GIMP vs Paint.NET Image Editing

Do you need something to spice up your images? The built in tools in Windows like Microsoft Paint not enough for you? Can’t afford Adobe Photoshop? The two most popular free applications to edit images on Windows would be GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and Paint.NET, but how do the two compare to each other?

First Class Flyer is a weekly series published every Friday comparing two or more free software products of the same category.

Background

Most Windows users can admit that Microsoft Paint is very weak and feature lacking. That’s why Paint.NET was created, to replace Microsoft Paint. GIMP on the other hand is a photo retouching tool designed for Linux (and built into many distributions like Ubuntu) with binaries available for Mac and Windows.

Startup Time and Performance

Program startup should be quick and easy. Nobody likes waiting very long. Paint.NET starts off very quickly and smoothly with no problems at all. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for GIMP, which took me up to 5 minutes (at least 2 minutes on Windows) to startup and always freezing while loading the data.

GIMP Startup

GIMP frequently freezes during startup.

During program operation, Paint.NET runs very smoothly while GIMP may randomly freeze and/or crash.

GIMP: 3
Paint.NET: 5

Basic Interface

GIMP’s interface is divided into at least 3 windows by default. The main window houses the actual image. Additional windows house all toolbars. This is still considered by Windows as one big window. Such an arrangement causes the interface to look quite cluttered.

GIMP

GIMP's interface is quite cluttered if you are limited on screen estate. Image used is a self-taken photo of Portland Lighthouse (Maine, USA) with the Invert Color effect applied.

Paint.NET also uses multiple windows however its main windows contains toolbars and the toolboxes automatically become partially transparent when not in focus which reduces clutter. In addition, there are “tabs” letting you manage multiple images.

Paint.NET

Paint.NET provides a more traditional Windows interface with pleasing Aero effects and transparent fading toolboxes. Image used is a self taken photo of New York Harbor and Atlantic Ocean (New York, USA).

Paint.NET takes this round for providing a clean and uncluttered interface.

GIMP: 3 (6 total)
Paint.NET: 5 (10 total)

Feature Set

Both of these image editors provide extremely rich and powerful feature sets. Both programs try to mimic some of Adobe Photoshop’s powerful features. Here is just a very small percentage of the wide range of effects available in these powerful image editors.

Like Photoshop, distortion effects can be applied to the image creating very interesting results.

Paint.NET Twist

Paint.NET Twist Effect

GIMP Ripple

GIMP Ripple Effect

Now let’s take my twisted photo of New York Harbor and apply the Emboss effect on it.

Paint.NET Emboss

Paint.NET Emboss on the twisted photo of New York Harbor

GIMP Supernova

GIMP: Its a supernova!

Both include artistic effects, such as cartoon and oil painting.

Paint.NET Ink Sketch

Paint.NET Ink Sketch

Buried under the many menus, GIMP has far more features than Paint.NET. You can spend hours experimenting with everything.

GIMP: 5 (11 total)
Paint.NET: 4 (14 total)

Ease of Use

Nobody likes to read huge user manuals. Most of the basic functions should be easy and straightforward. Paint.NET is like this. Easy and simple with nothing complicated or confusing.

Some of GIMP features are straightforward however it may take while to get used to everything as GIMP seems less user friendly than Paint.NET is. The multi-window cluttered interface makes it even worse.

GIMP: 3.5 (14.5 total)
Paint.NET: 5 (19 total)

And now its time for…

Bonus Points!

Windows 7 Taskbar Support

Paint.NET integrates with Windows 7 taskbar for the progresss bars of extended tasks such as applying effects.

Paint.NET Taskbar

Paint.NET tasks integrate their progress bar into Windows 7 taskbar icons

Paint.NET: +1 bonus point (20 total)

Plugin System

GIMP is open source and allows for a plugin system. Plugins can extend and add additional features to GIMP and can be downloaded at the Plugin Registry. Paint.NET also supports plugins from their plugin forum.

GIMP: +3 bonus points (17.5 total)
Paint.NET: +3 bonus points (23 total)

Multi-Platform

GIMP is multi-platform for Windows, Mac, and Linux (officially for Linux), unlike Paint.NET which is Windows exclusive.

