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How to add a drop shadow in Paint.net on Windows 10

Paint.net is an image editor that is more advanced than the Paint app on Windows 10, but less complicated and feature-rich than Photoshop or GIMP. It’s the perfect tool for anyone with slightly advanced image editing needs that Paint certainly can’t meet. Paint.net used to have a stock feature for adding a drop shadow but that feature appears to have been removed in one of its updates. If you’re looking to add a drop shadow in Paint.net, you’re going to have to go with a third-party effect.

Drop shadow in Paint.net

If you have Paint.net open, close it. Go to Paint.net Effects and download the EFFECTS ZIP file. This is a third-party website and it is not affiliated with Paint.net in any way. Extract the file and inside you will find a lot of DLL files.

Open File Explorer and navigate to the following location.

C:\Program Files\paint.net\Effects

Paste the DLL files from the extracted ZIP file in this folder. You will need admin rights to add items to this folder.

Open a new file in Paint.net. Make sure the canvas size has room around the edges to add the drop shadow to an object. An object here is anything that you add as a layer. If you have an image you’d like to add a drop shadow to, add it as a layer to the file. If the image is too big, either increase the canvas size or resize the image.

Next, go to Effects>Object>Drop shadow. In the window that opens, customize the drop shadow. You can change how far it is spread, the color of the drop shadow, how much it is offset from the actual object, and how transparent/opaque it is. You can also add a blur effect to the shadow.

When you save an image after adding the drop shadow, consider what it looks like as a whole. If you need the shadow to still look like a shadow i.e., have a semi-transparent look, you should save the image as a PNG file. If the item/object that you added the shadow to will look fine with a somewhat flatter shadow, you can use the JPEG format. Try saving to both before you close the file and see which one looks better. We recommend using PNG but PNG files tend to be much heavier/larger in size than a JPEG.

It’s a bit of a mystery why Paint.net decided to remove this useful little effect from the app. You’ll be hard put to find any other image editor that lets you add this effect with the same customization options as easily as Paint.net did.

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