image editor Notes

by Blaze

mtpaint 3.31 screenshot
with 'Scale Canvas' dialog
used to resize an image

Home > RefInfo menu > Computer topics menu > Linux Guides/Notes by Blaze menu > This mtPaint GuideByBlaze page

! Preliminary ! More notes and links will probably be added to this page in coming years.

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Introduction :

The title above specifies 'Notes' rather than 'Guide'. Initially, this page is meant as a collection place for notes on using mtPaint. So initially, this page is 'Notes', NOT a 'Guide'.

It will turn into a 'Guide' IF I ever collect enough notes that they can be organized into a fairly complete reference work for mtPaint. (That will probably never happen because there are many options --- and entire menus --- that I will never have a reason to use.)

A stumbling block to wide-spread 'acceptance' of mtPaint :

In a magazine review of 'mtPaint' in the 2009-2010 time frame, the author mentioned having a problem with how to cut-or-copy and paste (a portion of an image). I too had this problem. I finally found, via persistent web searching, a forum note that explains how cut-and-paste works in 'mtPaint'.

The technique is really quite simple and powerful and well-implemented --- it's just that it is not intuitively obvious --- and it differs from the way Paste works in similar light-weight image editor programs, such as 'Irfanview' for MS Windows. The 'mtPaint' Paste technique is the topic of one of the notes below.

As mentioned in that note below, an apparent documenter of 'mtPaint' ('wjaguar' = Dmitry Groshev, who is also a maintainer) admits (in 2006) that this was an oversight in the 'mtPaint' documentation.

The only way a person could deduce how cut-and-paste works, from the documentation, is from one line in the 'Appendix' on 'Keyboard Shortcuts', where it mentions that the Enter/Return key is the shortcut for Paste --- or, more precisely, the shortcut for committing a Paste, after you have positioned an image segment where you want it.

Nice basic features :

I think 'mtPaint' is the best 'light-weight' image editor on Linux that I have found --- after extensive web searching to find a replacement for 'Irfanview' on MS Windows. I was looking for an editor (for JPEG, PNG, and GIF files) that accomplishes the five or so basic (interactive) image-processing functions that I typically have a need for:

  • (fast, interactive) cropping

  • (fast, interactive) image resizing

  • (fast, interactive) gamma-correction (brightening or darkening an image)

  • image touch up, down to pixel editing when necessary --- with an array of 'brushes' available --- along with easy picking of a color from the image itself

  • control over compression in saving JPEG and PNG files

  • undo (and redo) for the first four of these image editing operations


  • an image editor that hardly ever crashes or locks up.
    (I have not had a crash yet in mtPaint and I have used it on over 1,000 image files. No lockups or frustrating un-reversible view settings. mtPaint is well de-bugged.)

[To handle some batch processing options of Irfanview, which are NOT available in mtPaint, I have devised some Nautilus scripts using ImageMagick. Those scripts are available elsewhere on this site --- and they are available as a package of 450-plus shell scripts at freedomenv.com.]

'mtPaint' also has 'layer' features and other features that I have not needed to try yet (in 2009-2010). So these notes do not initially deal with 'layers' and other 'exotic' features, and hence, initially, these are 'Notes', NOT a 'Guide'.

    UPDATE: Around 2011-2012, I was trying a 'layer' option in 'mtpaint' and found that I was locked out of restarting 'mtpaint' by an error condition. I eventually found the problem was a corrupted '.mtpaint' config file in the home directory. Simply deleting/renaming that file and allowing 'mtpaint' to re-create it got me out of that jam. Since then, I have not tried using layers, and have had no real need to. Perhaps Groshev or some other maintainer will fix this in a future release.

No tutorials ?

I find it amazing (in 2009 and 2010) that there is so much written about GIMP in magazine articles, reviews, forums, etc. --- and almost nothing is written about 'mtPaint'. It is almost impossible to find a 'tutorial' on even a small 'mtPaint' project --- such as crop, resize, or copy-paste --- on the Internet in 2010. And yet 'mtPaint' does almost all the basics that your 'average joe' would need for image editing.

So this is my attempt to start helping document 'mtPaint' a little more, if only for myself, to remind myself how to do things after I am away from the software for a while. This page will be a place to collect my notes (and screenshots) while using 'mtPaint'.

In addition to notes, I will occasionally add links to web pages that provide useful info on 'mtPaint' --- especially info that fills in 'holes' in the built-in mtPaint documentation (the 'handbook').

For convenience (easy reference), a 'local' link to an English version of the mtPaint documentation (the 'handbook') is in the Table of Contents section below.

And, if I can ever find any, I will provide links to tutorials on 'mtPaint' --- preferably links that look like they won't go dead in the next year or two.

The author --- 'mt' = Mark Tyler :   (and maintainers)

The original author of 'mtpaint', Mark Tyler, has gone on to other programming projects, and Dmitry Groshev (mentioned above) took over as maintainer, circa 2008.

Mark had an mtpaint-blog where he published eight, short 'how-to' guides.

He has taken his programming skills and applied them to a different project --- mtCellEdit --- a spreadsheet program. He has also packaged other utilities that he devised in doing that project --- such as a set of GUI-building utilities he calls 'mtMintKit', for Mark Tyler Minimal Tool Kit.

