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24 July 2017updated 25 Jul 2017 11:59am

“RIP the people’s Photoshop“: memories of Microsoft Paint

Rumour has it the 32-year-old app will soon disappear from Windows' computers.

By Amelia Tait

Aged 32, a beloved international treasure has been brutally murdered in its slumber. Microsoft Paint – an application that has graced Windows computers since 1985 – is rumoured to be absent from Windows’ next update due in the autumn. The feature will be removed from Windows computers and lose its iconic status as a household staple. 

To mourn this tragic loss, we asked New Statesman readers to share their favourite memories of the application.

“I used it when working in a shitty marketing job” – Amy, 27, Yorkshire

As a child Amy enjoyed scribbling on MS Paint and printing out the results for her mum to “pretend to like” and put on the fridge. As an adult, the app was a life saver during a boring job. “My best memory is a painting of Arnold and Helga [from the children’s television show Hey Arnold]. I did it when I was working in a shitty marketing job – I was always left alone in the office on Sundays and did absolutely nothing all day except stream TV shows (on incognito mode, this is not my first rodeo) and play on paint,” Amy says. 

Amy’s painting of Arnold (left) and Helga

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“I love the sheer charm and simplicity” – Lewis Baston, 46, London

Baston – a political analyst – uses Paint to colour in maps after general and local government elections, using a Pointilliste style. “I know Python can do it more efficiently, but I love the sheer charm and simplicity of starting with an image of blank constituency and ward maps and gradually filling it in using Paint’s colour-dropper feature,” he says. “Geek heaven.” Asked his thoughts on Paint’s untimely death he said: “PAINT MUST SURVIVE!” 

One of Baston’s maps

“The only thing I could do without having to be social” – Randi, 23, Norway 

“No person should have to live to see the death of their childhood digital drawing program,” says Randi, of MS Paint’s end. As a child, Randi did what most Paint users of the Nineties did best – drew a large scribble and filled in all the gaps with the Paint Bucket tool. “I had an old Windows 98 in my room with no internet connection, so playing Red Alert and messing with Paint was the only thing I could do without having to be social.” When she became “more advanced in the Paint art” Randi also drew a portrait of a friend, below. 

Randi’s friend, Painted by Randi

“Small Me was very impressed” – Anon, 27, Southampton 

An anoymous PhD student explains that Paint is the only graphics editor they can use, making it invaluable in creating diagrams for their PhD thesis. They also have fond memories of Paint from childhood. “We got a second-hand computer from someone when I was about 7 (1997-ish), and when I opened Paint I discovered that the previous owner had created several incredibly detailed fanarts of Darth Vader. Small Me was very impressed.”

“I worked pixel-by-pixel” – Dan, 31, London

Dan enjoyed using Paint as a teenager, and because of its “speedy” load times he still uses the app to this day. “When I was round 16, one of my favourite pastimes was drawing fantasy city skylines in Paint. I’d zoom in as far as it went (using the secret extra zoom level you got by clicking just below the apparent maximum) and work pixel-by-pixel to produce a very detailed picture,” he says. 

“I would then use the simple colour-replace tool (the eraser could be told just to erase one colour and replace it with another) to colour it in. Sometimes I would overlay the image with an off-set colour-inverted copy, which could look quite psychedelic.”

 Dan’s city skyline

“I use it several times a day” – Moira, 60+, Winchester 

Moira, who describes herself as a “serious blogger” still uses Microsoft Paint every day. “I use it for quick and dirty editing of pictures for my blog, perfect simple tool, I use it several times a day, every day, on autopilot virtually,” she says. “[I am] shocked by the idea I will have to find a new way to do this!”

“We gathered round one of the school computers…” – Anoosh, 27, London

“My earliest, best and favourite memory of Paint is when we had to do a school project I think during a Geography lesson in Year 9,” says Anoosh. “We were working on a certain country or part of the world (I can’t remember which place exactly), and my friends and I did some research and found out that the spoonbill bird was native to this place. So we gathered round one of the school computers and made the front cover of our project “Spillbill” with a picture of a spoonbill bird copied and pasted (using Paint, of course!) onto the iconic yellow Kill Bill poster, replacing Uma Thurman.

“It was a masterpiece. It had some blood drawn on with the paintbrush tool coming out of it, for some reason. Our Geography teacher was really confused.”

An artist’s reconstruction of the Spillbill poster 

“RIP the people’s Photoshop” – Alex, 22, Birmingham 

Alex’s favourite memory of Paint is using it to paint nativity scenes at school during the Christmas period. “Yellow spray can was the way to go for a convincing star of Bethlehem.” To commemorate paint, they have drawn the below illustration, with strong use of the Spray Can tool.

‘RIP’, a painting by Alex

“It spurred an obsession” – Nicole, 25, London 

“One of my earliest memories of Paint must have been from around 1997 or 98 when at school I was taught IT in Year 1,” says Nicole. “We used the Spray Can tool to recreate Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, teaching us both about the history of art and also basic IT skills. This spurred an obsession, where subsequently I spent many an hour obsessively recreating different versions of the famous artwork on my father’s computer.”

“The Paint Panic” – Sophie, 32, London

Sophie used Paint to make birthday cards for friends as a child, and also loved the graffiti can tool as well as the colour match icon. One of her more painful memories of is an accident that plagued many Paint uses. “The Paint Panic,” she says, “When the colour fill function would spill out and you’d have to quickly identify the leak by zooming into the pixelated black lines. Oh, bloody hell, I’ll miss those spills if it goes.”

“It was essentially bullying” – Stephen, 27, London

“As a teenager, I wrote and drew a comic with it. It was great fun – quick and easy, the art limitations were an endless source of gags. It was notionally satire but looking back it was essentially bullying. One plot revolved around a planet that turned out to be sentient, ruled over by a character named after a friend of ours. The planet was called after her particularly downtrodden boyfriend.”

Stephen’s recreation of his old comic

“Don’t do this Microsoft” – Will, 51, Lincolnshire 

Will believes Microsoft should do what they can to keep Paint, which his children loved using when little.

“Drawing a moustache on Kylie Minogue was my first experience of a computer and I was hooked for life,” he says. 

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