designed for all realms of digital art including natural media fine art and even has all the great features of TwistedBrush Pro Studio, albeit just a handful of the very fine brushes are included and without any brush editing ability.
Tux Paint is basically a program designed for children but it has some nice tools and supports different brushes that forced me to add this program in this category.
Its user interface is really simple, neat and clean. The set of tools is really easy to use because it is designed for children. The scope of using Tux Paint is endless; anyone can use it because of the wide features it supports. Some of the features Tux Paint is packed with are shapes, stamps, advance undo/redo, brushes, magic brush with various magic stroke (special effects), slides, starters options, Text and Label tools and more.
The features I liked most in Tux Paint are funny sounds on click and Parental & Teacher Controls.
Laz Paint is one of the good paint programs with rich features and a clean graphical user interface. It is easy to install and use.
It is packed with various superb features like Render, Filter, Gradient, Deformation, Text Mapping, advance colour selection, magic wand and more, which make it more than just a paint program.
It is meant for people who want to invest their free time in painting and art. Despite of its smalll download size, it has so much to show and we can do more than just bitmap drawing which is offered by bigger programs. Best of all it is open source.
Online Paint and Drawing Apps
There are various online services available which allow users to paint and draw. The main problem with almost every online service is various limitations, watermarks and privacy. Some support no watermarks and private output but not all. Although it is almost impossible to list them all, here are some of them which I was able to find and test (in random order). (Please read their TOS before trying).
- Sketch n Paint: It is a light weight and free online paint app with lots of good tools and features like undo/redo, paint tool, stroke modifier, eraser, colour pickup, zoom view, pan view, mask, stroke pressure adjuster, diffusion adjuster, size and fade adjuster, and opacity tuner. Also it supports basic, HSL and RGB colour groups. It includes almost everything a user expects from a basic painting tool and it gives user freedom to save and even print the creation.
- SketchPad: It is again a great online paint app available for free. Its interface gives a very fresh and professional feel and the tools it is packed with also come with a new approach. The tools I am talking about include mostly traditional ones like brush, text, crop, marquee, eraser, fill, stamp, colour picker, shape, Gradent, Pattern, Swatch (which includes solids, Gradients and Patterns), and a new useful but uncommon tool Spirograph. The new thing here is these tools offer more settings, like in Text tool it offers "message, size and stroke"; similarly in Eraser it offers settings like "diameter, hardness, flow and opacity" and in Spirograph it offers settings like "Inner/outer size, diameter, speed, and resolution". Most importantly it supports a history feature which is very useful for serious art. This new approach attracted my attention and while writing this review I am still experimenting with it. And believe me it's FUN!!! :D
- SumoPaint (free): The tools and features match with this app's name. They are huge and sumo, and yes I am talking about the free version. It is not a basic paint program but an advance paint and drawing tool for serious artists. Some of the important tools and features of SumoPaint (free) are layers, lasso, magic wand, move tool, ink tool, gradient fill tool, pie tool, simple/rounded/bulky start tools, symmetry tool, line/curve tool, blur/smudge tools, crop/transform/rotate tools, undo/redo, layer eraser, opacity, diameter, fill, mode, mode value, slides, shape trails, zome/info, colour picker, swatches. Also it is packed with some advance options like File, Edit, Image, Select, Layer, Adjustment, Filters, view, and help. It matches with today's professional commercial programs and the user can access it from anywhere with the help of the Internet. It is purely meant for artists.
- Queeky Paint: It is again a nice app with some advance tools, options and features. Tools like lasso, magicwand, loupe, web, airbrush, various shapes, hand, undo/redo, etc., and options such as size, opacity, radius, mode, blendmode, fill, zoom, info pan, colour pan, layers, etc., make it an advance paint app and a good choice for many. It also has rich menus like Queeky, File, Edit, selection, Layers, Adjustments, Filters, View help, etc. Overall, it's a great online app worth trying and its Web tool is a great time killer.
- ArtPad: It is a very basic tool with options like text, bucket, brush, undo, size of stroke and opacity. The user can set frames, save and send their creations. Look at their Term of service for sure before giving it a try.
More online paint programs:-
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Project DogWaffle Free Edition
- Fixed .sddoc save/load failure bug.
SmoothDraw 4.1.2 Beta is also available
- Pixia ver. 6 can be installed indepently beside ver. 4 and/or 5.
- Pixia 64bit ver. 6 cannot be installed on 32bit windows
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/LazPaint
TwistedBrush Open Studio
This software category is maintained by volunteer editor Sahil Waste. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or questions they might have by clicking here.
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