NPS Image Editor is a freeware painting, drawing and image editing tool. The developer says the program aims to offer high end editing tools with the simplicity of the original Microsoft Paint.

The program looks much like a simplified version of Paint.NET: tiny drawing toolbar on the left, palette on the right, menu bar at the top, details of the current image on the status bar.

The core operations work as you'd expect. Drag and drop to open an image, hold Ctrl and spin the mouse wheel to zoom in and out, resize/ rotate/ flip/ mirror the image, adjust colours or apply effects. If you've ever used another image editor you'll be immediately exploring the program's abilities.

It doesn't take long to spot issues. The program doesn't have a tabbed interface (it can sort-of open multiple images, but each one appears in a different NPS window). There's no layer support yet (it's in beta as we write). The toolbars are fixed and relatively basic, with few options to reconfigure or move them around.

Keep looking, though, and you'll find many features which deliver more than you'd expect.

Colour Selection is via a powerful colour picker which supports RGB, HSV, HSL, HCL(ab), Lab Colour, CIE XYZ, YUV and CMYK mixing, as well as storing "favourite" colours in your own panel, or picking a shade from the screen.

Selection tools include a freehand option, all selections support multiple transparency modes (opaque, keyed, fully transparent), and you can resize a selection in place, rotate, invert or crop it on demand.

You're able to paint with multiple brushes, including animated brushes which change shape as you draw. All brushes can be edited, or you can add your own.

The "Rotate" tool doesn't just support 90 degree increments. You can specify any angle you like, automatically enlarge the canvas to match, fill this with transparency or a colour, and use bicubic or bilinear interpolation with prefiltering for the best possible quality.

There's also support for Bezier curves, transparency editing, text smoothing, watermarks, scripting and more.

v3.1.1:

Fixed auto-scroll mode always stuck ON
Fixed Text tool prompt showing up strangely when clicking "Edit" in tool pane
Fixed Ctrl+Enter behavior in text tool
Configuration Panel
Fixed bug where you would be prompted to restart on a welcome/generic page with no change
Fixed bug where you would NOT be prompted to restart after making a change requiring to restart and then switching to a different page
Bucket fill
Fixed tolerance functionality
Fixed transparency aware functionality
Renamed compositing-related settings to be more descriptive -- Transparency Editing Mode, Color Compositing Mode, Selection Compositing Mode
Updated wording to consistently use "Blend vs Overwrite" instead of "Overlay vs Replace"
Correctly save color compositing mode and cycling mode
Fixed broken Quick Evaluator dialog and added color preview
Fixed spurious warning for negative-number OLE system colors
Added cursor to screen color picker to installer folder (missed file in installer in last update)
Fixed issue where NPS didn't delete any of its temp files (undo and extensions), clean up previous instance's files at startup
New document numbers now increment correctly (previously every new document would be named "Untitled-1")
Fixed vertical scrolling (tilt wheel scrolling still has issues with badly written drivers such as Logitech which don't send WM_MOUSEHWHEEL if they see a scrollbar)
Fixed missing prompt when creating new document
Fixed Crop to Selection leaving the old selection behind

Verdict ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings

NPS Image Editor is an unusual tool which delivers way more than you'd expect in some advanced areas (colour selection, interpolation modes, transparency options, scripting), yet also misses in more basic areas (can't open multiple images within one window, or remove noise, or run "unsharp mask").

Overall we'd say the program works better at annotating and drawing on images, rather than optimising or fixing them, but there's something here for everyone. Check it out.