MS Paint 5.1: Can It Paint “Crysis”?

Last summer, I ended up watching this fascinating Youtube video about the history of Microsoft Paint. A couple of days earlier, there had been some uncertainty about MS Paint’s future (which was later resolved). Anyway, one of the comments under the video asked if the program could paint “Crysis”.

If you’ve never heard of this question before, it’s a running joke about a graphically-impressive computer game from 2007 called “Crysis“. And, no, my classic mid-2000s computer can’t play “Crysis” (although, a couple of months after I originally got it, I discovered that it could play “Far Cry” – this seemed downright futuristic at the time, given how my previous computer was a Windows 98 machine.)

Yet, one of the many cool things about having an older computer is that it has MS Paint 5.1. One of the most user-friendly and reassuringly simple versions of the classic graphics program.

So, for the purposes of reviewing MS Paint 5.1’s capabilities and demonstrating how to use it, I decided to find a small gameplay screenshot from “Crysis” on Wikipedia and see how MS Paint 5.1 can do when paired with a mouse.

As for me, I’ve done some MS Paint art before (such as here and here) and I’ve used MS Paint for small corrections and edits to the many traditional/digital paintings that I have made over the past few years. So, yes, I have a little bit of experience with this program.

Anyway, let’s begin.

You can click on each step of this seven-part demonstration to see a larger version of the image.

This is the side-by-side technique I will be using when testing if MS Paint 5.1 can run “Crysis”. Foolishly, I saved the original image as a JPEG. Don’t do this in MS Paint 5.1 until you’ve finished editing! The program’s powerful JPEG compression algorithms can create problems if you use “fill” effects (but they do result in a tiny file size, when compared to more modern JPEG images).

Using the both the “line” and “pencil” tools, I’ve sketched out the basic outlines of key features of the source image. I also converted the original image into a bitmap (“.bmp”) image too.

I added some basic colours to the image. To make the colours more realistic, I used the “pick color” tool (the icon that looks like a pipette/dropper) to make sure that the colours were exactly the same as in the source image. As you can see from the white dots in this picture, I couldn’t fill everywhere completely due to foolishly saving the image as a JPEG earlier. Even after converting it to a bitmap, I still had to manually fill in a fair number of areas (and the white dots are parts that I missed when doing this).

Using the “pencil”, “line”, “brush”, “airbrush”, “zoom” and “pick colour” tools, I started to fill in some of the background details.

I then filled in some of the foreground detail. As you can probably see, MS Paint 5.1 has trouble with smooth gradients (such as the water), when using the “airbrush” tool.

After this, I began to add some lighting (and extra foreground detail) to the picture. Once again, MS Paint’s “airbrush” tool was barely even close to adequate when replicating the smooth gradients of the sunset in the sky.

I added a few small details and finishing touches (and accidentally got a spot of black paint on the source image too). Voila! “Crysis” in MS Paint 5.1 (sort of..)

In conclusion, MS Paint 5.1 can technically “run” Crysis (if you look at the two pictures from a distance and squint slightly..).

However, the resolution is extremely low, the DirectX lighting effects don’t work properly and the framerate is absolutely abysmal (seriously, it took me 1-2 hours to render a single frame manually!).

Yet, it’s “Crysis” in MS Paint! It can be done!


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂


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