GIMP: +2 bonus points (19.5 points)

Its time to tally up the scores!

GIMP: 19.5
Paint.NET: 23

And the winner is…

Paint.NET!

Once again, the scores are very close, but Paint.NET is the winner of this First Class Flyer.

It’s all about personal preference and want you want in an image editor. GIMP has much more features and can do more however its significantly slower and harder to use. Paint.NET is easy and quick but has less features than GIMP.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
Supports Windows, Mac, and Linux

Paint.NET
Supports Windows XP SP2 or higher
Requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (automatically installs if it is not already installed)

Which one do you prefer? GIMP or Paint.NET? Or do you prefer another image editor? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Be sure to join us next Friday for the next First Class Flyer!

http://registry.gimp.org/19

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By
Brian is the co-founder of TechAirlines. He is a developer currently focusing on mobile and web development. He is currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University, majoring in Computer Science.

  • Master Gobada

    HA. Just as I thought. I love Paint.net.

    “Most Windows users can admit that Microsoft Paint is very weak and feature lacking.”
    Microsoft Paint is awesome. :D But it also lacks thousands of features that Photoshop has.

    Gimp takes up a lot more space on your hard drive, I hear. Also, its mascot is kind of lame and overdone. Seriously? Random dogs? Wow.

    You gave bonus points go GIMP for its plugin system. But doesn’t Paint.NET have plugins, too? For example, you can open .psd files in Paint.NET without Photoshop by getting a certain free plugin.

    My personal preference is Paint.NET. Gimp may have a lot of features, yes, but it’s still minimal compared to Photoshop. If you want to have a feature-rich image editing program, it’s better to use Photoshop than Gimp. If you want something a step above MsPaint but still very fast and easy to use, Paint.NET is awesome.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian

      Hi Master Gobada.

      Microsoft Paint is awesome. :D But it also lacks thousands of features that Photoshop has.

      Photoshop also costs a few hundred dollars more, unless you want to include the price of Windows, which is less than Photoshop also.

      You gave bonus points go GIMP for its plugin system. But doesn’t Paint.NET have plugins, too? For example, you can open .psd files in Paint.NET without Photoshop by getting a certain free plugin.

      Ooops! I just realized Paint.NET has its own plugin directory also. Updated post giving Paint.NET an extra 3 points as well. :) Thanks for the info!

      My personal preference is also Paint.NET because its free and has all the features I need. GIMP takes much too long to start up and Photoshop is far too expensive.

  • Master Gobada

    Whoo! Extra points for Paint.NET!
    Ooh, those are some nice plugins. I might try them if I have enough time.

  • http://www.netprofitmarketing.com Jared Detroit

    I’ve been using PAINT.NET for about a year and have really liked it. I would like more support for PSDs but I guess who wouldn’t. I can at least open them up and view the layers. Overall for the work I do (not a graphic artist) I think it’s great.
    .-= Jared Detroit´s last blog ..Easy & Effective Content Creation =-.

  • GIMPaint newb

    Paint.net’s user friendly setup is really nice, particularly the bleed through on the extra windows so you can see the image behind them. But the one thing I’ve seen that Gimp has on it are the user-created brushes. I have found tons of GIMP brushes, but not as many for Paint.net. the other problem with that is that they slow Gimp down even more when loading. I heard they were working on it, but i havent heard if they actually did or not.

    when i get a new computer, i’ll prolly feel better about a bunch of brushes.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian

      Yep. I like Paint.NET’s setup and interface. I like using GIMP brushes but like browser extensions, the more you add to it, the slower it becomes.

  • Chris

    AHA! I knew Paint.NET would win, it’s beastly, I use both GIMP and Paint.NET and I haven’t even touched GIMP alot

  • JH

    My preference is Photoshop, but I can’t afford to drop $800 every two years for an up-to-date version, and don’t want to mess with software piracy.

    Having experimented with both GIMP and Paint.net, I’ve got to lean toward Paint.net…GIMP offers many useful features and quirks but the tools are so counter-intuitive and poorly organized, and it runs so slowly.

