Tux Paint
version 0.9.21

A simple drawing program for children

Copyright 2002-2009 by Bill Kendrick and others
New Breed Software & Tux4Kids


June 14, 2002 - April 28, 2009

Table of Contents


What Is 'Tux Paint?'

Tux Paint is a free drawing program designed for young children (kids ages 3 and up). It has a simple, easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who helps guide children as they use the program. It provides a blank canvas and a variety of drawing tools to help your child be creative.


Tux Paint is an Open Source project, Free Software released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It is free, and the 'source code' behind the program is available. (This allows others to add features, fix bugs, and use parts of the program in their own GPL'd software.)

See COPYING.txt for the full text of the GPL license.


Easy and Fun
Tux Paint is meant to be a simple drawing program for young children. It is not meant as a general-purpose drawing tool. It is meant to be fun and easy to use. Sound effects and a cartoon character help let the user know what's going on, and keeps them entertained. There are also extra-large cartoon-style mouse pointer shapes.
Tux Paint is extensible. Brushes and "rubber stamp" shapes can be dropped in and pulled out. For example, a teacher can drop in a collection of animal shapes and ask their students to draw an ecosystem. Each shape can have a sound which is played, and textual facts which are displayed, when the child selects the shape.
Tux Paint is portable among various computer platforms: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, etc. The interface looks the same among them all. Tux Paint runs suitably well on older systems (like a Pentium 133), and can be built to run better on slow systems.
There is no direct access to the computer's underlying intricacies. The current image is kept when the program quits, and reappears when it is restarted. Saving images requires no need to create filenames or use the keyboard. Opening an image is done by selecting it from a collection of thumbnails. Access to other files on the computer is restricted.

Using Tux Paint

Loading Tux Paint

Linux/Unix Users

Tux Paint should have placed a laucher icon in your KDE and/or GNOME menus, under 'Graphics.'

Alternatively, you can run the following command at a shell prompt (e.g., "$"):

$ tuxpaint

If any errors occur, they will be displayed on the terminal (to "stderr").

Windows Users

Tux Paint

If you installed Tux Paint on your computer using the 'Tux Paint Installer,' it will have asked you whether you wanted a 'Start' menu short-cut, and/or a desktop shortcut. If you agreed, you can simply run Tux Paint from the 'Tux Paint' section of your 'Start' menu (e.g., under "All Programs" on Windows XP), or by double-clicking the "Tux Paint" icon on your desktop.

If you installed Tux Paint using the 'ZIP-file' download, or if you used the 'Tux Paint Installer,' but chose not to have shortcuts installed, you'll need to double-click the "tuxpaint.exe" icon in the 'Tux Paint' folder on your computer.

By default, the 'Tux Paint Installer' will put Tux Paint's folder in "C:\Program Files\", though you may have changed this when the installer ran.

If you used the 'ZIP-file' download, Tux Paint's folder will be wherever you put it when you unzipped the ZIP file.

Mac OS X Users

Simply double-click the "Tux Paint" icon.

Title Screen

When Tux Paint first loads, a title/credits screen will appear.

[Title Screenshot]

Once loading is complete, press a key or click on the mouse to continue. (Or, after about 30 seconds, the title screen will go away automatically.)

Main Screen

The main screen is divided into the following sections:
Left Side: Toolbar

The toolbar contains the drawing and editing controls.

[Tools: Paint, Stamp, Lines, Shapes, Text, Magic, Undo, Redo,
      Eraser, New, Open, Save, Print, Quit]

Middle: Drawing Canvas

The largest part of the screen, in the center, is the drawing canvas. This is, obviously, where you draw!


Note: The size of the drawing canvas depends on the size of Tux Paint. You can change the size of Tux Paint using the Tux Paint Config. configuration tool, or by other means. See the OPTIONS documentation for more details.

Right Side: Selector

Depending on the current tool, the selector shows different things. e.g., when the Paint Brush tool is selected, it shows the various brushes available. When the Rubber Stamp tool is selected, it shows the different shapes you can use.

[Selectors - Brushes, Letters, Shapes, Stamps]

Lower: Colors

A palette of available colors are shown near the bottom of the screen.

