still extremely under construction

Ms Paint Pains

It is no real secret that Microsoft Paint isn't exactly the best program for digital art of any kind. No layers, no opacity (almost; what it does have is extremely limited), and almost all of the brush tools have a set anti-aliasing effect that doesn't mesh well with the fill tool. And speaking of tools, half of the toolbox is taken up by various shape tools, only about five of which will ever be used.

However, it is perhaps this exact lack of functionality that has led me to continue using it even though there are about a trillion equally cheap (read: free) art software on the market. I like figuring out all the ways i can manipulate what little it has to produce greater results; or just mess with the skew tool for a few hours. So i think I know at least most of paint's tricks, and I figured I'd compile them here.


The contents of this guide apply to paint classic and certain points might not be true of that weird new version of paint with circle colors.

Transparent selection

If you click on the little drop-down menu on the select tool, there's a little checkbox for whether or not you want the selection to be 'transparent'. The transparent part is whatever you have your 'Color 2' set to, so it's only really useful if you have, like, a LOT of empty space around whatever you're trying to select. Luckily, the canvas can be resized at the drop of a hat, so you can make a bunch of components on a color 2 background and then fit them together, and then when you've got it how you like it, you can crop the canvas to perfectly fit your final piece.

Transparent selection is also required for making """custom brushes.""" These cannot be saved to use later unless you either memorize the specifications of their construction or keep them on a seperate .png image to copy+paste in whenever you need them.

Your 'shape' should now be a line, drawn with duplicates of that shape. Letting go of shift and the selection ends the line. If the selection is cancelled at the end of a line, you won't be able to pick the shape up again, so I like to keep a copy of 'em in a box to the side of what I'm working on.

Copy+Paste, Rotate and skew weirdness

pasted-in images initially appear in the top-left corner of the canvas, already selected, so you can move them to where you like. Sometimes it does not work. Specifically, I've had a problem with images deleting themselves after I've done the custom brush trick a lot.

You can also press/hold ctrl while carrying a selection to make a 'quick copy'. These can actually copy themselves, so if you quick copy, move the selection over and quick copy again without letting go of it, you leave a stamp.

Unfortunately, though, quick copies HATE the undo tool and tend to leave gashes where they were before. I don't know why this happens.

The rotate tools, for some unfathomable reason, do nearly the exact opposite, cutting off most of the selection after it's been rotated. I think it has something to do with the selection's aspect ratio? Regardless, this can be fixed by, for some reason, resizing the selection. It's important to note that the flip tools don't do this.

The skew tool is so rarely used I contemplated not mentioning it. Sure, it could be useful, but it doesn't work in a particularly intuitive way. As in, I'd have to do math to get the exact amount of skew i need. Mostly I just mess with scaling the values until the shape edges dissapear.

Shape Tool Outline and Fill Types

These are pretty easy to intuit: The outline type affects the outline of a shape (with color 1) and the fill type affects the inside (with color 2, if you have fill turned on). The outline and fill types are based on the brush tools, minus the default brush, calligraphy pens and airbrush, and behave pretty much exactly how you'd expect. The brush fill types, crucially, have just a smidge of varied opacity to them, so you can create texture plates by layering them directly on top of each other in slightly different colors.

One fill i definitely use more than most is the marker fill, since I can use it to quickly find a sort-of-correct color to shade with. It always desaturates the color below it, though, so I have to be careful about that.

Other weird stuff

I recently discovered that after some largeish number of revisions to an image, some stuff just kind of stops working. It proabably has something to do with the program being extremely old.