I tend to use Photoshop, but for my engineering course I do want to use something as simple as MS Paint.

I literally need to do this:

  • Create a square with whatever color outline
  • Fill the square with another color
  • Draw some shapes inside with yet another color
  • Save the image as a .gif (must be a .gif)

But when I do it, the whole image is dithered. Which completely kills my program. If I filled my shape with a solid color, it turns into a sea of completely different pixels (similar to the color, but I need it to be exact).

I understand that .gif lowers the quality by having to use a much more limited set of colors, which is perfectly good for me - I don't mind having my image's colors slightly changed to match the .gif limits. But I don't want it to dither.

If I truly can't achieve this with MS Paint (which I doubt), what other simple solutions have you got?

I heard something about converting it to a 256-colors bitmap and then transform it to a .gif. I don't think I understood well the instructions: what I did was draw my image, save as a 256-colors .bmp (which converted my colors, which is alright for me), but as soon as I saved it to .gif, the colors dithered.


2 Answers 2


The simplest answer is going to be "Use absolutely anything other than MS Paint"... I put a couple of free, and low-cost, photoshop alternatives in this answer here to a related question https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/5901/3327 For something so simple you want to use Paint, I recommend the first one, pixlr, which runs in a web browser, no installation required.

If you really really want to use MS Paint (I guess some people are masochists and it's a valid lifestyle choice? :-) can't spell MS Paint without Pain...), I believe (on Mac right now so can't test) you could do this...

  • Do your thing in Paint.
  • (assuming Windows 7+) Open up the Windows Snipping Tool, in the Start Menu under Accessories. It's a useful handy thing to know about anyway, the equivalent of marquee screenshots on a mac.
  • Select an area around the non-mangled on-screen image in Paint
  • Save as gif from the Snipping Tool. I believe (can't test right now) it saves them the normal way.

Or, just save as a PNG and run through any of the hundreds of online image file converters


Dithering is used to simulate a non-indexed color using the 256 colors in the defined palette.

If you want to avoid dithering, you need to:

1) begin with an 8-bit image (rather than RGB) and select only those colors defined in the palette; or

2) use RGB and then save using an adaptive palette with dithering disabled.

option 1 is best for your stated needs. For the use-case you state in your question, option 2 would probably be acceptable, unless there is some constraint such as "must adhere to (so-called) mac/windows 8/web-safe color indexes".

  • Note that as far as I can tell, MS Paint does not allow you to select specific colors defined in an indexed palette, nor specify anything other than 24 bit RGB when creatign a new document (but it can properly open a GIF and resave the palette)
    – horatio
    Oct 31, 2012 at 15:32

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