[Colors - Black, White, Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Green, Cyan,
      Blue, Purple, Brown, Grey]

(NOTE: You can define your own colors for Tux Paint. See the "Options" documentation.)

Bottom: Help Area

At the very bottom of the screen, Tux, the Linux Penguin, provides tips and other information while you draw.

(For example: 'Pick a shape. Click to pick the center, drag, then
      let go when it is the size you want.  Move around to rotate it, and
      click to draw it.)

Available Tools

Drawing Tools

Paint (Brush)

The Paint Brush tool lets you draw freehand, using various brushes (chosen in the Selector on the right) and colors (chosen in the Color palette towards the bottom).

If you hold the mouse button down, and move the mouse, it will draw as you move.

As you draw, a sound is played. The bigger the brush, the lower the pitch.

Stamp (Rubber Stamp)

The Stamp tool is like a set of rubber stamps or stickers. It lets you paste pre-drawn or photographic images (like a picture of a horse, or a tree, or the moon) in your picture.

As you move the mouse around the canvas, an outline follows the mouse, showing where the stamp will be placed, and how big it will be.

There can be numerous categories of stamps (e.g., animals, plants, outer space, vehicles, people, etc.). Use the Left and Right arrows to cycle through the collections.

Some stamps can be colored or tinted. If the color palette below the canvas is activated, you can click the colors to change the tint or color of the stamp before placing it in the picture.

Stamps can be shrunk and expanded, and many stamps can be flipped vertically, or displayed as a mirror-image, using controls at the bottom right of the screen.

Different stamps can have different sound effects and/or descriptive (spoken) sounds. Buttons at the lower left (near Tux, the Linux penguin) allow you to re-play the sound effects and descriptive sounds for the currently-selected stamp.

(NOTE: If the "nostampcontrols" option is set, Tux Paint won't display the Mirror, Flip, Shrink and Grow controls for stamps. See the "Options" documentation.)


This tool lets you draw straight lines using the various brushes and colors you normally use with the Paint Brush.

Click the mouse and hold it to choose the starting point of the line. As you move the mouse around, a thin 'rubber-band' line will show where the line will be drawn.

Let go of the mouse to complete the line. A "sproing!" sound will play.


This tool lets you draw some simple filled, and un-filled shapes.

Select a shape from the selector on the right (circle, square, oval, etc.).

In the canvas, click the mouse and hold it to stretch the shape out from where you clicked. Some shapes can change proportion (e.g., rectangle and oval), others cannot (e.g., square and circle).

Let go of the mouse when you're done stretching.

Normal Mode

Now you can move the mouse around the canvas to rotate the shape.

Click the mouse button again and the shape will be drawn in the current color.

Simple Shapes Mode
If simple shapes are enabled (e.g., with the "--simpleshapes" option), the shape will be drawn on the canvas when you let go of the mouse button. (There's no rotation step.)


Choose a font (from the 'Letters' available on the right) and a color (from the color palette near the bottom). Click on the screen and a cursor will appear. Type text and it will show up on the screen.

Press [Enter] or [Return] and the text will be drawn onto the picture and the cursor will move down one line.

Alternatively, press [Tab] and the text will be drawn onto the picture, but the cursor will move to the right of the text, rather than down a line, and to the left. (This can be useful to create a line of text with mixed colors, fonts, styles and sizes: Like this.)

Clicking elsewhere in the picture while the text entry is still active causes the current line of text to move to that location (where you can continue editing it).

International Character Input

Tux Paint allows inputting characters in different languages. Most Latin characters (A-Z, ñ, è, etc.) can by entered directly. Some languages require that Tux Paint be switched into an alternate input mode before entering, and some characters must be composed using numerous keypresses.

When Tux Paint's locale is set to one of the languages that provide alternate input modes, a key is used to cycle through normal (Latin character) and locale-specific mode or modes.

Currently supported locales, the input methods available, and the key to toggle or cycle modes, are listed below. Note: Many fonts do not include all characters for all languages, so sometimes you'll need to change fonts to see the characters you're trying to type.

