SpeedyPainter is a free, open-source painting and drawing app that lives up to its name, thanks, in part, to its basic features and layout. It's not aimed at Photoshop but at Paint and similar lightweight graphics tools. SpeedyPainter features multiple layers, supports pressure-sensitive digitizers, such as Wacom pen tablets, and crops images, copies selections, and performs other basic image editing tasks. It has some interesting features, too, such as a Perspective Mode and a neat color wheel that's much faster than the Windows color picker, and it records the drawing processes for playback or export. But we've seen other freeware graphics tools that offer much more than SpeedyPainter, including some that come close to Photoshop. And SpeedyPainter needs a functional touch or two to make it competitive in a crowded field.
Like many similar apps, SpeedyPainter's interface takes clues from Photoshop, such as the tool palette on the left, although SpeedyPainter's doesn't float. SpeedyPainter's layout is uncluttered, with unmarked sliders for varying brush size, opacity, and hardness. A brush icon in the upper corner opened more brush settings. The main settings are minimal -- not much beyond interface language and color. We clicked the "Load Image" button, but we couldn't browse higher than our C drive, which was an issue since we keep media on a separate drive. Dragging and dropping an image into SpeedyPainter worked, as did typing in the correct directory, but you shouldn't have to in a tool that runs in Windows XP to 8. Still, we were able to open several images (in separate windows) and cropped, painted, selected, copied, and performed other basic editing tasks, often with hot keys. The cool part starts when you press the Drawing Process playback arrow: SpeedyPainter automatically records your actions so you can save them, play them back, or even post them on YouTube.
Like the name says, SpeedyPainter is fast, thanks to its hot key-oriented functionality and basic toolkit. Its playback feature, perspective grid, and quick sharing capability make it a good choice for training and instructional use, but look elsewhere for that not-so-elusive Photoshop clone.