< Scratch Wiki:3.0 Articles

The Bitmap Editor
The Vector Editor

The Scratch Paint Editor is Scratch's built-in image editor. Many Scratchers create their own sprites and backdrops using it. These images can be used in many ways, each having its own impact on its project. This is one of the features that makes Scratch different from many other programming tools, because many others do not provide a built-in image creator.

The Paint Editor utilizes both vector graphics and raster graphics (bitmap graphics). Vector graphics, unlike bitmaps, store the image as rules rather than an array of pixels, for more smooth images in any stage size.

Note Note: This article mentions "costumes" often, but almost all of the information applies to backdrops, too.

Types of Graphics

Vector Graphics

Main article: Vector Graphics

Vector graphics make drawings look much smoother, as colors are stored in shapes instead of pixels, but are often slightly more difficult to draw with compared to the bitmap editor. The new pen tool renders a spline (mathematical curve) through a set of control points. The control points can be dragged later on to modify a shape, so getting a complex organic shape to look perfect is simpler. Objects can be manipulated individually, too, so one can stretch and rotate one element separately (or group multiple elements to do these operations collectively). Vector graphics also have greater clarity and resolution due to anti-aliasing, and usually have smaller file sizes. The less splines that make up a vector image, the lesser the file size will typically be.


Contrary to bitmap graphic's "pixels", vector graphics use "objects". Objects are modifiable whole parts of a vector image; they consist of the building-blocks of vector, control points and splines. Objects can have many parts and various colors to their style. They can even be grouped together or broken apart into multiple objects. In more advanced terminology, an object is a linkage of splines or groups of splines into one united piece.

Bitmap Graphics

Main article: Raster Graphics

Bitmap graphics, also known as raster graphics, are both saved and modified differently. Unlike vector graphics, bitmap graphics store images as arrays of pixels in a grid formation. Bitmap graphics do not anti-alias, but can still render transparency. The various file formats a bitmap image is saved in determines its quality and file size. A lower quality bitmap image stores less data on an image, also known as compression. Bitmap images, though, are helpful for creating pixel-perfect images mathematically aligned.

Why Vector Graphics Appear Smoother

The difference in a vector and bitmap circle.

Even though they're being displayed on a screen of the same resolution and pixel density, vector graphics look much smoother than bitmap. It's because in vector the edges of lines and objects gradually become more transparent, fading into the background or layer behind, which is called anti-aliasing. For example, if one draws a black circle on a white background in Scratch 1.4, the edges will look very bumpy. However, in vector they appear smooth because the edges of the circle fade out into the white background, or in this case gradually become lighter colored. You can visualize close up the difference in a vector and bitmap circle by doing the following steps:

  • Draw a circle in the vector paint editor
  • Right-click on the costume logo in the pane
  • Save the costume to a local file
  • Open up a bitmap paint editor outside of Scratch (ex. MS Paint)
  • Import the circle into it
  • Draw a circle in bitmap
  • Zoom in to view the difference
Note Note: Some bitmap paint editors create figures that appear similar to or as smooth as vector graphics; however, when zoomed in they will not stay smooth looking but will instead be pixelated.

Spline-Based Shapes

Splines are mathematical curves through a set of control points. Each spline is proportional to one another by some value. The vector editor is highly dependent on the spline tool, which allows one to create and modify splines. This allows for smoother drawing and easier editing, but disallows bitmap editing capabilities. There is an option to convert to bitmap, too, which will remove the splines.

The Scratch vector editor does not allow objects to have branching splines. For example, two splines cannot extend from one control point; the splines must connect from one point directly to only one other. Due to this incapability, creating, for example, tree branches may be difficult without making and merging many separate branch objects.

Splines can have curvature to them without squeezing many control points to create the illusion of a curve. The splines can have mathematical curves that give them a realistic sense. The vector circle tool uses mathematics to create the smooth curvature of a circle. Most professional 3D games have "circles" made of octagonal or more-sided shapes, as seen when close up. The 2D vector graphics in Scratch avoid this restriction.

Bitmap Editor

The paint editor is switchable between both the vector and bitmap editor. The bitmap editor is the default editor when creating a new sprite because the Scratch Team thought it was easier for new users to understand.[citation needed] When you switch from bitmap to vector, what was created in bitmap will stay in bitmap since the paint editor can not convert the previous drawings into spline-based shapes. However, some external programs can use tracers to render a vector image based on patterns in a bitmap image. Also, when a drawing made in another program is imported into a project it will be in bitmap. When viewing a bitmap sprite or backdrop in full screen they appear pixelated.