  • Japanese — Romanized Hiragana and Romanized Katakana — right [Alt]
  • Korean — Hangul 2-Bul — right [Alt] or left [Alt]
  • Traditional Chinese — right [Alt] or left [Alt]
  • Thai — right [Alt]

Magic (Special Effects)

The 'Magic' tool is actually a set of special tools. Select one of the "magic" effects from the selector on the right. Then, depending on the tool, you can either click and drag around the picture, and/or simply click the picture once, to apply the effect.

If the tool can be used by clicking and dragging, a 'painting' button will be available on the left, below the list of "magic" tools on the right side of the screen. If the tool can affect the entire picture at once, an 'entire picture' button will be available on the right.

See the instructions for each Magic tool (in the 'magic-docs' folder).


This tool is similar to the Paint Brush. Wherever you click (or click and drag), the picture will be erased. (This may be white, some other color, or to a background picture, depending on the picture.)

A number of eraser sizes are available, both round and square..

As you move the mouse around, a square outline follows the pointer, showing what part of the picture will be erased to white.

As you erase, a "squeaky clean" eraser/wiping sound is played.

Other Controls


Clicking this tool will undo the last drawing action. You can even undo more than once!

Note: You can also press [Control]-[Z] on the keyboard to undo.


Clicking this tool will redo the drawing action you just "undid" with the 'Undo' button.

As long as you don't draw again, you can redo as many times as you had "undone!"

Note: You can also press [Control]-[R] on the keyboard to redo.


Clicking the "New" button will start a new drawing. A dialog will appear where you may choose to start a new picture using a solid background color, or using a 'Starter' image (see below). You will first be asked whether you really want to do this.

Note: You can also press [Control]-[N] on the keyboard to start a new drawing.

'Starter' Images

'Starters' can be like a page from a coloring book (a black-and-white outline of a picture, which you can then color in), or like a 3D photograph, where you draw the bits in between.

When you load a 'Starter,' draw on it, and then click 'Save,' it creates a new picture file (it doesn't overwrite the original 'Starter,' so you can use it again later).


This shows you a list of all of the pictures you've saved. If there are more than can fit on the screen, use the "Up" and "Down" arrows at the top and bottom of the list to scroll through the list of pictures.

Click a picture to select it, then...

  • Click the green "Open" button at the lower left of the list to load the selected picture.

    (Alternatively, you can double-click a picture's icon to load it.)

  • Click the brown "Erase" (trash can) button at the lower right of the list to erase the selected picture. (You will be asked to confirm.)

  • Click the blue "Slides" (slide projector) button at the lower left to go to slideshow mode. See "Slides", below, for details.

  • Or click the red "Back" arrow button at the lower right of the list to cancel and return to the picture you were drawing.

If choose to open a picture, and your current drawing hasn't been saved, you will be prompted as to whether you want to save it or not. (See "Save," below.)

Note: You can also press [Control]-[O] on the keyboard to get the 'Open' dialog.


This saves your current picture.

If you haven't saved it before, it will create a new entry in the list of saved images. (i.e., it will create a new file)

Note: It won't ask you anything (e.g., for a filename). It will simply save the picture, and play a "camera shutter" sound effect.

If you HAVE saved the picture before, or this is a picture you just loaded using the "Open" command, you will first be asked whether you want to save over the old version, or create a new entry (a new file).

(NOTE: If either the "saveover" or "saveovernew" options are set, it won't ask before saving over. See the "Options" documentation.)

Note: You can also press [Control]-[S] on the keyboard to save.


Click this button and your picture will be printed!

On most platforms, you can also hold the [Alt] key (called [Option] on Macs) while clicking the 'Print' button to get a printer dialog. Note that this may not work if you're running Tux Paint in fullscreen mode. See below.

Disabling Printing

If the "noprint" option was set (either with "noprint=yes" in Tux Paint's configuration file, or using "--noprint" on the command-line), the "Print" button will be disabled.

See the "Options" documentation.)

Restricting Printing

If the "printdelay" option was used (either with "printdelay=SECONDS" in the configuration file, or using "--printdelay=SECONDS" on the command-line), you can only print once every SECONDS seconds.

For example, with "printdelay=60", you can print only once a minute.

See the "Options" documentation.)

Printing Commands

(Linux and Unix only)

Tux Paint prints by generating a PostScript representation of the drawing and sending it to an external program. By default, the program is:


This command can be changed by setting the "printcommand" value in Tux Paint's configuration file.