I hope that Groshev and others can keep 'mtpaint' available, through 2020 and beyond.

There was a '3.40' version released circa 2012. Most of the images on this page are from version '3.31' or before.

Navigation of this page :

To help find the notes on various topics, this page has a 'Table of Contents' that links to paragraphs further down the page. But that will not always be the best way to find information on this page, so ...

You can use the 'Find' option of your browser to find keywords on this page, such as 'cut' or 'paste' or 'brush' or 'select' or 'keyboard' or 'shortcut' or 'layer'.

mtPaint screenshot (Slightly out of date. mtPaint was at version 3.31 in 2009.)
For a more 'interesting' image, see an 'nl' (Netherlands) screenshot near the bottom of this page.

TABLE OF CONTENTS :   (links to sections below)

The content --- the notes --- start below.

< Go to TOP of this page, above. >

mtPaint Copy/Cut-and-Paste :   (Hint: Use 'Enter' and 'Esc' keys.)

In mtPaint, paste works a bit differently from most other Paint programs. When the clipboard image appears over the canvas [after selecting a rectangular area and choosing Copy or Cut, then Paste], it is not yet pasted anywhere. The 'secret':

After dragging it where you want it, press 'Enter' (or right click) to 'commit the paste'. If you want, you can repeat the process, to paste one selection into several places. When done, press 'Esc', or switch to another tool.

Alternately, you can enable the "Changing tool commits paste" preference on the "Interface" tab, to get a more MS Paint like behaviour.

    [I have not tried this. I have not verified that this works. But I know it will not cause Irfanview-like behavior. Before you choose to Paste in Irfanview, you have to have a rectangular area selected. When you choose to Paste in Irfanview, your image in the copy/cut buffer is scaled to fit into the new rectangular area selected. Even if you choose a different 'tool', the Paste is not committed. Only by specifying Paste --- by pull-down menu or by keyboard shortcut --- is the Paste committed.]

Somehow Mark Tyler omitted the explanation of cut-and-paste when writing the manual (the 'handbook'). That little oversight has caused a lot of people to abandon 'mtpaint' in frustration. Pity. (Actually a small tragedy in my humble opinion. All his hard work has garnered very few devotees.)

The manual hints (very briefly) at how to do cut-and-paste. See the Appendix: Keyboard/Mouse shortcuts --- which is almost at the very end of the manual :

  • Enter/Return - Commit paste to canvas
  • Right button - Commit paste to canvas / Stop drawing current line / Cancel selection

Some of the text above, on mtPaint Paste, was found in a forum page at murga-linux.com.

I may add more complete info to explain the full steps of copy/cut-and-paste (including screenshots) at a later date. This information was enough to get me 'over the hump'. I trust it could help others as well.

2015 Update: You can see the copy/cut/paste options in the Edit menu image below.

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

The Toolbar Menus of mtPaint :   (and the editing options I use the most)

There are nine toolbar menu options across the top of the 'mtpaint' GUI --- File, Edit, View, Image, Selection, Palette, Effects, Channels, and Layers.

The menus that I use the most are

  • File - mostly for 'Save' and 'Save As ...'

  • Edit - mostly for 'Undo' and 'Redo'; also for 'Copy' and 'Paste'
    ( I usually use the 'F3' key to choose a 'brush'. )

  • View - seldom used (But you can show/hide toolbars here, such as
    the 'Settings' toolbar that Mark Tyler uses in some of his demos.)

  • Image - mostly for 'Crop' and 'Scale Canvas', but also for 'Convert to RGB' and
    'Convert to Indexed' --- and for 'Rotate Clockwise' and 'Rotate Anti-Clockwise'
    --- and occasionally for 'Free Rotate'

  • Effects - mostly for 'Transform Colour', to use 'Gamma correction'.

In other words, I hardly ever use the Selection, Palette, Channels, and Layers drop-down menus.

If you are looking for information on those options, I do not have any guidance here --- but the images of those drop-down menus are below.

Here are the NINE toolbar menu names --- and some icons by which
you can get to options without using the drop-down menus.

The 'Select' mode is the initial default --- as indicated by the 'high-lighted'
(low-lighted?) little red-square icon with the dotted white-line border.

This is the 'File' drop-down menu.

I use 'Save' and 'Save As' heavily --- and 'Quit'.

This is the 'Edit' drop-down menu.

Note the 'Choose Brush' option.
You can choose a color from a pixel in the image by using the 'Ctrl' key,
while clicking on the image with mouse-button-1. Then you can use the 'F3' key
to choose a 'brush' with which to apply the chosen color.

'Copy' and 'Paste' are the other options I use, occasionally.

This is the mtpaint 'Brushes' menu.

When you press F3, this image pops up in a place determined by
where you have the mouse cursor positioned. I usually use a
square or circular 'brush' --- a solid one. But you may find
situations where a 'spray' or 'line' brush is useful.

Click on a brush type to select the brush. When you click on
this brush-menu-image, the image disappears and you are ready to
'dab' or 'stroke' with the brush.

