Learning the Basics of Paint.net

 Paint.net is a free software download from getpaint.net, and is one of our most used and favourite design tools.

It’s ideal for anyone wanting to design their own logos, ads, Youtube thumbnails and any other images which may require slightly more advanced editing or laying one item on top of another.

If you can’t afford (or be bothered to learn how to use) Photoshop, Paint.net would be our recommendation. It’s so useful and you can’t get cheaper than free!

Make no mistake, the tool does require a bit of learning, so what we’ve focused on in this particular tutorial are the key differences between this and other basic tools you may be familiar with, such as Microsoft Paint.

Once you really get your head around only a couple of functions with Paint.net, the software is easy to use with minimal frustration.

Important functions using Paint.net

1. Selecting and Moving Pixels

If you’re only used to using basic tools like MS Paint, you’ll be familiar with selecting a part of the image, then being able to move the selected area somewhere else on the page. With Paint.net, these are two separate tools.

Move and Select pixels“Select pixels” and “move pixels” can be found in the toolbar, or it’s quicker to just use your keyboard shortcuts to select the necessary function:

  • ‘S’ = Select the area you want to edit/move
  • ‘M’ = Move the selected area (must have the correct layer selected)

2. Having the Correct Layer Selected

In the very beginning of learning how to use Paint.net, it’s important to understand that you’re going to need not only the right part of the image selected to edit it, but the right layer selected as well. Correct Layer

If you’re trying to make some sort of changes to your image and nothing is happening, these are the two questions you must ask yourself:

  • Do I have the right part of my image selected?
  • Do I have the right layer selected?

Working with Layers

This is probably the biggest difference in using Paint.net compared to simple tools such as MS Paint… layers.

Having the ability to edit an individual layer of the image gives us so much more flexibility in creating a complex final image.

Not only that, but it gives us room to go back and change things later if we need to, without having to mess around with anything else on other layers.

This is why we would recommend to have every separate part of your image on a separate layer – it’s the easiest way to create an image with minimal confusion. But first you must understand how they work…

A standard Paint.net blank document starts with one white layer, as in a white sheet of paper. Remember white is not transparent, the grey and white checkerboard is when it means it’s transparent (as long as you save your image as a .PNG file).

So if you want to add text and edit only the text, the easiest way to do that is to create a new layer immediately before entering any text, so this way the only thing on the new layer will be the text, and not a white background to go with it.

If you try and change the colour of the text for example on a layer with a white background, you’re likely to have difficulties. Keep things simple for yourself and have every new item on a new layer.

Once you click “add new layer” using the button in the layer pop out window, imagine a new layer of plastic on top of the white background. It is here where you can add your text and be comfortable knowing you’ll only be editing the text.

It’s critical you understand these fundamentals to use Paint.net effectively.

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