If the [Alt] key on the keyboard is being pushed while clicking the 'Print' button, as long as you're not in fullscreen mode, an alternative program is run. By default, the program is KDE's graphical print dialog:


This command can be changed by setting the "altprintcommand" value in Tux Paint's configuration file.

For information on how to change the printing commands, see the "Options" documentation.

Printer Settings

(Windows and Mac OS X)

By default, Tux Paint simply prints to the default printer with default settings when the 'Print' button is pushed.

However, if you hold the [Alt] (or [Option]) key on the keyboard while pushing the button, as long as you're not in fullscreen mode, your operating system's printer dialog will appear, where you can change the settings.

You can have the printer configuration changes stored by using the "printcfg" option, either by using "--printcfg" on the command-line, or "printcfg=yes" in Tux Paint's own configuration file ("tuxpaint.cfg").

If the "printcfg" option is used, printer settings will be loaded from the file "print.cfg" in your personal folder (see below). Any changes will be saved there as well.

See the "Options" documentation.)

Printer Dialog Options

By default, Tux Paint only shows the printer dialog (or, on Linux/Unix, runs the "altprintcommand", e.g., "kprinter" instead of "lpr") if the [Alt] (or [Option]) key is held while clicking the 'Print' button.

However, this behavior can be changed. You can have the printer dialog always appear by using "--altprintalways" on the command-line, or "altprint=always" in Tux Paint's configuration file. Or, you can prevent the [Alt]/[Option] key from having any effect by using "--altprintnever", or "altprint=never".

See the "Options" documentation.)

Slides (under "Open")

The "Slides" button is available in the "Open" dialog. It displays a list of your saved files, just like the "Open" dialog.

Click each of the images you wish to display in a slideshow-style presentation, one by one. A digit will appear over each image, letting you know in which order they will be displayed.

You can click a selected image to unselect it (take it out of your slideshow).

A sliding scale at the lower left of the screen (next to the "Play" button) can be used to adjust the speed of the slideshow, from slowest to fastest. Choose the leftmost setting to disable automatic advancement — you will need to press a key or click to go to the next slide (see below).

Note: The slowest setting does not automatically advance through the slides. Use it for when you want to step through them manually.

When you're ready, click the "Play" button to begin the slideshow. (Note: If you hadn't selected ANY images, then ALL images will be played in the slideshow.)

During the slideshow, press [Space], [Enter] or [Return] or the [Right Arrow], or click the "Next" button at the lower left, to manually advance to the next slide. Press [Left] to go back to the previous slide.

Press [Escape], or click the "Back" button at the lower right, to exit the slideshow and return to the slideshow image selection screen.

Click "Back" in the slideshow image selection screen to return to the "Open" dialog.


Clicking the "Quit" button, closing the Tux Paint window, or pushing the [Escape] key will quit Tux Paint.

You will first be prompted as to whether you really want to quit.

If you choose to quit, and you haven't saved the current picture, you will first be asked if wish to save it. If it's not a new image, you will then be asked if you want to save over the old version, or create a new entry. (See "Save" above.)

NOTE: If the image is saved, it will be reloaded automatically the next time you run Tux Paint!

NOTE: The "Quit" button and [Escape] key can be disabled (e.g., by selecting "Disable 'Quit' Button" in Tux Paint Config. or running Tux Paint with the "--noquit" command-line option).

In that case, the "window close" button on Tux Paint's title bar (if not in fullscreen mode) or the [Alt] + [F4] key sequence may be used to quit.

If neither of those are possible, the key sequence of [Shift] + [Control] + [Escape] may be used to quit. (See the "Options" documentation.)

Sound Muting

There is no on-screen control button at this time, but by pressing [Alt] + [S], sound effects can be disabled and re-enabled (muted and unmuted) while the program is running.

Note that if sounds are completely disabled (e.g., by unselecting "Enable Sound Effects" in Tux Paint Config or running Tux Paint with the "--nosound" command-line option), the [Alt] + [S] key sequence has no effect. (i.e., it cannot be used to turn on sounds when the parent/teacher wants them disabled.)