Here is the 'View' drop-down menu.

I leave these show/hide options as they came 'out of the box'.

Here is the 'Image' drop-down menu.
This is my 'go to' menu. Lots of handy options.

I use the 'Crop' option frequently. Also 'Scale Canvas'.
The following image shows what you may see after choosing 'Scale Canvas ...'
--- a dialog window super-imposed on the image that you are editing.

This is the 'Scale Canvas' dialog of the 'Image' drop-down menu
when in 'Indexed' color mode (for example, when editing a GIF file).

The following image shows the dialog you see when editing a JPEG file.

This is the 'Scale' dialog of the 'Image' drop-down menu
when in 'RGB' mode. Note that there are many options for averaging
adjacent pixels when you are not restricted to a paletted ('indexed') image.

This is the 'Free Rotate' dialog of the 'Image' drop-down menu.
This option is handy if you took a photograph and the camera was not level.
You can adjust one or two degrees, or even a fraction of a degree.

This is the 'Selection' drop-down menu.
Most of these options are grayed-out until a portion of the image is selected.

This is the 'Palette' drop-down menu.
I have never used it.

This is the 'Effects' drop-down menu.

Some of the grayed-out options, such as Blur options, can be activated
by switching from 'Indexed' color mode to 'RGB' color mode.

This is the 'Transform Colour' dialog from the 'Effects' drop-down menu.
I mainly use the 'Gamma' option.

This is the 'Channels' drop-down menu.
I have never used it.

This is the 'Layers' drop-down menu.
I do not use it --- after my unpleasant experience documented above.
I have never really needed it anyway. An artist would almost surely
need to use it. Luckily, I am not an artist.

How to activate grayed-out Blur option in mtPaint :

    (Switch from 'Indexed' to 'RGB' mode.)

I found it very frustrating that when I wanted to blur an image (like some black text placed on a white background), I could not do the blur because the Blur Effects options in the Effects toolbar menu were grayed out. (See Irfanview note below.)

I did a lot of web searching to find out a way to turn the effect on. I finally found a hint in a thread about GIMP, which I found because GIMP has similar behavior. (I tried GIMP when I could not do the blur in mtPaint.)

In the 'mtPaint' Image toolbar menu is the option 'Convert to RGB'. This will convert your image from a palette-based image (limited to 256 colors) to a 'true color' (16 million color limit) type of image.

The Blur Effects (and about 8 other effects) in the Effects drop-down menu become active (not grayed out) when you switch your image to 'RGB'.

    This was a frustrating experience for me because, in several years of using 'Irfanview' on MS Windows, its blur option would work even if you were editing a palette-based file, like a GIF file with only a couple of colors in the palette. Apparently, underneath the covers, Irfanview would automatically make a conversion to a larger palette --- or to a 'true color' image type.

      NOTE: The 'Convert to RGB' option may solve another frustrating experience for me. In 'Irfanview', whenever I would read in a palette-based file, like a GIF file, I could save it as a JPEG file. No problem. In the Irfanview 'Save as..' dialog, simply specify JPEG (and choose from several JPEG options in a GUI, including a compression value.)

      In contrast, the 'mtPaint' 'Save As ..' dialog window will NOT present a JPEG option in the 'File format' options button. However, I know a JPEG option is available because it is among the 'File format' options if I read in a JPEG file for editing.

      It indeed turns out that by using 'Convert to RGB', one will have the option of saving an originally palette-based file as a JPEG.

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

mtPaint pixel editing :   (using the 800% zoom option)

I find that you can edit down at the pixel level by using a toolbar option to zoom in 800 percent.

Here is a tutorial using the 800% zoom and pixel editing. This tutorial was posted in a single, tall image --- by 'pyrestriker' at deviantart.net. I have broken the image up into 13 separate images and added a few notes.

The goal of this tutorial is to make what looks like a little red ball --- that looks shaded and with a glint of light reflected off of it. The ball is about 22 pixels by 22 pixels.

This is apparently a Linux desktop, with a 'docker' along the bottom,
like the one seen in the Mac OS. Note the icon for the mtpaint program.
Note that the zoom is initially set at 100% when mtpaint starts up.

(You probably won't see the Settings toolbar on the right. It will probably
be turned off 'out of the box', unless you choose to un-hide it.)

Note that the image was saved as a 640x480 image, even though the ball
is only about 22x22. See the little red ball at the upper left of the 'canvas'?

I would use the 'Image > Crop' option to crop this 640x480 image
down to a small image with relatively few transparent pixels.

< Go to Table of Contents, above. >

EXTERNAL LINKS concerning 'mtPaint' :

An 'nl' (Netherlands language) screenshot. Note the nine menu names in the top menu bar.
Note the image size (pixels) and palette depth at the bottom-left in the status bar.

Bottom of 'mtPaint' Notes page.

To return to a previously visited web page location, click on
the Back button of your web browser, a sufficient number of times.
OR, use the History-list option of your web browser.
OR ...

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Page was created 2010 May 14. Page was changed 2011 Feb 08.
Page was changed 2015 Dec 07. (Added Toolbar images and Pixel-Edit images and lots of new text.)