Deluxe Paint

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Deluxe Paint
Deluxe Paint V box cover - OEM re-release on CD
Developer(s)Electronic Arts
Initial releaseNovember 1985; 35 years ago (1985-11)
Final release
5.2 / 1995; 26 years ago (1995)
Operating systemAmigaOS, GEM, MS-DOS, and Apple GS/OS
PlatformAmiga (original)
MS-DOS, Atari ST, Apple IIGS
TypeBitmap graphics editor
Deluxe Paint V on the Amiga, showing the "Venus" picture (a detail from The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli), included with the program as a sample picture, starting with the first release of Deluxe Paint in 1985. This image is the same as the initial release in 1985.[1]

Deluxe Paint, often referred to as DPaint, is a bitmap graphics editor series created by Dan Silva for Electronic Arts. The original Deluxe Paint was written for the Commodore Amiga 1000 and released in November 1985. It was eventually ported to other platforms, including an MS-DOS version which became the standard for pixel graphics in video games in the 1990s, the only competitor being Autodesk Animator Pro.[citation needed]

Dan Silva previously worked on the Cut & Paste word processor (1984), also from Electronic Arts.


Deluxe Paint began as an in-house art development tool called Prism. As author Dan Silva added features to Prism, it was developed as a showcase product to coincide with the Amiga's debut in 1985. Upon release, it was quickly embraced by the Amiga community and became the de facto graphics (and later animation) editor for the platform. It was used almost ubiquitously in the making of Amiga games, animation and demoscene productions.[citation needed] Amiga manufacturer Commodore International later commissioned EA to create version 4.5 AGA to bundle with the new Advanced Graphics Architecture chipset (A1200, A4000) capable Amigas. Version 5 was the last release after Commodore's bankruptcy in 1994.

Early versions of Deluxe Paint were available in protected and non copy-protected versions, the latter retailing for a slightly higher price. The copy protection scheme was later dropped. Deluxe Paint was first in a series of products from the Electronic Arts Tools group—then later moved to the ICE (for Interactivity, Creativity, and Education) group—which included such Amiga programs as Deluxe Music Construction Set (preceded by Music Construction Set for the Apple II), Deluxe Video, and the Studio series of paint programs for the Macintosh.

With the development of Deluxe Paint, EA introduced the ILBM and ANIM file format standards for graphics. While widely used on the Amiga, these formats never gained widespread end user acceptance on other platforms, but were heavily used by game development companies. Dpaint for MS-DOS was used by LucasArts to make graphics for their adventure games such as Monkey Island, and is the source of the name of the main character in the Monkey Island series, Guybrush Threepwood[2] - the character's name derived from a particular filename used to store his image data, which was named "guybrush.bbm".[3]



Deluxe Paint I on an Amiga 1000

Deluxe Paint I was released in 1985.[4] Most Amiga graphics editors were oriented towards the bitmapped and bitplaned display modes of the native Amiga chipset, and in Deluxe Paint this was most prominent.[citation needed]

The next year (1986) Deluxe Paint II was introduced, with support for color cycling. The Amiga natively supports indexed color, where a pixel's color value does not carry any RGB hue information but instead is an index to a colour palette (a collection of unique color values). By adjusting the color value in the palette, all pixels with that palette value change simultaneously in the image or animation. Creative artists could use this in their animation by using color cycling.

Deluxe Paint III appeared in 1988 and added support for Extra Halfbrite. New editing modes allowed one to stencil certain colors, and perform blurs on the stencils to produce an effect that could be made to look similar to light-sourcing in a 3D program. Deluxe Paint III added the ability to create cel-like animation, and animbrushes. These let the user pick up a section of an animation as an "animbrush", which can then be placed onto the canvas while it animates. Deluxe Paint III was one of the first paint programs to support animbrushes. This is similar to copy and paste, except one can pick up more than one image.

Deluxe Paint IV (introduced in 1991), which did not include Silva as the lead programmer, was significantly less elegant and crashed more often than the predecessors,[citation needed] though it did offer significant new features like non-bitplane-indexed Hold-and-Modify support.

Deluxe Paint 4.5 AGA appeared the following year, addressing the stability issues and providing support for the new A1200 and A4000 AGA machines and a revamped screen mode interface. It appeared in both standalone and Commodore-bundled versions.

The final release, Deluxe Paint V, in 1995,[5] supported true 24-bit RGB images. However, using only the AGA native chipset, the 24-bit RGB color was only held in computer memory, the on-screen image still appeared in indexed color.

Apple IIGS[edit]

DeluxePaint II for the Apple IIGS was developed by Brent Iverson and released in 1987.[6]


Deluxe Paint II for PC came out in 1988, requiring MS-DOS 2.0 and 640 kB of RAM.[7] It supported CGA, EGA, MCGA, VGA, Hercules and Tandy IBM-compatible PC graphic cards.[8]

Deluxe Paint II Enhanced was released in 1989, requiring MS-DOS 2.11 and 640 kB of RAM.[9]

Deluxe Paint II Enhanced 2.0, released in 1994, was the most successful PC version, and was compatible with ZSoft's PC Paintbrush PCX image format file. The MS-DOS conversion was carried out by Brent Iverson and its enhanced features were by Steve Shaw. It supported the CGA, EGA, MCGA and VGA IBM-compatible PC graphic cards, the Hercules, Tandy and Amstrad proprietary video cards and the main of the first Super VGA video cards (manufacturer dependent) modes, enabling it to support up to 800×600 pixel screen resolution with 256 (from 262,144) colors and 1024×768 pixels with 16 colors.