Loading Other Pictures into Tux Paint

Since Tux Paint's 'Open' dialog only displays pictures you created with Tux Paint, what if you want to load some other picture or photograph into Tux Paint to edit?

To do so, you simply need to convert the picture into a PNG (Portable Network Graphic) image file, and place it in Tux Paint's "saved" directory:

Windows Vista
Inside the user's "AppData" folder, e.g.: "C:\Users\(user name)\AppData\Roaming\TuxPaint\saved\"
Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP
Inside the user's "Application Data" folder, e.g.: "C:\Documents and Settings\(user name)\Application Data\TuxPaint\saved\"
Mac OS X
Inside the user's "Library" folder: "/Users/(user name)/Library/Application Support/Tux Paint/saved/"
Inside a hidden ".tuxpaint" directory, in the user's home directory: "$(HOME)/.tuxpaint/saved/"

Note: It is from this folder that you can copy or open pictures drawn in Tux Paint using other applications.

Using 'tuxpaint-import'

Linux and Unix users can use the "tuxpaint-import" shell script which gets installed when you install Tux Paint. It uses some NetPBM tools to convert the image ("anytopnm"), resize it so that it will fit in Tux Paint's canvas ("pnmscale"), and convert it to a PNG ("pnmtopng").

It also uses the "date" command to get the current time and date, which is the file-naming convention Tux Paint uses for saved files. (Remember, you are never asked for a 'filename' when you go to Save or Open pictures!)

To use 'tuxpaint-import', simply run the command from a command-line prompt and provide it the name(s) of the file(s) you wish to convert.

They will be converted and placed in your Tux Paint 'saved' directory. (Note: If you're doing this for a different user - e.g., your child, you'll need to make sure to run the command under their account.)


$ tuxpaint-import grandma.jpg
grandma.jpg -> /home/username/.tuxpaint/saved/20020921123456.png

The first line ("tuxpaint-import grandma.jpg") is the command to run. The following two lines are output from the program while it's working.

Now you can load Tux Paint, and a version of that original picture will be available under the 'Open' dialog. Just double-click its icon!

Doing it Manually

Windows, Mac OS X and BeOS users must currently do the conversion manually.

Load a graphics program that is capable of both loading your picture and saving a PNG format file. (See the documentation file "PNG.txt" for a list of suggested software, and other references.)

When Tux Paint loads an image that's not the same size as its drawing canvas, it scales (and sometimes smears the edges of) the image so that it fits within the canvas.

To avoid having the image stretched or smeared, you can resize it to Tux Paint's canvas size. This size depends on the size of the Tux Paint window, or resolution at which Tux Paint is run, if in fullscreen. (Note: The default resolution is 800x600.) See "Calculating Image Dimensions", below.

Save the picture in PNG format. It is highly recommended that you name the filename using the current date and time, since that's the convention Tux Paint uses:



20020921130500 - for September 21, 2002, 1:05:00pm

Place this PNG file in your Tux Paint 'saved' directory. (See above.)

Calculating Image Dimensions

The width of Tux Paint's canvas is simply the width of the window (e.g., 640, 800 or 1024 pixels), minus 192.

Calculating the height of Tux Paint's canvas requires multiple steps:

  1. Take the height of the window (e.g, 480, 600 or 768 pixels) and subtract 144
  2. Take the result of Step 1 and divide it by 48
  3. Take the result of Step 2 and round it down (e.g., 9.5 becomes simply 9)
  4. Take the result of Step 3 and multiply it by 48
  5. Finally, take the result of Step 4 and add 40

Example: Tux Paint running at fullscreen on a 1440x900 display.

  • The canvas width is simply 1440 - 192, or 1248.
  • The canvas height is calculated as:
    1. 900 - 144, or 756
    2. 756 / 48, or 15.75
    3. 15.75 rounded down, or 15
    4. 15 * 48, or 720
    5. 720 + 40, or 760
So the canvas within a 1440x900 Tux Paint window is 1248x760.

Further Reading

Other documentation included with Tux Paint (in the "docs" folder/directory) include:

How to Get Help

If you need help, feel free to contact New Breed Software:


You may also wish to participate in the numerous Tux Paint mailing lists: