Non straight geometrical shapes (i.e. diagonal lines, curved lines or circles) created with MS paint appear to me pixelated.

For example, if I create a jpeg or png 100px X 100px raster image with a White background containing a diagonal line (without hitting shift while doing so), that diagonal line would appear to me pixelated.

If it doesn't happen with programs such as Adobe Photoshop what is the way to explain this? (Lack of anti-aliasing perhaps)

  • 1
    Hi. Welcome to GDSE. Yes that is the explanation, there's no anti-aliasing option available when drawing geometric shapes in MS Paint.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 9, 2021 at 12:59
  • If you are looking for software which supports geometric shapes with anti-aliasing, then there are some free alternatives to Photoshop, such as Krita (has support for vector shapes), or possibly even Inkscape (which is a vector image editor).
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 9, 2021 at 18:27
  • Thanks Billy, indeed, I should try Krita. Sep 9, 2021 at 22:38
  • Sure, but Inkscape (or similar vector image editing software) is even better. You don't even have to rasterize the drawing. You can save as SVG. No pixels are required at all ;) This is why graphic designers use vector image editors for designing things like logos. Technically, Krita is still raster software with some vector capabilities, but output is still raster.
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 10, 2021 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


What is the way to explain this?

Different anti-aliasing algorithms.

Let's understand what anti-aliasing is. It is rendering a pixel with an intermediate color that is between two zones of different colors.

If you do not have any antialiasing at all, you will have some pixels of one color and some of another.

enter image description here

Some "fast anti-aliasing methods could just give some pixels the exact intermediate value of some colors.

enter image description here

And some other algorithm could render more gradation of colors, making the border smoother.

enter image description here

Sometimes the algorithm must make several calculations to do this. For example in a 3D game, you could choose to make several passes to smooth borders more and more. You could choose 1 pass (second image) or several passes (third image)

One note. If you are working at 100% that effect, or more likely defect, is NOT pixelation, it is aliasing or saw borders.


I cant answer for all aplications. Different applications use different methods.

Essentially Photoshop has 2 methods:

  • When stroked draws circles that have a blurred border and stamps them not too tightly (if you stamp them too tightly you will burn out the blur). While Paint stamps even blurred circles too often, or does not have blurred edges.

    This blur will be interpreted as anti-aliasing. But since aliasing is caused by a signal that has a too high frequency to be reproduced by the discretisation step. If you now have something that never had any frequencies that exceeded your ability to reproduce are you anti aliasing? Debatable. But you may also equate a too blurred edge as a better one, in which case its definitely not AA.

  • But then Photoshop can also draw vector art, in these cases Photoshop just renders the lines at super resolution and samples them down for AA.

    Though there's significantly better ways to do this too.

You can do the same as the later in paint if you wish. Just draw a a image thats say 4-16 times larger then scale it down. Although the sampling filter paint uses is tuned to be more ringing than any of the options of PS save nearest neighbor. I dont see any reason to use paint though.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.