1. Overview

In this tutorial, we’ll look at seven Linux alternatives to Microsoft Paint. Each tool has unique features that make it versatile for different image editing and drawing needs. We’ll look at their strengths.

Most of these tools are available via Snap, Flatpak, or AppImage, making them easy to install on almost any Linux distribution.

2. Pinta

Pinta offers drawing tools, image filters, color adjustment tools, and support for multiple image layers. Pinta’s interface is designed for ease of use, with unlimited undo history, multi-language support, and a flexible toolbar layout.

Let’s install it:

$ sudo snap install pinta

Let’s try Pinta to crop a photo, remove the classic red-eye effect caused by a flash, correct colors, and add text:

The result is more than satisfactory compared to the original photo.

3. KolourPaint

KolourPaint is an easy-to-use paint program designed for KDE. It mirrors the functionality of the classic Microsoft Paint, but adds features like transparency support, color balancing, filters, and image rotation. Ideal for everyday tasks such as simple drawings, diagrams, and basic image editing, KolourPaint aims to be accessible to the average user.

Let’s install it:

$ sudo snap install kolourpaint

Let’s say we need to publish a photo taken in a hospital with the requirement that the faces of the patients should not be visible for privacy reasons. KolourPaint fits the bill:

This and other common tasks are very easy with KolourPaint.

4. MyPaint

MyPaint is a digital painting application designed specifically for painters and digital artists. It supports pressure-sensitive graphics tablets and focuses on a simple, distraction-free environment with a wide range of brushes and a customizable interface. MyPaint is ideal for creating digital art, concept sketches, and illustrations.

Let’s install it:

$ flatpak install --from https://flathub.org/repo/appstream/org.mypaint.MyPaint.flatpakref

In our case, the application icon appeared immediately after the installation was completed. If this isn’t the case, we need to log out and log in again as described in the installation instructions.

This program is especially good for freehand drawing. Let’s try to draw a cat:

MyPaint also supports vector layers, but they cannot be painted on directly and are primarily managed by external applications such as Inkscape.

5. Tux Paint

Tux Paint is a drawing program designed for young children. It’s easy to use, with a variety of tools such as brushes, stamps, lines, shapes, text, and a unique magic tool. The program also features sound effects and a cartoon mascot at the bottom of the screen to guide kids through the application.

Let’s install it:

$ flatpak install flathub org.tuxpaint.Tuxpaint

Let’s try it without any artistic expectations:

We should keep in mind that this program is more of a game than a drawing program in the usual sense.

6. Drawpile

Drawpile is a unique program that stands out for its collaborative drawing capabilities. We can draw with collaborators on the same canvas over a network, making Drawpile perfect for shared art projects or collaborative drawing sessions. It also includes chat and basic drawing tools for individual use.

Let’s install it:

$ flatpak install flathub net.drawpile.drawpile

We recorded one user opening a remote session at pub.drawpile.net and another user joining that session to collaborate on the same slide. In the upper left corner of the video, we added the labels “Computer 1” and “Computer 2” to make it clearer how the session progressed:

In real-time, both collaborators saw the changes on the same canvas. So, when the second user added the map, it appeared to the first user as well.

7. mtPaint

mtPaint is a lightweight paint program for creating icons, pixel art and manipulating indexed palette images. Thus, mtPaint is designed to create images at the pixel level, resulting in a distinct, often retro-styled, blocky appearance. It’s a technique reminiscent of early computer and video game graphics, where limited resolution and color palettes were the norm.

There are no Snap or Flatpak packages for mtPaint, but it’s available in the repositories of major Linux distributions. For example, on Debian-based systems, we can install it with apt:

$ sudo apt install mtpaint

We can also use mtPaint to create ASCII art, useful for displaying logos in Bash scripts or other terminal output. Let’s try to recreate the Baeldung logo at pixel level and export it as ASCII text:

The result is very good. The key was to convert the image from RGB to a two-color index palette before scaling it. mtPaint also allows freehand drawing of icons and logos and the creation of animated GIFs. There is also integration with GIMP.

8. GIMP

GIMP is a powerful open-source image manipulation program that serves as an excellent Linux alternative to Microsoft Paint and a free counterpart to Adobe Photoshop. Designed for a wide range of users, including photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, and even scientists, it provides tools for high-quality image manipulation, from basic photo retouching to advanced creative compositing.

On the other hand, its advanced features can make it seem too complicated for beginners. However, once we become familiar with its operating logic, GIMP can become our indispensable tool for any form of image editing.

Let’s install it:

$ sudo snap install gimp

We won’t discuss GIMP’s extensive feature set, which includes layers, masks, filters, and special effects, or its vast array of plugins, scripts, and extensions, such as the well-known G’MIC.

Instead, let’s try something simple, like correcting the orientation of an image, cropping it, improving its colors, removing an unwanted object, in this case, the garbage bag on the beach, and adding the sun:

Compared to the original photo, the result is excellent and easy to achieve.

9. Conclusion

In this article, we looked at a number of Linux alternatives to Microsoft Paint, each offering unique features and capabilities:

  • Pinta → drawing tools, image filters, color adjustment tools, multiple image layers
  • KolourPaint → easy-to-use paint program for KDE, similar to Microsoft Paint
  • MyPaint → freehand drawing with extensive brush library, full screen mode, and pressure-sensitive tablet support
  • Tux Paint → child-friendly, game-like drawing program
  • Drawpile → collaborative drawing program
  • mtPaint → pixel art and indexed palette images, ideal for detailed icon design
  • GIMP → advanced image editor similar to Adobe Photoshop

Whether we’re looking for simple drawing tools, advanced image editing, or collaboration capabilities, these programs offer a wide range of options on Linux platforms. The right tool depends on our specific needs and skill level, so it’s worth trying a few to see which one fits best.

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