    Paint.net is the more “elegant” app, it launches in seconds, and its menus and user interface more closely resemble Photoshop. It could use a better selection of filters and a few more features but I’m assuming those things are available as plug-ins.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian

      Yup. I like Photoshop too, but definitely can’t afford to pay so much just to get the latest versions.

      I used to use GIMP a lot but I really didn’t like waiting so long for it to start up and having all these windows open made everything look cluttered. Paint.NET has less features, but is much easier to use and the performance is significantly better.

      I’m currently primarily using Paint.NET.

  • http://clubinka.com Carlos

    Paint.net. Thanks for the review. Amateur I am. I have been using Paint.net for 3 years now. Easy, clean, intuitive. At our Office, I had PShop and it was huge and cumbersom. PShop drained memory and cpu. Our techs used it but they sure took a long time to modify things. Maybe creative people get distracted with all the tools. I am not that creative but I still get distracted. Slows down everything. Back to Paint.net, I need to look into feathering (PShop) feature on Paint.net. Also looking for a plug-in for cmyk. CMYK separates colors, useful if you want to silkscreen images also. Printer told me cmyk files are preferred. I am printing my clubinka.com team picture.

  • Jesse

    I like both. Paint.Net because it’s nice and simple and works very well with Windows. I use it for cropping and resizing. Saving an image is a delight compared to GIMP. Unfortunately I can’t do in paint.Net what I can do in Photoshop. Making precise selections is just not possible. You cannot load a selection or feather it, there are no soft brushes or layer masks. These are vital tools for basic image manipulation like realistically replacing a head. (that sounds wrong but you know what I mean. i.e Give person A the head of person B and still have it look real.) I use GIMP for all the advanced manipulations that you would otherwise need Photoshop for.
    I also find that the curves tool in GIMP gives much better results then the one in PDN. Again a vital feature for more serious manipulations.

    As for the constant crashing. About the time this article was written there was a version out that kept giving problems on Windows. Upgrading solved that problem. GIMP is pretty stable for me. I love how much I can do with it without having to shell out for Photoshop.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Yup. GIMP certainly has its advantages over Paint.NET, primarily in providing many more features, although it is a bit more difficult to use and performance is significantly worse. If I need to make detailed changes to an image, I would choose GIMP, otherwise Paint.NET works just fine.

  • http://www.serverchange.net/comingsoon Andreas_P

    Could you please be so kind and rate the dev version of both too? eg GIMP Single Window, Layer Groups etc…

    • http://www.serverchange.net/comingsoon Andreas_P

      btw: comparing GIMP w. Paint.NET is like comparing Krita to Nathive…

      There were to projects started to rival Paint.NET: Paint.MONO as proof of concept and PINTA you should compare those ones… GIMP next contender is PS or PSP or sth. like those…

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Thanks for the suggestions. I plan on creating updated versions of some of the software comparisons including this one very soon.

  • Will

    Can someone tell me how Paint.Net got 23.5 when it was never awarded half a point? You randomly stuck a half point in there. lol. Thank you for the suggestions though, I think I’ll be taking a look into Paint.Net. I’ve used Gimp once and couldn’t quite grasp everything.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Hi Will,

      Thanks for pointing that out! The numbers should now be fixed.

  • Dan

    I’ve had both on my computer for about 3 years now. Every so often, I fire up GIMP, wait for it to load, flounder in the complexity, and then go back to Paint.NET and get the job done. Never did flounder in Paint.Net, even in the beginning. 15 minutes was all it took to get cooking.

  • Dan

    PS If Microsoft wanted to something useful with/to Powerpoint as opposed to endless upgrades that no one asked for, they might think of building in/integrating a copy of Paint.Net.

  • Moom

    Been using gimp for a good year or so now on a Windows XP machine, and haven’t had a single crash or stutter.

    I don’t think these two are really good comparisons. Gimp is a Photoshop substitute, while Paint.net is much more mid-range – rather more like Paint on steroids. I also use Photoshop, so steep learning curves for graphics packages just seems normal! Paint.net is so easy to use, it feels far too lightweight – and the feature set bears this out.

