ZPaint Review

“Forget your button maker,” says Steffen Gerlach, creator of ZPaint, a sexy little program for making 3D-looking graphics. You can also forget your wallet when you download this 286K installation package. It’s free. Of course, ZPaint is not a real 3D program. It paints shapes with shadows that simulate 3D objects like buttons, rings, and boxes.

ZPaintZPaint is a minimalist’s dream that mimics the work of powerful graphics programs but with fewer clicks and a lower learning curve. The program is most useful in web design but can also make really nice software interfaces, especially for games. ZPaint’s intuitive interface displays the shape’s effect (raised or lowered, beveled or arced, etc.) on an icon on the toolbar. Just click the shape you want and start painting. You can play around the depth and corner radius settings to define the exact shape you want. The program will also allow you to change the opacity to say, 50%, and paint one element over another for a cool transparent effect.

You can do some interesting tricks like open an existing background image via the “Choose Texture” option and paint it as a 3D-looking image, making it into an console element for a web page. I used this technique to make this site for the First Christian Church of Wrightsville, Georgia. I also used ZPaint in conjunction with Paint Shop Pro to make the The original Clickfire site, which is graphics heavy and quite dated stylistically, but it demonstrates the power of ZPaint to create nice looking buttons, console, icons, and even main graphic images and logos. I found myself making 3D rectangles and circles, then cutting and pasting them to make an human looking image. I was amazed at where a little imagination could take me.

It’s not unusual for a good freeware program to be under-rated, but finding ZPaint was like discovering a pearl among swine. It has turned out to be one of my very favorite graphics programs. Thanks, Steffen!

ZPaint Palette

Download ZPaint for Windows

Emory Rowland

I'm editor and keeper of the flame at Clickfire, fanatical social media blogger and builder of Internet things from way back. My love for social media and success with organic search led me to start my own consulting company. Apart from the Internet, I could be considered pretty worthless. More...


  1. mike

    we will see how it works…

  2. n-e-k

    Hi Mr. Rowland,
    You are absolutly right !!
    Z-Paint is one of the best Programms i have ever seen !!
    Such wonderfull Functions in such a little Code, its amazing !!

    But, please … say nothing for the “swines ” ;)

    Have fun …. :O)

  3. I was also impressed when I discovered Zpaint. It was such a simple yet impressive program. I even listed it on my site as a tool for game creation!

  4. Emory Rowland

    I just downloaded and ran ZPaint and it still works great. Amazed at this little Windows app.

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