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tom moody


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Paintbrush vs. Paint

MSPaintbrush is a 165K graphics program that shipped with Windows prior to 1995. Bill Gates & crew did not create it; as with many of their products they acquired it, in this case by buying a company called ZSoft. When Windows 95 came along, Microsoft supposedly "improved" the product and changed the name to MSPaint: it's still part of the Windows accessory package. As an artist I greatly prefer Paintbrush to Paint, and was lucky to track down an abandonware version so I can keep using it (to draw portraits, molecules, and the like).

What are the differences? In Paintbrush the zoom requires less steps to activate. You can also zoom out to see the entire image, which for some reason you can't do in Paint. Paintbrush has more brush, spray, and eraser sizes. A newly-pasted image in Paintbrush has a clear background, so you can immediately see how it layers over an existing image; in Paint the default is opaque. Paintbrush colors are customized with simple, easy-to-use RGB sliders, as opposed to Paint's "color picker" spectrum, which, again, requires more steps.

But the most crucial difference, for me, is the output of the "spraycan" tool. In Paintbrush (see sphere at left) it's like crosshatching; the effect is much more volumetric and seductive, once you get the hang of using it. Paint (sphere at right) has a fast, user-friendly, point-and-spray dot-dispersion pattern, but to me it looks like bad 70s airbrush art.

It's more of struggle to blend from dark to light in Paintbrush using those crosshatch dots (each is a spritz of the spraycan). I can see where the Microsoft techies thought they were improving the program, and for most people they probably were, but I like the grittier, clumsier feel of the crosshatching compared to the smoother pointillism, and even more important, the ability to create rich, intermediate grays. By eliminating the struggle they greatly reduced the potential beauty of the finished image.

- tom moody 1-24-2003 6:48 pm [link]