  • http://artswrap.co.uk Sam Moore

    Paint.NET is a simpler image editor, easy to use, but not nearly as powerful as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop.

    I like the GIMP, though I miss some features photoshop includes and whiche are not present. The 3 windows GUI is really annoying for me (can’t use ALT TAB as easily as I want), it should be configurable (simply a “split windows” option) to my opinion.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      I’m hoping GIMP would introduce a single window application in the future. Having multiple windows seems to cause unnecessary clutter.

      • http://artswrap.co.uk Sam Moore

        Yes, everyone wants the app to be contained in a single window, rather than a ton of floating windows.

        • spotsKnight

          Actually I like the separate windows because I use multiple monitors and I can put all my tools on one monitor in an easy to access layout, then on my main monitor I have the graphic I’m working on without anything over it.

  • http://www.dangibbs.co.uk/journal/ Gibbs

    For someone like me who uses GIMP at work the multiple windows are very useful. The reason this doesn’t seem to work very well for others is because they are using Windows (Linux has native workspaces and you dedicate one to GIMP). GIMP is a Linux application that’s been ported so the workflow is aimed at that of someone running Linux (hence the window management being “unconventional” to Windows users).

    If you take a look at the development snapshots of the upcoming version it has a single window mode feature which should be useful for Windows or laptop users. Its been delayed a long time now though.

    The startup being slow is typically another Windows problems – tons of fonts. The more fonts you have the longer it will take the GIMP to cache them. I’ve never had that issue before outside of Windows so you may want to look into that.

    I haven’t tried Paint.NET but hear it is a great tool for beginners. I just thought I would share some info on the GIMP

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Thanks for your comment. The startup problem on Windows does appear to come from loading fonts into the cache. GIMP works great on Linux.

  • mao_dze_dun

    Have to agree with the above comments defending GIMP. The comparison you made is quite arbitrary in my view. The 2 programs aim at completely different audiences. Saying that Paint.Net has the edge over Gimp because Gimp’s interface is too complicated is inappropriate. You cannot have a feature rich raster editor with a simple interface. You just can’t. By the same logic Photoshop is awful because it’s interface is ultra complicated. Not to mention I’m positive Gimp has a huge advantage when it comes to scripts and plugins and I’ve been able to extend it’s functionality A LOT. And what does “nobody likes to read user manuals” supposed to mean? Well of course you’ll have to read it is you mean to do something complicated. Do you expect to find a button for “crop, reduce red saturation, increase cyan lightness, fix contrast, blend” ? Also your rating system is quite unfair – when it comes to interface you give Gimp 3.5 and Paint.Net 5 but right after that you give Gimp 5 points for being feature rich and 4 to Paint.Net?!?! So the interface is more important than the features? Even when you know that the complicated interface is a direct result of the same feature richness. I’m sorry but the whole article sounds like some fanboy promotion of the preferred software. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a hater. I’m just giving you some tips. Right now it looks like the writings of the people who try to convince the world GIMP is better than Photoshop because it’s free and is 90% identical to Photoshop (which, regardless of my love for GIMP, simply not true). I suggest you compare Paint.Net to Picasa or something similar. After all one is a software developed with the thought of making a more advanced Paint and the other has been developed since day one as a professional image editing application. It’s like comparing a razor to a kitchen knife. Anyway this post has become quite long. I do hope you get my message in the way intended and take no offense.
    All the best,
    Stan

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Thank you for your comment and visiting. I will take that into account for any future related posts I make.

      I agree with the point you’re making and it’s true that the ratings I gave were probably unfair. In any future posts like this I might make, I will be incorporating a weighted average system that I use for regular reviews I make, where appearance only counts for 5% (http://www.techairlines.com/about/review-weighted-average/)

      ~Brian

  • http://www.yehatzvi.org Todd

    only used Gimp. Complicated, but once I read Grokking the Gimp, not so bad. It is awesome. I just downloaded Paint.NET and will give it a whirl. Thanks for the review.

  • http://www.justcrystalchandeliers.com Sam Moore

    Hi, Todd.. Paint.NET is a fantastic, free piece of software that can help you achieve amazing results with your photography. Similar to the set-up of GIMP, you’ll have tons of editing options, filters, text effects and lenses to use to your advantage.

  • you dont need my name

    “””It’s all about personal preference and want you want in an image editor. GIMP has much more features and can do more however its significantly slower and harder to use. Paint.NET is easy and quick but has less features than GIMP.””

    The Gimp runs slow on window because of the winGTK tool kit. Try running gimp on Linux and how can you say an image editing program with less tools is better????
    Are you one of those paid Microsoft bloggers. LLLLLLAAAAAMMMMMEEEEE

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Hello,

      This article was intended was Windows users who are looking for an image editor that’s better than Microsoft Paint. GIMP does indeed run better on Linux.

      I am not a paid Microsoft blogger. :)

  • Daylon124

    GIMP, I would say, is for more advanced graphic designers. In my opinion, you would use PDN for someone less familiar with software(e.g the oldies :D) or if you didn’t want to spend3 days on a photo. Don’t get me wrong, I love PDN but, like others said, it’s a more advanced version of Paint.

  • http://vehemence41.blogspot.com/2011/05/i-think-paintnet-sucks.html ByteMe

    Paint.NET is lame and the developer is an arrogant prick. Pick Paint.NET if you have an AOL email domain or don’t know where the “any key” is located. For people with more than 2 brain cells, GIMP is better.

    • Kmacroxs

      I have more than 2 brain cells. Yet, I prefer Paint.NET. Here’s a thought: maybe you should research your facts before acting like a jerk.

    • http://www.creastery.com Creastery

      Different people have different perspectives, especially so as this article is indeed unfair to a certain extent.

      However, I do not feel that Paint.NET is lame. It’s useful, quick and fast.

      Do I prefer Paint.NET over GIMP? Yes, I do, ’cause I use it almost every few days.
      Do I still use GIMP? Yes, I do. But most of the time if I really want to do serious designing, I’ll be off working using Photoshop. (Not that I love Photoshop, but I really hate the very clustered interface in GIMP)

  • ZangDaQian

    License type:

    GIMP: 3 (GPL opensource)
    Paint.NET: 1 (Freeware – locked by M$)

  • @ZangDaQian et al

    On average, how many people need to change the source code of GNU licensed software after getting a released version? & what GNU software have you ever participated on to consider yourself qualified for putting $ instead of S in MS?

    And Paint.NET’s source is not locked by Microsoft. Its rights are reserved by dotPDN, LLC.

    btw, how about this:-

    Installer size:
    Paint.NET: 3.6 MB <– score 10
    GIMP: 23.3 MB <– score 03

    Always keep your facts straight, put things into perspective & justify! (as opposed to be a typical troll against a company). Being a Web-apps developer & designer, I use the following platforms:

    Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET MVC3, MVVM & PHP for development
    MS Expression Blend (Sketch Flow) for prototyping
    Adobe Dreamweaver & MS Expression Web for web-designing
    Adobe Photoshop with VRay, Microsoft Expression Design, Adobe Illustrator for vector and raster graphics

    All of them are comparable and I enjoy variety of features offered by them rather being a sealed-minded troll and lock myself to one platform!

    – raven

    • http://www.creastery.com Creastery

      Indeed, being flexible and trying out different softwares to do a specific task helps to brings more joy as well as convenience to what we are doing.

      There isn’t a “best” software for designing in my opinion, because all of them have different features and usefulness to different people :)

      It’ll be best to, as what you have mentioned above, test out different softwares to find out what suits one’s needs most.

  • irrevenoid

    You marked GIMP down for it’s multi-window interface. Firstly, (a) the windows are dockable, (b) an MDI version of GIMP (GIMPshop) is available if you want it and (c) single/multi-window is togglable in 2.7. But, more importantly, GIMP uses a multi-window interface for a reason – it works much better on multi-monitor setups. As far as I know, Paint.Net is MDI, which means that the dialogs can only be moved around within the main window, which is much more limited

    I’d also question how some of the scoring is weighted: Is startup time REALLY as important as interface or feature set? It’s a tiny proportion of the time a user actually spends with an application.

