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what are the best plugins? and the best way to shade art

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"Best" is subjective.  The most useful plugin to you totally depends on your artistic style.


In order to keep paint.net performant, I would suggest installing only the plugins you actually use on a regular basis.


Try installing a few plugins and see if they are useful to you.


I recommend starting with the plugin packs that are pinned and starred in this forum: https://forums.getpaint.net/forum/44-plugin-packs/

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I suggest looking through the tutorials to find ones that do the type of things you're interested in doing. You can then download the plugins those tutorials use.


For certain type of objects, my height map plugins, such as the Texture Shader and Texture Merger, are useful, but generally not so much for things like people and trees. Maybe try the Brush Factory, since that sort of thing pretty much has to be done by hand painting.


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