How to Outline Text with Paint.NET

Paint.NET is a useful free art program with a lot of functionality. However, one thing some users find themselves asking about is how to outline text, or other objects. Creating text with a clear outline can be useful for things like creating original memes, or just making text on an image more readable.

There are plugins available which you can download to simply write outlined text in Paint.NET. These are easy enough to search for, but we’re going to assume that you don’t want to install a plugin just to outline some text today. Instead, this article will show you a quick workaround to get you outlined text using only the latest, basic version of Paint.NET. At the time of this writing, that version is Paint.NET 4.0.13.

So let’s go step-by-step through how to get outlined text.

  1. First, use the Text tool to create the text you want. You should use a large font size for this–in the example I use 72-point font (equivalent to 1-inch-tall letters) but you can go even bigger, and the end result will look better the larger you go. Make the text whatever color you want the middle of the letters to be. I start with something simple:paintnet1
  2. Use the Magic Wand tool to select all of the text. Make sure the “Add (Union)” option is selected in the upper-left, so you can select all the letters at the same time:paintnet2
  3. Use the window in the bottom-right of the program to select “Add New Layer.” This should put a blank layer on top of your existing layer, but the shapes of the letters will still be selected:paintnet2a
  4. Use the paintbrush to fill in the selected space with the color you want the outlines to be:paintnet4
  5. Keep the text shapes selected. In the “Effects” menu, select “Stylize” and “Outline”:paintnet5
  6. Move the “Intensity” slider all the way up to 100, so the outline will be solid. Adjust the “Thickness” slider to change how thick the outlines will be, in pixels:paintnet6
  7. Now use the Magic Wand tool again to select the blank insides of each letter:paintnet7
  8. Hit Delete to remove the insides of the letters. Now the original letters should show through, with your outlines on top of them:

So now you can (fairly) quickly add outlines to image text. You can also use this method to outline any other shape the same way. Outlines can add a little extra gloss to the text. The outlines can also make the text clearer if the picture background has a similar color scheme.

We’ve got a few more articles on how you can manipulate text with Paint.NET, and do image-manipulation tricks like add blur and whiten teeth.

Posted by Matthew on July 29, 2016

3 thoughts on “How to Outline Text with Paint.NET”

Me says:
Why is the website linked to something “hotornot” in the address? That’s sketchy as hell.
Will says:
Ha, that is indeed. We will update the instructions
Matthew says:
It doesn’t if you haven’t added the plug-in to the software. Have you added the plug-in mentioned in the article to Paint.NET?
Art says:
This article is wrong. PDN contains no such menu selection as “Effects > Objects > Outline Object”.
Paul Bullias says:
Go to Effects > Stylize > Outline.

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