    An aside: On the topic of load time, GIMP’s is so high mostly because of the number of plugins it loads by default. It would be interesting to see the load time of Paint.net with a similar number of plugins installed so you can compare apples and apples.

    I agree with ZangDaQian too – GIMP deserves a point or two for being OpenSource. Raven has missed the point here: the advantage of Open Source is not about whether the average user needs to pop open the source and tweak something. It’s about, if the creators stop supporting it for whatever reason, can someone else take run with the project and keep it going? That’s what ZangDaQian refers to when he says Paint.Net is “locked”.

    An interesting thing this review demonstrates is that, which software package comes out on top depends not just on objective merit but also on what aspects the reviewer considers important. The question “Which package is better?” can only answered by addressing the corrolary – “Better at what, exactly?”. Obviously, I have personally leanings towards the things that the GIMP is better at. :)

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Thank you for your comment and the information about the multi-window interface.

      I do agree that my ratings were quite unfair and inappropriately weighted. Things like installer size and startup time is indeed not important compared to feature set.

      Both programs are excellent image editors and it ultimately depends on your needs and personal preferences. I currently actually prefer GIMP over Paint.NET.

      I will be sure to take your points into account in any future reviews I write.

      Best regards,
      Brian

  • Riyuga

    Hey there i have Gimp 2.6.11, Photoshop CS5.1 and Paint.Net and what all effects done in paint.net can be done in both gimp and photoshop and not only that gimp and photo shop can defeat paint.net my main gimp folder is 192 MB and my paint.net folder is only 18 MB

  • vinod

    The only two major drawbacks of paint.net are the missing of perspective transform and brush features. if these two are also added ; I don’t need any other image manipulators!!
    Transformation of image is so uncomfortable in GIMP that ..I felt just to uninstall it!! you have complete flip to rotate it or shear it or scale it . where as in Paint.net .alas!! scaling, rotating flipping all in single step.
    Yes it got one more drawback in printing selection. But MS paint covers that.

  • Roger Maxwell

    I started to use GIMP because I couldn’t afford PShop – although many years ago I used PS Elements, but I didn’t take any time to really use it. Since I’ve been doing photography as a hobby, I used GIMP and learned how to use it by watching MeetTheGimp.org which has excellent video tutorials.

    For my main photo editing software I use Adobe Lightroom which is much cheaper than PS and easier to use than GIMP, and I can do a ton of photo enhancing and managing. But I used to use GIMP to for pixel editing to remove a phone line, or a person’s head, or more detailed stuff I didn’t want in my photo. But it doesn’t have layering.

    When I recently heard of Paint.Net, and that it has layers I thought that I finally found a tool to take care of those unwanted items. Now, aside from installing Paint.Net I’ve only played around with a photo and one layer. But someone in this blog mentioned that you can’t do layer masks… Is this true? That’s a major feature I need to have. Also is there a good site that has video tutorials? – I haven’t found any that wonderful yet.

    Thanks.

    • http://www.creastery.com Creastery

      Hello Roger,
      Indeed, Paint.NET does not support layer mask yet (I hope they do in future).
      I would suggest you to try out the features one by one to understand how to use them, as I didn’t encounter many problem while experimenting on my own. Most of my problems were solved by searching online for answers.
      If you really need video tutorials, there are plenty of YouTube videos that teaches from basic to advanced techniques.

      Good luck and thank you for flying with TechAirlines!
      Creastery

  • Zoggo

    Wow, this article is so biased it makes me sick.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Sorry you feel that way. My newer comparison articles improve upon the criticism this article and a few others received.

