Draw and Color with Microsoft Paint

You don't need complex software like Photoshop to make great art! MS Paint, which comes with all copies of Microsoft Windows, is a perfectly capable program which you can use to make fun drawings. This article will teach you how to use both the old and new versions of the program, as well as some helpful other tips. Just get started with Step 1 below!


Using Classic Paint

  1. Sketch with the pencil tool. Using the pencil tool, sketch your drawing. This works best if you use a color other than black.
  2. Create your main lines. Using the pencil tool, draw in the main lines of your drawing. These can be sketchy or you can work extra hard to get them clean-looking.
  3. Fill in your base colors. Use the fill tool to fill in your base colors into your entire drawing. You'll want to zoom in in order to catch all of the little gaps that can be created.
    • The fill tool looks like a paint bucket being poured out.
  4. Make your fill shading lines. Use the pencil tool to draw a line that makes up the edge of your shading area. It's okay if it overlaps your black edges a little bit. This is easy to go over and fix later. The color that you use to draw your line should be the same color that you will use to create the shadows and highlights.
  5. Add shadows. Use the fill tool to fill in your shading areas, using a deep value color than your base tone.
  6. Add highlights. Use the fill tool to fill in your highlighted areas, using a lighter value color than your base tone.
  7. Done! You can create more details and textures by hand but this is the majority of the process. Keep practicing!

Using New Paint

  1. Work in a good file size. Since MS Paint works with very basic pixels, if you want to make your drawing really nice you'll need to increase the canvas size. Do this by clicking the resize button and set the dimensions somewhere above 2000 pixels.
  2. Sketch your picture and upload it to your computer. This process will be much faster if you do a real-life sketch and scan it or photograph it in order to get it on your computer. You can also sketch the picture in MS Paint, but you will need to sketch it in very light gray.
    • If you do scan your drawing, just open the file in MS Paint in order to start turning it into a beautiful drawing, but be sure you have the original sketch saved separately somewhere else too (in case you make mistakes and need to start over).
  3. Create your main lines. Using the curve tool, create the main lines of your drawing in black. Find a single continuous line (like the upper arch of the eye) and click on the beginning and then then end of the line. Then, use your mouse to grab the straight line that was created and pull it into the curve to match your sketch. Do this until all your drawing is recreated in black.
    • The black is important. You can always change the color of these outline lines later, but for now do them in black.
  4. Clean up your line work. Now it's time to get rid of that sketch! Click select, right-click on the picture, and then invert the colors. Then switch the color to strict black and white by clicking File → Properties. Click OK, let it make the switch, and then switch it back into color the same way. Invert the picture again and you'll have clean art.
    • Saving a copy of just your plain black lines can be really helpful, especially if you make a mistake and need to restore them.
  5. Fill in your base colors. Use the fill tool to fill in all of your base colors. Make sure that you get all of the little extra pixels that can get caught between lines that are close together or angles.
  6. Add highlights, shadows, and midtones. Now for the fun part. Select all and copy your drawing as it is now. Then, choose an area that you want to shade (say, the hair). Select that base color and set it to color 2. Then, make color 1 your shading color. Use any of the tools to do the shading however you like. Don't worry about going over your black lines! Just do one area (with the same base color) at a time.
  7. Create "layers". Now to get rid of the colors that got outside of your lines! Zoom out so that you can see your whole drawing, click select, right click the picture, and paste in the base you copied earlier. Now for the magic. Go over and click the down arrow under select. Then click transparent selection. Ta-da!
  8. Continue until done. Keep doing this same process for each area and each shade until you are happy with your drawing!

Learning What You Can Do

  1. Work with the limitations of the program. What you have to keep in mind is that MS Paint is not Photoshop. Don't expect to be able to get a Photoshop look with your drawings. You can make nice pictures but they have a very particular look to them. Embrace it. You should also keep in mind that the files save with poorer quality than programs like Photoshop, so don't expect them to print well at high resolutions.
  2. Make the changes that you can. Know what sort of changes you can make to existing images, like photographs. MS Paint isn't Photoshop, but some basic tweaks can be achieved using the program. You can do things like:
    • Crop images. Cropping in MS paint can actually be easier than in some other programs, since all you have to do is drag around the corners of the image.
    • Cover small problems. Copying and pasting small selections that can band-aid small problems with an image is pretty easy with MS Paint, as long as you're patient.
    • Correct red eye. If you have some dark pixels you can copy and paste or if you feel like you can use the freehand tools, then fixing red eye is very doable in a program like MS Paint.
  3. Experiment with other programs. If you're using MS Paint because you think you can't get a better program, don't worry. There are other options out there. Be sure to check out these alternatives to help you on your road to digital art mastery:
    • One program that you might find useful is a free program called Oekaki. This is similar in look to MS Paint but has many more features. You don't even have to download anything. Many websites have Oekaki as an app within a web browser. This program allows some actual layers, much like Photoshop, which means you can make much nicer pictures.
    • If you want to use a program that is more powerful but you don't want to spend the money on Photoshop, know that there are alternatives. Paint Tool Sai, Manga Studio, and many other programs which are similar to Photoshop can be purchased for $20-50.


  • Saving in GIF is good for flat colors (e.i., non-shaded material) and animations, PNG is best for shaded work, and JPEG is best for photographs. BMP is not recommended, because you tend to lose color quality. Keep this in mind when saving your art.
  • You can also zoom in and out to help you if it gets really fiddly, by pressing "view" then "zoom" in the top left corner of your screen.
  • Practice makes perfect!
  • Practice and fool around with the other tools until you get the hang of it.
  • When using the fill tool, make sure all pixels of the same color are connected. Using the fill tool with gaps in this border will cause other areas to be filled as well.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Paint

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