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Best Free Paint Program

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Paint programs, although they overlap in functions, are really a different class of product from raster editors such as Adobe Photoshop and the GIMP. Both the aforementioned  apply artistic filter effects to photos and transform them to look like works of art. Vector-graphics drawing software, such as CorelDRAW and Inkscape, which are programs that have freehand illustration tools with the ability to render images at any size, also differ. Even traditional 2D animation programs like Toon Boom Studio and Pencil, that use both raster/vector imaging, are more concerned with animation rather than paint manipulation.

A paint software application is supposed to mimic traditional painting mediums and effects more than just a bitmap drawing program like Microsoft Paint. My only two requirements are graphic tablet support and the feel of natural paint on a digital canvas. All artists at one time or another dream of doing a comic book and cartoon animation, so if it supports animation or booklet pages, it's a plus. WOW, these free paint programs are truly a fantastic work of art.  Any one of these will definitely satisfy the inner artist in you. Listed in favorite order:


Project Dogwaffle ScreenshotProject DogWaffle is surprisingly full featured. It has a comprehensive set of tools, including fully customizable brushes, lots of filters and effects, multiple color selection options, a good set of color gradients, animation aids and more. On the downside the program runs slowly on older PCs, has limited layer support, has a clunky cut and paste mechanism and only handles BMP and Targa files. Don't let its appearance or unfamiliar menu controls fool you, this is a great totally artistic program to get.

Krita is an open source painting and drawing program, previously a part of KOffice bundle now available as a separate program. It is packed with rich tools like artistic text, calligraphy, fill and gradient, various shapes, outline, fill, zoom pan, layer management, channel management, undo, 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, OpenRaster 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 about 115 MB.

MyPaint screenshotMyPaint is a fast and easy graphics application for digital painters. It lets you focus on the art instead of the program. It comes 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.

Realworld Paint is a super painting program which supports drawing natural, digital and animation images and has features for retouching photos. 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 and more. Brushes and other effects are highly configurable. It supports Psd, jpeg, gif, png, xcf, pdn, webp etc 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. If we talk about the downside, the biggest one about this product is its development. Unfortunately the latest stable version of this program is approximately 2 years old. But still, it is a good choice for painting, photo retouching and even for animation/web designing.

PictBear is an excellent paint program and is packed with 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 of the 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.

PS: Thanks to Panzer for suggesting this cool program. ;)

Pixia screenshotPixia 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 screenshotTwistedBrush has one of the most versatile and powerful brush engines in existence, yet it was designed from day one to be easy to use. “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 are 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 program with rich features and clean graphical user interface. It is easy to install and to 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 are offered by bigger programs. Best of all it is open source.


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-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.


Some more Online paint programs:-

Related Products and Links
Quick Selection Guide

Project DogWaffle Free Edition
Gizmo's Freeware award as the best product in its class!

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Realistic paint effects and frame-based animation tool
Support for only Targa/BMP file formats, lacking only the advanced layer, advance undo/redo function and scripting tools, unappealing interface.
4.3 MB
32 bit only
Feature limited freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista/7

The freeware is still at V1.2 while the commercial version is now at 8.

Update: It is getting outdated day-by-day as no new development news released from developer for the freeware version. At Present Developer is only focused on their commercial product thats why i am thinking about soon replacing it with any other open source or full freeware under constant development product.

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Simple GUI, supports lots of file formats, packed with lots of features and tools.
Big download size, current build does not support windows xp, not very easy to use for newbie artists.
116 MB (64bit) & 109 MB (32bit)
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
windows vista and up, Various linux distributions.
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Multiple platform, extensive brush creation and configuration options, support for pressure sensitive graphic tablets, unlimited canvas. A nice program for almost anything.
No offline help document available, lacks some important digital painting tools like fill, cut and more.
8.58 MB(32-bit) & 9.17 MB(64-bit)
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Windows, Mac, Linux

* Portable version:

* A new stable version of mypaint (V1.1.0) is available for Linux which is packed with new features, improvements and bug fixes, but no good news for windows/Mac users as there is no new stable version available till now.

*Development is as slow as we can assume it as stopped. :(

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
custom brushes, numerous layers as the PC memory lasts, popular format even PSD (photshop), language support.
does not support GIF, unconventional tools which makes it not very user friendly.
14 Mb
32 and 64 bit versions available
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.
Compatible with 7 / 8 / 8.1 32bit/64bit.

Pixia ver. 6 can be installed indepently beside ver. 4 and/or 5.

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
support for pressure sensitive graphic tablets,unlimited undo/redo, canvas can be re-sized while working on it, realistic paint effects, rich in features, great program for young artists.
No offline help document available, sometimes brush stroke become offset if resolution is changed while program is in use and Required .NET Framework 4.0 for version 4.
2 MB
32 bit only
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.
XP SP3/Vista SP1/Win7 - .NET Framework 4.0 - Recommend a tablet/stylus for drawing

Fixed .sddoc save/load failure bug.

RealWorld Paint
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
realistic paint effects, Supports animation as well as retouching of photos, support advance undo/redo, rich in features, A nice program for painting and web development.
Limited canvas but can be readjusted, no offline help file available, little complicated for new users.
8.7 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Unrestricted freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 7, Vista, XP, or 2000
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Support for pressure sensitive graphic tablets, supports unlimited undo/redo, supports Gif and Psd formats, highly customizable user interface because of tabs feature.
Limited canvas, no offline help document, development finished and no support is available from developer.
3.44 Mb
Free for private or educational use only
There is no portable version of this product available.
Windows 98 / Me / 2000 / XP / Vista / 7

Because software development for PictBear has finished developers are not providing support for it.

TwistedBrush Open Studio
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Quick Start Guide, Sketchbook, Features rich!
Very limited brush collection, strokes lags, GUI not very user friendly!
17.6 MB
32 bit but 64 bit compatible
Feature limited freeware
A portable version of this product is available but not from the developer.

* Sadly No new update released since 01/16/11 for Open studio(Freeware) but Pro Studio (Commercial) is getting regular updates, if developer do not release new updates soon i'll consider removing it from here as it is getting outdated.

Tux Paint
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Support for pressure sensitive graphic tablets, supports unlimited undo/redo.
No offline help document available, GUI is not conventional.
11 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows 95,98, Me, NT 4, 2000,XP, Vista, 7 & 8. Mac OS X (version 10.3.9 or later). Linux (No special OS requirements)

* Originally created for children's of 3 to 12 age but working on it is really easy and fun.

Laz Paint
Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Easy to use, Simple GUI, lightweight and small download size.
Not easy to use for newbies, no details are available.
2.7 MB
32 and 64 bit versions available
Open source freeware
A portable version of this product is available from the developer.
Windows xp, vista and 7.


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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by Panzer on 3. January 2013 - 9:34  (104194)

"... SmoothDraw is an easy natural painting and digital free-hand drawing software that can produce high quality pictures. Support many kinds of brushes (pen, pencil, dry media, airbrush, bristle brush, image hose, etc.), retouch tools, layers, image adjustment, and many effects... Works great with tablets and Tablet PC ..."

by Sahil Waste on 6. January 2013 - 11:43  (104263)

Hi Panzer,

thanks for your input...i'll take a look at smoothdraw... ;)

by redstick on 31. July 2013 - 11:49  (109808)

Smoothdraw is easy to use, quite intuitive. But, for me, it is fatally flawed in having very limited zoom capability, and having no 'line/curve' feature. If you can do without these, it is an excellent program with quite a few options.

by Unknown (not verified) on 16. September 2012 - 19:39  (99345)

I was looking through these and what I'm looking for was an easy to use free paint program (duh) that accepts jpg, has layering and animation. I'd really like to avoid the really complicated million menus and billion settings of a majority of these, and I don't need brushes and all that.Thank you if you are able to help!

by Ole Fjord Larsen (not verified) on 2. July 2012 - 8:57  (95640)

Please advise a very simple drawing program for mac computer,
Thank you

by Jorge on 13. July 2012 - 1:06  (96113)

Actually MyPaint has a Mac Package.

by Jojo Yee on 13. July 2012 - 2:21  (96114)

Thanks Jorge for the info. Updated in the database.

by Andrea Buzzelli (not verified) on 12. June 2012 - 13:08  (94738)

you should consider also Speedy Painter, it has the ability to save/reload the whole drawing process, and to even export it in an avi video!
It is very simple and lightweight and it doesn't need installation.

by MisterWizard (not verified) on 14. May 2012 - 21:03  (93464)

I am looking for a program to help me make line drawings for etching. It should "cartoon" a picture and remove all the color, leaving only black and white. I can do this with [commercial software - names edited out], except it takes several steps and uses various filters and layers, etc. I would like to find a software that basically does it automatically. Load a picture and it will make the lines in the picture bolder (for etching) and remove all the color (since etching is basically a black and white process). Anyone know of anything like that?

by Celestt (not verified) on 7. May 2012 - 0:04  (93144)

MyPaint is a very nice program. Very efficient. Actually, the version I have does have layers.

by jim914 (not verified) on 26. January 2012 - 12:47  (87828)

MyPaint does support layers, at least in the most recent version and its an excellent program. I would like to see the Mac version finished up and with pressure support.

by Anupam on 5. January 2012 - 16:35  (86620)
by Linuxis on 22. January 2012 - 4:27  (87578)

Thanks for showing me this little program.

Mtpaint is the first program I've found that works the way I draw.
It's smooth too.

I'd recommend it to anyone interested in pixel art, or just plain doodling.

by Anupam on 22. January 2012 - 9:52  (87594)

Glad you liked it :).

by caturday (not verified) on 16. November 2011 - 13:20  (83379)

Is there such a thing as a program that allows you to paint pixel by pixel like [commercial program], and let you use pretty much any color as long as you know the RGB values?

I'm probably going to be upgrading from Windows XP soon, and as I understand it, [commercial program] isn't compatible with Windows 7.

I'm willing to pay a modest amount for such a program, but a free download or trial version would be even better. :)

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

by Anonymous guy (not verified) on 7. August 2011 - 23:44  (77111)

I'm a pixel artist and I am used to using windows paint for my "tool of the trade". Does anyone have a recommendation for me that allows me to work with pixels instead of brushes?

by Siren (not verified) on 13. October 2011 - 17:48  (81349)

This link is for a free pixel baised soft ware...=0)

by paint4fun (not verified) on 6. August 2011 - 21:09  (77050)

As a digital artist, I thought I might weigh in on this particular category of freeware. I don't claim to have used all of these programs, however I have some experience with quite a few of these and some paid progs (My current mantra is "if it ain't free it aint for me" and I hope to someday run a grapic design studio without cost-prohibitive software licensing). I have used Dogwaffle, Twistedbrush, Neopaint, MSpaint, Paint.Net, Gimp etc.

I have found Paint.Net to be my personal favourite, and indispensible really. It supports many, many formats and when you save as .pdn it preserves all the separate layers.It also has many effects, and plugins, unlimited undo's etc. It does not have custom brushes (that I'm aware of...there may be a plug-in or a trick). But that's where GIMP comes in. I don't save anything in GIMP's proprietary format (or JPEG...EVER as jpeg is too lossy and will create artifacts) , but rather I copy /paste from PAINT to GIMP, and back after I complete the neccessary task. Sounds a pain but if you have both open, it's very simple. This way I only transfer the layer I need, and don't have to save if I don't want to. I use this method, for drawing, painting, touch-ups, compositing, UV texturing of 3D models (created in BLENDER3D a free 3d modeling and animation program) etc.

If you are looking for TABLET support, I use a 21" Cintiq, and a Wacom Bamboo (Win7 Pro). I can't think of a single program, painting or otherwise, that doesn't work. It basically uses it as a mouse input and moves the cursor accordingly. Not every task is best done with a pen though. Having said that...GIMP supports pressure sensitivity, PAINT does not. Not all programs have an AIRBRUSH tool (GIMP-Yes, PAINT-No). The ERASER tip can be configured through the control panel in Windows as can any buttons.

GIMP also has a plug-in (I haven't tried it) to make the user interface more Photoshop-like for those who are already familiar with that, or perhaps wish to learn it for free.

Where both GIMP, and PAINT.NET fall a little short is in their 'natural feel'. Paint in particular, doesn't try to replicate the experience of painting. I over come this by using a larger canvas. But this equals memory, both performance wise and larger file sizes.

I was once asked if I prefer painting on the screen or "for real"? Without getting into the whole existential aspect of his question i.e. what is NOT real about something you can see, and have and emotional response to ? I simply replied that they are different facets of the same thing and to be enjoyed for their differences as much as their similarities. or

by MR Ashton (not verified) on 26. December 2011 - 7:41  (86006)

painting for real is far more random. I haven't found a single digital program which even try's to mimic a loaded brush. I don't really have any ideas while painting on pc. sure it's great for drawing but I think you need to constantly move between the 2 mediums to get a good result.

by Darkbee (not verified) on 28. October 2011 - 20:05  (82330)

Just a minor clarification. GIMP's native file format is not proprietary. That implies that it's not open or freely usable. Since GIMP is an open source project the exact file specifications for the XCF format are freely available should you wish to obtain them. Furthermore the are no legal hindrances to you using that format in your own applications (that I know of). That's very different from something like say GIF, which is a proprietary format and cannot be created without a license from the patent holders.

On the other hand, I interpret the comments of the prior post to mean that the XCF is not as ubiquitous or widely supported as say something like PNG or JPEG, which is a statement I agree with. However, if you wish to save layer and certain other image information to be reusable in GIMP then you kind of have to use it's format since the other formats don't support such things.

by Global (not verified) on 10. June 2011 - 16:33  (73605)

Maybe I'm missing something, so please clarify. I like (and am very familiar with) the input in MS Paint, but since it is a Raster program, I can't enlarge my drawings without bad pixilation.

Which if any of these recommended programs is Vector, so that I can enlarge to my heart's content without loss of sharpness? Related question, which of the Vector programs has input most like MS Paint so there is as small a learning curve as possible.

If none of these programs can output in Vector, can you recommend a free program which has a MS Paint-like input and the output is Vector?

Thanks very much for your assistance.

by CK GANDHI (not verified) on 30. December 2011 - 5:30  (86210)

Convert raster images like JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs to scalable vector graphics (EPS, SVG, and PDF) with this free online vectorizer.
You don't believe that a free online service will deliver usable results? Give it a try and save time and money.


by Remah on 12. June 2011 - 5:34  (73659)

You are right in thinking that you need a vector graphics editor if you want a fully scalable drawing:

If you are rely on the filter effects in your paint program then you will probably need to ensure that those are available to you. The last time I looked at Inkscape it was limited in this area.

Although, I don't know what you are trying to do, I first suggest you work out what your maximum painting size is likely to be as it may be feasible in a paint program. The bigger your canvas then the more memory you need and the heavier the load on your system. Exactly how much memory/RAM depends upon your color depth e.g. 8 bit, 24 bit, etc.
Large canvases will make normal tasks, such as printing, unacceptably slow.

Canvas size = the square of (inches x dots per inch)

For example, if you want to create 6 foot (about 2 metre) square pictures then you will have the square of (6 foot x 12 inches/foot x 300dpi) = 21,600 squared = 466,560,000 which is about 500 megapixels. Now that requires more memory than I have in my system. At 150 dpi, the size reduces to one quarter = 125 megapixels.

by Simone mc (not verified) on 27. May 2011 - 19:20  (72803)

hi i was wandering if any one knows of a free and easy to use program that will allow me to clean up an image or take stiches out of an image , i'm not very good with the comp so it needs to be easy to use , thank you for even taken the time to read this

by Remah on 12. June 2011 - 5:43  (73660)

There are products that should suit you in these categories:
Digital Image Viewer - most viewers have limited editing functions
Digital Image Editor

by Somebody (not verified) on 7. May 2011 - 18:36  (71584)

Hey! I was looking around for free paint program downloads and saw this site. I really like my windows paint and I want something like it but with blending. Any recommendations?

by Anupam on 7. May 2011 - 18:59  (71585)

Hi. Most of the programs here will work like Windows Paint. But have got more extra features. So, probably what you want is there. If you are looking for a particular feature like blending, then visit the software site, and look at the feature list :).

by Somebody (not verified) on 7. May 2011 - 22:51  (71592)

Thank you! Helped a lot! I found several paint programs that are perfect for what I do!

by Anupam on 8. May 2011 - 5:54  (71609)

Welcome. Glad to be of help :).

by moggy (not verified) on 5. May 2011 - 11:47  (71456)

art rage does support layers! checkout version 3