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I am a professional photographer and digital retoucher withteaching experience.

I have been looking for open source photoshop like softwareto recommend to students that cannot afford to spend money for software.

I have been aware of Gimp for some years now, but inrecently coming across paint.net have to say I’m quite impressed. Let me saybefore I continue that I am not going to try to compare paint.net to AdobePhotoshop that is for the professionaluser.

Much of the work I do in Photoshop requires using fewfeatures for best results. As a photographer there are some changes I feelwould make a big difference to this software.


The lasso tool is one of the most powerful tools for turningan average photo into a professional image. I like the way the lasso tool worksbut one change would make a big difference. The lasso tool needs a featheroption.

If you make adjustments to the brightness and contrast by either usingthis option or by using levels or curves you can gain great contrast whilelosing detail in the highlights. The image would look noticeably better at thecost of losing fine detail. By using the lasso to make selective adjustmentsyou can create balance and an image. The lasso tool is an option that works great in Gimp as it has a feather option. The feather will allow selected areas to be adjusted without leaving sharp edges as the adjustment graduates into the surrounding area.

I also use the Lasso tool instead of applying a layer mask.The Lasso tool is very versatile and the tool I use most in Photoshop. Withoutthis tool I would not be able to produce images at the high quality my imagesare produced to.

Layer Mask

Layer mask is great for combining two or more images. Thisis an option that would be great on Paint.net. When you apply a layer mask to alayer you can paint with black to reveal the laver underneath. The benefit ofusing a layer mask is you can make changes at any time and you don’t have torepeatedly undo as you use the white paint brush to paint back in detail thathas been erased. Layer mask makes for easier adjustments but images can be combinedusing the eraser tool. Again though you cannot take full advantage of theeraser tool unless a feather option is added. Another great tool is thepolygonal lasso tool that can help with making selections. This hasn’t been designedyet so I would like to point out that a feather option added to the polygonallasso would be a great option.


Gimp does have a Liquefy option of it’s own. The benefit to this is you canwarp images slightly. The amateur photography may not be that great at takingphotographs and as such make compositional mistakes that could for example exaggeratefacial features. A liquefy option can help do things like reduce double chinsect. Gimp’s version does not work that great but it does work.

Let me add though that Liquefy is not an important additionand would be too difficult for most people to use. This is an option that Ilike to teach students and would love to see on Paint.net


Clone tool also needs a feather option


Brushes also needs a feather option

Spot removal

A spot removal tool would be great as this will allow forretouching that can help produce a very clean and professional looking image.

Hue and Saturation

Entry level digital SLR cameras and point and shoot camerasare designed to produce impressive images straight out of camera. The problemwith this is some images can have too much saturation in one of the colors. Evenin professional cameras this can sometimes be a problem. If the Hue andSaturation adjustment would include a drop down menu to allow for adjustmentsto red, green, or blue individually overly saturated colors can be balanced out.

Replace Color

Replace color option will allow you to click on a color toadjust the brightness, saturation, or hue of that color. This could be added tothe adjustments bar. With a feather option you can adjust how much color near to the chosen color will become adjusted.

Gamut warning

There is a big difference between the number and quality of colors seen on a PC monitor and thecolors that can be printed. A gamut warning option will turn to gray colorsthat cannot be printed. This will allow you to make adjustments to your pictureso that what you see on your monitor is what you get on your final print. It isvery common for blues to not print correctly and skies can be printed lookinggray. If the sky is grayed out you can click on it using replace color (notcurrently available) and adjust the hue. By doing this you can choose a bluecolor that both looks good for the sky and can be printed.


Gimp works great but I prefer the simplicity of paint.net and it’s overall design that feels a lot like using Adobe Photoshop. I can currently do more with Gimp but would prefer touse paint.net after some improvements have been made.

My interest in software like Paint.net and Gimp is I like toprovide a lecture demonstrations on open software to show students that they can getprofessional results without having to pay a ridiculous amount of money. Ofcourse as a professional I use Adobe Photoshop as it has options thatprofessionals like myself must have. The truth is though few people (including most professional photographers) knowenough about Photoshop to do what it is designed for and as such can do everything they need to do in open source software.

The modifications I have suggested would transform thissoftware from good to something that totally kicks a**. With these modifications even photography students studying for a masters degree would be able to produce top quality professional images that can help them achieve good grades. The modifications I have suggested are not simple to make and will require a lot of time to change. I have written this article to give ideas towards possible future development that will turn this software into something every photographer or photography student would need to produce best results using software produced for the amateur or sole trader (professional photographer).

Off the subject I would like to comment slightly on Rawconversion. I have seen it mentioned but I don’t feel that this is somethingPaint.net needs. I purchased professional software for converting Raw files andtruth be told I just simply wasted my money! Rawshooter Essentials is by farthe best Raw converter software I have ever used and it is free open sourcesoftware. I use Rawshooter Essentials and will only use Rawshooter Essentials.Trust the professional you don’t need anything else. There seems to be a slightproblem though and that is some people cannot open their files in Rawshootersince raw files are all native to the camera model the images were taken on.Well, Adobe have produced free software that can convert a Raw file to anotherRaw file called Adobe Digital Negativ. Because it is by Adobe it can be updated to recognizenew raw files. Rawshooter Essentials will open Adobe raw files that can then beconverted to jpeg.

I am a little busy right now but when I get time I intend toproduce tutorials on how to use Paint.net and Gimp as well as Rawshooterexplaining how to get professional quality results. Should the creators of thissoftware wish for me to provide tutorials for members please contact me. I wouldbe happy to help as this is the only way I am able to provide support.

Thanks Craig

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Reading your post gives me the sense that you've never played with plugins to Paint.NET. You might want to download the various plugin packs that are "stickied" in the Plugin forum.

For example:

There is a "feather" plugin in my plugin pack.

You may also like my "Color Balance" effect plugin.

For instructions on how to download and install plugins, look here: http://www.boltbait.com/pdn/InstallingEffects.php

Hope this helps.

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