Vector Editor

The vector editor is not the default editor, but can be converted to with the "Convert to vector" button in the bottom-right. The vector editor utilizes vector graphics with its specialized tools. The tools vary from the bitmap editor's, but there are same ones, too. These tools can function differently, though, such as the #Paint Bucket. One benefit of using the vector editor is the capability to design various parts of an image separately and then join them all together.

When the vector editor is in use, objects have the ability to extend off the canvas, or "drawing area" of the paint editor. This allows vector costumes and backdrops to have a greater resolution than 480x360, though resolution is less important in vector graphics. The bitmap editor prohibits any pixels outside of the canvas, one downside and restriction of it. Unfortunately, the canvas cannot scroll in the vector editor, so accessing and precisely placing objects can be difficult due to the lack of visualizing their positions.

Bitmap and Vector Comparison

Both paint editors have their own advantages. The bitmap editor tends to be easier to use while the vector editor can be complicated in certain tasks, such as the Paint Bucket Tool. In the bitmap editor, one can fill any closed area; in the vector editor, one must first draw a polygon connecting from a starting point and back to that point and then fill it in. If multiple objects are placed next together and form a closed in area, that area cannot be filled in in the vector editor because it's not one shape from a starting point to that same point. However, the vector graphics look much more smooth when complete and especially in full screen mode. They are also more beneficial for bending or stretching shapes with the Reshape Tool. One can also move text boxes in vector mode, while in bitmap only once.

Paint Editor Conversion

At the bottom-right of the paint editor is the option to switch to the other (bitmap or vector) editor. When converting the images to the new editor, or new format, the program has to manipulate them.

Converting Bitmap to Vector

When converting a bitmap image to the vector editor, the entire bitmap image becomes one united, single object in the vector editor. It contains its bitmap appearance, but the difference is when resizing the converted bitmap image. The vector editor resizes all objects differently than the bitmap editor, often more accurately to the original display. Any shapes converted from bitmap to vector do not transform into a vector shape or obtain splines; the program reads it as before.

Note Note: Due to a bug with the rendering system, the bitmap graphic may turn into a magenta rectangle. This can go away if the project is reloaded or the graphic is converted back into bitmap.

Converting Vector to Bitmap

The option to convert to the bitmap editor.

When converting a vector image to bitmap, any objects that extend off the canvas will no longer be included; only a 480x360 resolution image can be created at maximum in the bitmap editor. Unlike from bitmap to vector, vector graphics lose the properties that are unique to them. Specifically, anti-aliasing (for more information, read the section Why Vector Graphics Appear Smoother) is removed. Therefore, a smooth vector object may become very jagged and pixelated in appearance.

Note Caution: After converting from vector to bitmap, converting back to vector will not retain the vector properties as the objects had before; however, undoing will bring back the properties.

Costume Pane

The costume pane.
Main article: Costume Pane

The left-most part of the paint editor is the costume pane. It consists of the buttons for creating new costumes as well as icons for each costume. In the costume pane, each costume of the selected sprite is listed. To edit the different costumes in the paint editor, simply click on the desired costume from the pane. The pane can even scroll if there are too many costumes to vertically fit its size.

Why does Scratch Cat always show up on the Costume Bar? The Scratch Cat is automatically set up on a project page, but you can delete it by simply pressing the delete button on the top right hand corner, if you hover on that sprite.

Basic Options

Creating New Costumes (or Backdrops)

There are four ways to create a new costume or backdrop within the paint editor:

  • Draw your own in the paint editor
  • Select an image from Scratch's default sprites and backdrops library
  • Import from a local file on your computer (ex. import a downloaded or externally drawn image)
  • Plug your digital camera into your computer with a USB drive and take a picture or use a webcam to take a picture

Switching Among Costumes/Backdrops

On the left-hand side of the paint editor is a scrollable list, the costumes pane, displaying the thumbnails of each costume in the selected sprite. The currently selected costume has a blue box around it and you can see a "x" button on it. The canvas of the paint editor only displays the currently selected costume. To access the different costumes of a sprite, simply click on the thumbnail of the desired costume from the costumes pane. Then, the canvas will display the newly selected costume and allow for its modification.

The advanced color palette.

Selecting a Color

Main article: Color Palette

The Scratch paint editor has a color dropdown that has three sliders that can be used to select colors: color, saturation, and brightness. It is found in the middle-left side of the editor.


Changing the color slider changes the hue of the color (for example, from red to blue). This tool is the most used, as it has the largest difference between colors.


The saturation of a color is how transparent it is: 0 saturation is completely transparent, 50 saturation is partially see-through, and 100 saturation is opaque (blocks the view of other objects behind it).


This option changes low light or dark the color is. The left is completely black, while the right is the selected color.

Changing Pen Size

In the middle of the paint editor is the pen size bar. It is marked by a paintbrush icon. There is an input to select the pen size.

Note Note: The pen size is saved for each tool (it will be the same if you switch to another tool, then back.

Naming Costumes

To name a costume, just click on the text bar at the top-left of the paint editor and enter the new name. The name of the costume is important for organization and also in programming the project at times. It is best not to name costumes as just numbers without any other characters because it causes confusion with the costume blocks; this is due to each costume having both a name and numerical order value in the costumes pane, so switching to costume "2" could mess up if the third costume was named "2".

Advanced Options

Precise Object Movement

In the vector editor, when an object is selected, the arrow keys can be used to move it precisely one pixel. In the bitmap editor, a section grabbed with the screen region grabber can also be moved with the arrow keys. This can be useful for making exact, precise measurements or aligning objects in an organized, structural pattern.

Copying and Pasting

At the bottom right of the top bar there are two options: copy and paste. The copy option copies the region that is selected, while the paste puts it somewhere else. This is especially useful when one needs to duplicate an item.


The layering of Giga in front of Nano.

The paint editor also includes the feature of layering objects in the vector editor. Layering objects is placing them in front or behind one another. On the top-right side will be two buttons which allow you to either move that object forward or backward one layer. If you hold down the shift key while doing this, it sends the object to the very front or back. Layering objects in the paint editor acts the same as layering sprites on the stage.

Note Note: You can only layer objects, not individual splines.


If you have a bunch of objects in the vector editor that are getting in the way, it can be smart to group them. What grouping does is takes multiple objects and combines them into one. It does not change the shape or color of anything, it just makes multiple objects into a standalone object. To group objects, you must first select the mouse-pointer tool and click and drag a square around the objects you want to group. A dotted box will form around the objects you boxed in. On the right side of the editor there will be a button (it has a square and circle connected together) that groups those objects when clicked. After grouping objects, when that new object is selected, a similar looking button will appear on the right that allows you to ungroup the objects. When objects are not grouped and are clicked, a gray box appears around them. When objects are grouped and are clicked, an orange box appears around them.

Note Note: When you group objects, it does not take away the splines of the objects; they can still be modified

Horizontal and Vertical Flipping

When you select an object, there is the option to horizontally and/or vertically flip it. Flipping objects makes a reverse image of it. In advanced terms, when an object is flipped, it takes each pixel and sets it in the opposite location of a center with the origin of (0,0). At the top of the paint editor are two similar looking buttons (they have a semicircle and an arrow pointing to another). The one on the left flips the selected object horizontally, and the one on the right vertically.

From left to right, top to bottom: No flip, horizontal flip, vertical flip, horizontal and vertical flip.

Bitmap Tools

The bitmap editor's tools are similar to the vector editor's, but instead use a grid of pixels on a region instead of spline creation. The following tools go in order of top to bottom in reference of the image shown.

Paint Brush

The paint brush is a tool simply for drawing wherever the mouse-pointer is clicked. The color and size modify the display of the paint brush's pen marks. To change the brush's size, simply go to the slider at the bottom left-hand corner and change it to your desired size.

Line Tool

The line tool is used for drawing straight lines. When creating a perfect horizontal or vertical line, holding the "Shift" key will create either a vertical or horizontal line, depending on which way you take the line. The bitmap editor cannot create curvature with lines, although the vector editor can using the reshape tool. The line tool in bitmap utilizes sub-pixels, causing inconsistency with some other tools and alignment troubles often, too.

Oval Tool (Circle)

The oval tool, commonly known as the "circle" or "ellipse" tool, is used for creating ovals of any shape and size. Just like the rectangle tool, when the oval tool is selected there will be two buttons in the bottom-left of the paint editor. The first is used to create an oval with a hollow center, and the adjacent one is used to create a solid, filled-in oval. The oval tool can also create perfect circles by holding down the shift key while drawing.

Rectangle Tool (Square)

The rectangle tool, commonly known as the "square tool", is used for drawing rectangles (4-sided, geometric shape with all right angles). These rectangles can either be solid or transparent in the center. When the tool is selected, at the bottom-left of paint editor will be two buttons, one consisting of a hollow rectangle, and one consisting of a solid one. By default, the hollow one is selected. This means that any drawn rectangle will have an open, see-through center. If the button consisting of the solid rectangle is selected, the drawn rectangle will be one solid mass.

Text Tool

The six usable fonts

The text tool is used for typing text into a costume or backdrop. When the tool is selected, click anywhere on the canvas for a cursor to appear. Then, you can type in a desired text. To modify the size of the text, you must drag the small size buttons (tiny squares) to the desired measurement. You can also, with these buttons, stretch and compress your text, but this can only be done after finishing typing. When typing, the text appears just like vector, but when the text is deselected, the words become pixelated. There are six different fonts available in the lower left.

In Scratch 1.4, fonts were loaded from the computer, which meant that the user could choose to use any font they please. However, it was removed because of the fact that Scratch 2.0 editor is available online, thus eliminating the ability to load fonts from the computer.

Paint Bucket

The paint bucket is used to fill in any closed region of a consistent color with one solid color. This can be accomplished by clicking in the desired area on the canvas.


The eraser tool is used to remove (or erase) a clicked area on the canvas. The colors that are erased are replaced with no color, meaning that area is see-through.


The select (screen region grabber) tool is used to grab an area on the canvas and relocate, stretch and compress, or modify it in some way. This can be done by clicking and dragging around the desired area. Then, a dotted box will appear around that area. If you grab the center of the dotted box with the mouse, you can move the section around. Also, you can stretch and compress it with the measurement boxes that appear around the outside. Lastly, you can rotate the section with the green circle located above the selected region.

The vector editor tools

Vector Tools

Vector tools, unlike bitmap, create splines instead of an array of pixels to store costumes and backdrops. Many of the tools, though, work in a very similar style. The following tools go in order from top to bottom of the image shown on the right.


The mouse-pointer tool is used for modifying the location of an object, stretching or compressing it, or rotating it. When an object is selected with this tool by mouse-click, an orange box will appear around it and the objectcan be moved by grabbing the center and moving the mouse. Rotation is accomplished by grabbing and dragging the small, grey circle above the selected object. The object rotates in relation from the object's center to the rotation circle's position. Lastly, objects can be stretched and compressed with the measurement boxes that appear on the outer edge of the selection box.

Note Note: to select multiple, ungrouped objects as a whole, click the mouse in a blank area and a box will drag around the desired area; then all objects within will be selected. You may also click on the objects one at a time while pressing the Control key.

Reshape Tool

An image, edited with the reshape tool.

This tool is used for bending or changing the shapes of a spline in the vector editor by grabbing the points with the mouse and moving them around. When an object is selected, a box at the bottom of the editor will pop up saying "Smooth" which makes any bumpy lines or curves more smooth on that object. In more technical terms, it reduces the amount of control points on the object, which can lower the file size and possibly render faster. The reshape tool has many advanced features and specifications too:

  • Click on a spline without moving it to remove it.
  • Shift-clicking on a point without moving the mouse will delete the point and disconnect (cut) it from the shape.
  • If you have a closed shape that is filled in, if you break the shape (open the polygon) the fill color will go away.
  • You can remove the spline you are editing with the delete key or backspace key.
  • Click on a line or border of a shape where there is no point to add one.
  • If you shift-click on a line or border where there is no point, it will add a line segment that is curved on a straight segment or one that is straight on a curved segment.
  • Moving an endpoint of one closed shape to another will merge them, causing them to have the same thickness and color.
  • Clicking on a point without moving the mouse will delete that point, causing its adjacent points to connect together.
  • You can connect the endpoints of shapes to close-in and combine them.

Spline Tool (Drawing)

The spline tool acts as the paint brush tool for the vector editor. However, instead of creating pen marks on the canvas like in bitmap, it creates splines, mathematically calculated and stored shapes, which will not become pixelated and can be modified using the reshape tool. To draw, hold down the mouse on the canvas. Drawing from an existing point on an existing spline will automatically match the size and color to the existing spline and also connect the splines together.


The eraser erases parts of splines all at once and leaves a thin black line on the edges of its erase area. Prior to 3.0, there was no way to remove an object, as you cannot remove a spline if there are only two splines.

Paint Bucket

The paint bucket tool can often be confusing because instead of filling in a region it only fills in vector objects or the outline of a vector object. For example, you cannot fill in the blank background of a costume or backdrop with the paint bucket in vector because it is not an object. When the paint bucket is selected, click on any object's interior or outline to manipulate the color to the currently selected one.

