The .PSD file format reflects the features of Adobe Photoshop. Paint.NET is a much simpler program than Photoshop, so there will be areas where the features do not overlap. This may cause some issues when trying to load .PSD files created in
- Memory exhaustion due to too many layers
Photoshop stores only the non-empty rectangle from each layer. However, every layer in Paint.NET occupies the full dimensions of the image. Thus, a small Photoshop file with many layers will take up much more memory when loaded into Paint.NET than
when loaded into Photoshop. Graphic designers often use lots of layers that each affect only a small portion of the image. This can easily cause Paint.NET to run out of memory.
- Symptoms: Paint.NET becomes nonresponsive, and hard disk starts thrashing.
- How to diagnose: Open Task Manager (Ctrl-Shift-Escape) and check how much memory Paint.NET is using.
- Workaround: Reduce the number of layers in Photoshop by combining some layers.
- More information: Even though Paint.NET does not support partial layers, the plugin will still save only the non-empty rectangle from each layer. Thus, it will still load efficiently back into Photoshop.
- Color profile mismatches
Photoshop is a color-managed application. However, Paint.NET is not.
- Symptoms: Files in non-RGB colorspaces, especially CMYK and Lab, look dramatically different in Photoshop and in Paint.NET.
- Workaround: Switch to RGB, and use the default sRGB profile in Photoshop.
- Text layers, vector masks, other non-raster features
Although Photoshop started as a raster image editor, it has slowly been acquiring vector features over time. However, Paint.NET is a raster-only image editor.
- Text layers load into Paint.NET as raster images. The image will look correct, but the text will be non-editable.
- Vector masks are ignored, so parts of the image will appear visible that should be masked out.
- Workaround: Stick to the raster features in Photoshop.
Paint.NET ships with only the native .PDN file format supporting layers – other file formats flatten the image. Thus, the Photoshop .PSD file format provides a convenient way of interchanging work between Paint.NET and other applications. Photoshop
files are widely used in the graphics community, and many non-Adobe applications also have the ability to read and write .PSD files.
To maximize compatibility:
- Tick the “Maximize Compatibility” checkbox when saving files in Photoshop.
- Stick to the common layer blend modes, as listed in the section below. If you work with a program other than Photoshop, you may have to limit yourself further, as some of them implement fewer blend modes than Paint.NET does.
- Use Photoshop as a raster image editor. Avoid the vector features.
Layer Blend Modes
The following blending modes are common to both Paint.NET and Photoshop:
|Paint.NET Blend mode
||Photoshop blend mode
||Photoshop blend mode key
||Linear Dodge (Add)
The following Photoshop blend modes do not exist in Paint.NET, and are therefore loaded as normal layers:
|Photoshop blend mode
||Photoshop blend mode key
The following Paint.NET blend modes are not available in the Photoshop file format specification, and are therefore saved as normal layers:
The plugin is parallelized, so it will make use of a multi-core or multi-processor system to speed up the loading/saving of files. This is most useful if you have a large number of layers, or if you are loading non-RGB or RLE-compressed files.
The parallelization is done at the granularity of layers or channels, using the Paint.NET thread pool. Once Paint.NET moves onto the .NET Framework 4.0, I plan to use the Parallel Extensions for .NET to parallelize at a finer granularity.