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File:Mspaint.png

Microsoft Paint (usually shortened to MSPaint) is a picture editing program that has been included as a free tool with Windows since the very first version (although it was named "Paintbrush", rather than "Paint", during the Windows 3.x era) and always maintained alongside later versions. It is a relatively simple program, offering the bare necessities to create and alter pictures. Due to the fact that it has been offered free with the single most popular operating system series in computing history, it is also the most widely familiar picture editor. Due to its simplicity, however, it is not used by professionals.

In the context of art and Web Comics, MSPaint is used as a term to refer to both an artwork style and an implied resulting quality (note that many of the below issues don't apply to the version of Paint that came with Windows 7):

  • Due to lack of support for digitizer tablets, things tend to either look really wobbly due to the awkwardness of drawing with the mouse or too straight due to usage of line tools.
  • Due to a lack of gradient shading support and the difficulty of manipulating patches of colors that aren't exactly identical, colors tend to be flat.
  • Resizing images tend to look shoddy due to the program handling it by adding or subtracting identical rows/columns of pixels; though since at least the XP version, at least some measure of interpolation is done when sizing down.
  • Copy and paste elements not created by the program tend to look glaringly out of place due to a lack of tools to adapt said elements. It also generally discourages using multiple elements due to its use of a single layer.
  • Paint also has problems with image compression:
    • The GIF format would be appropriate, but uses 256 colors and Paint does not provide color quantization algorithms: Even in pictures with fewer than 256 colors, Paint systematically uses the system palette and screws up the colors. Besides, GIF transparency support fails in the Windows XP version.
    • The PNG format is handled mostly correctly, although the compression is pretty sub-optimal. Windows 7 Paint defaults to PNG.
    • The JPEG format is not appropriate for most PrintScreen shots and drawings with flat colors and clean edges, due to being a lossy compression that works wonders on photographs. While this is a universal fact not limited to Paint, the problem is that Paint in Vista defaults to it, while Paint's main usages are saving PrintScreen shots and drawings with flat colors and clean edges.
    • Early versions had the opposite issue, that all images were saved as uncompressed bitmaps. That means that a 2048x2048 expanse of white could easily take up over 8 MB of space.

All of this tends to give it a very computerized look. Anyone that has used the program should be familiar with how it generally looks by now.

The term generally gets applied to things that exhibit this (usually unintentional) art style, but has also seen use as an insult against artists. Referring to something as a "Microsoft Paint picture" when it is clear that it couldn't have been made by that program is to suggest that it has a banal simplicity, a rushed feel or both. Conversely, actually bad artists (particularly those that make bad sprite comics) will blame the low quality of their work on "only having Paint." On the other hand, however, showing how you made a complex picture with MS Paint is one of the best ways to score massive artistic cred.

The majority of pure Sprite Comics use Microsoft Paint. It is one of the few fields where using Adobe Photoshop or some other program doesn't really offer much of an advantage. Some Pixel Art Comics use Paint as well, but due to such images being completely new artwork, pixel artists usually want the features of something more advanced. Microsoft Paint also lends itself well to extremely simple designs.

Windows 7 features an upgraded Paint that is actually a big improvement. It now supports different brush types for blending images/colors and support for adding objects seamlessly onto the image.


Webcomics that specifically use the MSPaint style include:

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