Note Note: One cannot fill in any closed area with the vector paint bucket because it must be an object. When filling in backgrounds, it may be best to perform the action in the bitmap editor first and then switch to vector.

In bitmap, any region, closed or unclosed to the background, or the borders themselves, may be filled, but in the vector editor the splines must be connected into a uniform, closed-in object (when filling the interior).

Text Tool

The fonts in the vector editor.

The text tool is used to type characters onto the canvas, which can be resized after completion. To type text, click anywhere on the canvas and a cursor will appear. Then you can begin typing. You can also set the horizontal and vertical boundaries of text by moving the resolution boxes that appear around the text box. After finishing typing, click on a blank area to exit the text editor. To resize the text then, you must select it with the mouse-pointer and drag the measurement boxes to have the text reach the desired size. Text can be edited after exiting the text editor by clicking on existing text with the text tool.

The Text Tool has six available fonts available in the bottom-left of the paint editor to select from: Donegal, Gloria, Helvetica, Marker, Mystery, and Scratch. More fonts can be obtained using Google Drawings by making a drawing, typing the desired text in, choosing the font, downloading the image, then importing the image into the desired sprite in Scratch and resizing or moving the text wherever you would like.

Line Tool

The line tool is used for drawing straight lines in the vector editor. A line consists of two points of the spline: one in the beginning and one at the end. To draw a line, click and hold the mouse, and release to draw the line from the starting point of the mouse-click to the release point.

Note Note: to draw a curved line, you must first draw a straight line, select the reshape tool, and shift-click anywhere on the line to create a new point which forms a curve on the line.

Oval Tool (Circle)

The circle tool is used to draw ovals or perfect circles. This can be done by clicking and holding the mouse on the canvas. Then, an oval will form in relation to the mouse's starting and ending coordinates. To draw a perfect circle, hold the shift key while drawing with the oval tool.

Rectangle Tool (Square)

The rectangle tool is used to create a geometric rectangle (4-sided with right-angle corners). When the tool is selected, the rectangle can be drawn clicking and holding down the mouse-pointer, then releasing. The rectangle has four points on it, each at a corner.

Helpful Tips and Hints

  • The resolutions (width by height in pixels) of your costumes and backdrops are shown underneath the costume icons in the costume pane.
  • Costumes and backdrops can be renamed at the top by typing in the text box.
  • You can edit the thickness of an object by selecting it and moving the pen size bar.
  • To zoom in or out, click on the magnifying glass tools in the bottom-right. The one with the "+" zooms in and the one with "–" zooms out. The button between them sets the zoom to 100%. Zooming in when drawing can help to create smoother lines than when zoomed out.
  • If you make a mistake, you can click the undo or redo button at the top.
    • ctrl-z or cmnd-z is a shortcut for undoing
  • You can clear (not delete) a costume or backdrop by clicking the clear button at the top, which leaves it as a blank image.
  • To delete a costume, click on the "x" located at the top-right of the icon, or right-click or shift-click on the costume's icon in the costume pane and select "delete".
  • To duplicate a costume, right-click the desired costume thumbnail. From the pop-up menu, select "Duplicate".
  • To place costumes and backdrops in a desired order, drag their icons to another location in the costumes pane.
  • To fill in the background of a costume or backdrop in the vector editor, create a large rectangle around the borders of the editor, and then fill the space and edges in with the desired color using the paint bucket tool.
  • Objects and pixels can be placed or drawn outside of the canvas, although they may be cut off, as in backdrops, on the stage.
  • To break the stage edges in Scratch 2.0, meaning for a sprite to move freely past the borders, create four vector shapes, fill them transparently, and drag them to each outermost edge of the canvas. Doing so will not physically allow the sprite to move at an infinite location off the stage but far enough to remain unseen, portraying the same sense.
  • At the top toolbar of the Scratch program are two buttons for shrinking or increasing the size of sprites. However, when one of these tools is selected, individual or grouped objects in the vector paint editor can also be clicked on with the tool to have size manipulations. This is an alternative to selecting the object with the mouse-pointer tool and dragging the size boxes to adjust it.

Example Uses

  • Simply to draw something
  • Attach one image to another image
  • Resize an image
  • Censor content, such as the user's face


See also: Scratch Update History

The following table provides a list of publicly announced updates to the paint editor mainly on the forums. There are many other edits unspecified directly by the Scratch Team.

Year Month Day Update(s)
2019 January 2 Paint editor updated to Scratch 3.0. The information on this page is about this version. All previous information can be found at Paint Editor (2.0).

See Also