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.
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.
During program operation, Paint.NET runs very smoothly while GIMP may randomly freeze and/or crash.
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.
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 takes this round for providing a clean and uncluttered interface.
GIMP: 3 (6 total)
Paint.NET: 5 (10 total)
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.
Now let’s take my twisted photo of New York Harbor and apply the Emboss effect on it.
Both include artistic effects, such as cartoon and oil painting.
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…
Windows 7 Taskbar Support
Paint.NET integrates with Windows 7 taskbar for the progresss bars of extended tasks such as applying effects.
Paint.NET: +1 bonus point (20 total)
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)
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!
And the winner is…
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
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!