  • B

    I’ve read this and it is true. However, I have and use both programs. And I don’t feel the need to get Photoshop. :]

    As for which I prefer…I’d say both. Gimp turns out quite a good tool for me in making lineart, while PDN is more for coloring and effects. Though I don’t mind using Gimp for those purposes as well. Also, I can use them if I want to make some changes in a photo. So, to me, it’s a tie. ^^

  • The Critic

    Really Paint.NET better than GIMP? I dont buy it, im just an avarage user and i have tried both softwares, i agree on a clustered UI in gimp but its really not that much harder to learn than paint.net. I prefer gimp just becuse its a much much more powerfull program in all aspects. Even the most basic tools that both of the programs have by default. Take the levels tool for example, the one that changes the colour levels in the image, the gimp version is smooth and precise, in paint.net its far from accurate, compare it to building lego with your hands and doing it with your feet. I bet you tried out paint.net first, then i can agree on dificulties finding the right tool and stuff like that, but as far as clustered, you can choose to work in fullscreen with gimp and there is a plugin that makes the tools windows float inside the image workspace, like they do in paint.net.

  • joe blow

    try having a second monitor your tools on one and work on the other.

  • ErgoAnalysis

    I’ve browsed the 3 years of commenters. YET NOT ONE COMMENT ON
    PEOPLES’ PHYSICAL MAKEUP VIS-A-VIS SOFTWARE PREFERENCES. SO HERE GOES.
    Some people alluded to either “less than 2 brain cells” or else
    “software appealing to oldies” both of which comments were lacking in
    the thoughtfulness to analyze human anatomy. You can choose to classify
    me as an oldie with 2 brain cells, because I vaguely remember using GIMP
    in the past, and my head swimming & feeling “outta my depth &
    over my head”. I also remember image extensions being converted from JPG
    to GMP, and scratching my head over it. And getting nowhere &
    giving up. So here’s my 2cents (to equal my 2cells). Just like some
    peoples’ bodies are naturally buffered from extreme spices, sodium &
    citrus (perhaps due to lesser tastebuds or fewer nerve endings),
    similarly, their “ironclad” constitutions may be buffered from cluttered
    visuals & complexities which can overwhelm the MINORITY of us
    “sensitives”. Unfortunately, that’s something which they NEVER teach
    programmers. NOR advertisers. You still have LOADS of programmers
    thinking that everyone can easily see tiny-white letters on dark
    backgrounds, amid endless clutter AND moving marquees. By the way,
    people who prefer extreme foods, also probably require extreme
    sweeteners added (any less may taste medicinal). Might that predispose
    them to diabetes?? Or might their extreme spices break down their
    pancreas? Similar to the boy who was born without feeling pain in nerve
    endings, whose body was a mass of bruises (yet he was a supremely happy
    kid)

  • harry

    i use photoshop, gimp, paint.net and several other remarkable programs. years ago i wrote a critical review of paint.net because it lacked the basics to do any professional work. at the time many were not happy with my comments but i did say it had great potential. now i am thrilled that many of those important things are part of paint.net. that means you have a pretty good program now. however its not in nor was ever intended to be (as far as i know) in the same class as photoshop or gimp … paint.net has the beauty of simplicity and it does most of the things people new to the art need .. its easy to learn and other than the startup double histogram its not intimating .. i love that screen and its quite valuable but often beginners wave their hand and walk away .. not wanting to be tortured by one more complexity that is beyond them … its not really and once past that you will have an interested artist in the making.. the beauty of paint.net however does not compare with the raw power and versatility of PS or Gimp .. the multi window mode in gimp is a blessing in a professional environment or when before and after shots need to be compared or with dual monitors.. i do a huge amount of photo editing.. often hundreds per day .. things that used to take me hours or even days are just seconds now .. i have pretty much automated a lot of things .. i love photoshop but am not happy with adobe .. i love gimp and am thrilled that it continues to improve at a high rate. i use a lot of programs but the one that stands out among my choices is gimp .. it does it all and in a competent way .. and i can load it on all my machines and all my disadvantaged students machines without worrying about stepping on some legal toes. even though cost is not the biggest reason for my personal choice the worry about violating some rule is .. and of course if you are talking about several machines then PS does get downright expensive .. for people just getting started paint.net is a great way to begin . i am very happy with the quality of its work for many things, the developers are doing a lot with so little footprint. .. if a person gets really good then Photoshop or Gimp is a great next step. PS and Gimp are complex for a reason, they can do complex things and do them at a professional level .. we are very lucky to have all of these really good choices.