The sister product Deluxe Paint Animation (only for 320×200 pixels and 256 colors) was widely used, especially in the videogame industry.[citation needed]

Atari ST[edit]

Deluxe Paint ST was developed by ArtisTech Development, published by Electronic Arts, and was released in 1990, supporting features such as the STE 4096-color palette.[10]


"[" and "]" hotkeys could step through the indexed palette, turning indexed-pixel-painting into a fast two-handed mouse+keys process, and the right mouse button would paint with the background colour (instead of bringing up a context sensitive menu as is common in modern packages)

For example, transparency was obtained as simply as selecting a background colour index (a single right click on the palette GUI to change). Colours could be locked from editing by use of a stencil (a list of colour indexes whose pixels should not be altered in the image data). And simple colour-cycling animations could be created using contiguous entries in the palette. It was easy to change the hue and tone of a section of the image by altering the corresponding colours in the palette. (The specific section needed to use a dedicated part of the palette for this technique to work.)

Brushes can be cut from the background by using the box, freehand, or polygon selection tools. They can then be used in the same manner as any other brush or pen. This functionality is simpler to use than the "stamp" tool of Photoshop or Alpha Channels as provided in later programs. Brushes can be rotated and scaled, even in 3D. After a brush is selected, it appears attached to the mouse cursor, providing an exact preview of what will be drawn. This allows precise pixel positioning of brushes, unlike brushes in Photoshop CS3 and lower, which only show an outline.

Animations stored in IFF ANIM format were delta compressed (only the differences between current and previous frames are stored), making animations smaller and faster on playback.


Compute! criticized the documentation as inadequate, but stated that "DeluxePaint is a visual arts program of immense scope and flexibility".[11]

Deluxe Paint was a hit for EA.[12]


Deluxe Paint was frequently used for making graphics for home computer games from the late 1980's to the early 1990's, and was used for games such as Wolfenstein 3D,[13][14] Eye of the Beholder,[15] Dark Seed,[16] and Another World.[17]

The music video for the 2003 single "Move Your Feet" by Danish alternative dance duo Junior Senior was created entirely using the Amiga version of Deluxe Paint by the art collective Shynola.[18]

The webcomic "Unicorn Jelly" by Jennifer Diane Reitz was completed over the course of three years using Deluxe Paint 2, one panel posted every night at midnight.[19]

British author and artist Molly Cutpurse used Deluxe Paint to create the video graphics for the 1989 film Murder on the Moon, starring Brigitte Nielsen.


After leaving EA in 1989, Silva went on to join the Yost Group, which developed Autodesk's 3D Studio.[20][21]

In 2015 Electronic Arts released via the Computer History Museum the source code of "Deluxe Paint I" for historical reasons.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Noel, Lee: DeluxePaint For Amiga, Compute! issue #71 (April 1986), p. 52. Accessed on 15 February 2021.
  2. ^ "Frequently asked questions about Monkey Island".
  3. ^ Grossman, Dave. "TellTale Games Forums".
  4. ^ Shustek, Leonard J.: Electronic Arts DeluxePaint Early Source Code, Computer History Museum 22 July 2015. Accessed on 18 February 2021.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Product Comparison". InfoWorld. IDG. 10 (49): 64. December 5, 1988. ISSN 0199-6649. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  8. ^ InfoWorld 14 March 1988, p. 21, at Google Books
  9. ^ InfoWorld 13 November 1989, p. 158, at Google Books
  10. ^
  11. ^ Noel, Lee (April 1986). "DeluxePaint For Amiga". Compute!. p. 52. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  12. ^ Campbell, Colin (July 14, 2015). "How EA lost its soul, chapter 8". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on July 16, 2015. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "John Carmack on Twitter: "Deluxe Paint II was the pixel tool for all the early Id Software games."". Twitter. July 12, 2019.
  14. ^ Shahrani, Sam (April 25, 2006). "Educational Feature: A History and Analysis of Level Design in 3D Computer Games — Pt. 1". Gamasutra. UBM.
  15. ^ Brenesal, Barry (September 24, 1991). "SSI Challenges Your Intellect and Your Senses in a New Game". PC Magazine. Vol. 10 no. 16. p. 498.
  16. ^ Sears, David (November 1992). "Dark Seed". Compute!. No. 146. COMPUTE Publications International. pp. 100–102, 104, 106, 108. ISSN 0194-357X.
  17. ^ Nutt, Christian (March 3, 2011). "GDC 2011: Eric Chahi Retro Postmortem: Another World". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on March 6, 2011.
  18. ^ "Chris Harding interview". Archived from the original on March 24, 2006.
  19. ^ "Jennifer Diane Reitz explains the creation of "Unicorn Jelly"".
  20. ^ Dan Silva on LinkedIn
  21. ^ CG Press: The History of 3D Studio – Tom Hudson interview
  22. ^ Shustek, Len (November 12, 2013). "Electronic Arts DeluxePaint Early Source Code". Retrieved July 22, 2015.

External links[edit]