Named after Microsoft's ".NET" libraries and framework used to write the software, Paint.NET is an image editing program, similar to the likes of Adobe Photoshop or Corel Paint shop Pro. What started out as an open-source computer science senior design project, developed by Rick Brewster at Washington State University in 2004 turned into a free, lightweight, and popular image editor alternative to Photoshop. Used by many YouTubers, Poopers and non-poopers alike. (The project eventually went closed-source from version 3.5 onwards).
Paint.NET is different from Photoshop in that it's vary bare-bones by comparison. You're given a very basic interface with not that many options to add effects or adjustments to your image, with a very small tool set.
You have your basic stuff like
- Clone Stamp
- Shape creation
- Paint bucket
- Magic Wand
- Circle, Rectangle and Lasso selection tools
Some see this as a positive, others don't. The beauty of Paint.NET is that you can add plugins to give more functionality that's lacking in the stock program. Adding things like object alignment, drop shadows, outlines, re-editable text and even a Photoshop-like Lquify tool. The plugins are in .dll format and are easily installed. Just drag and drop the dll into the "Effects" folder in your Paint.NET installation directory, restart the program if it's already open and you're good to go.
Others have complained about its lack of features such as a context aware scale tool, many layer matte options are missing, re-editable text without a plugin, Selection expansion and contraction options, a magnetic lasso tool and more. It's a very basic kind of program at its base level when compared to Photoshop.
So, if you want a piece of software to act as a stepping stone to Photoshop, you want a better image editor than MS Paint but can't afford or don't want to crack Photoshop, something more lightweight and snappier or hell, just for something different, Paint.NET is not a bad choice to go for.