Differences with the DOS version

If you have been using the DOS version of Grafx2 (or still using it through DOSbox), the following information will tell you how Grafx2 adapts to the new platforms. Even if you've been using the Win32 port by Eclipse-game, some of this information may interest you.


Of course, the main change is that you don't need to run MS-DOS anymore. GrafX2 is now running on a very wide range of operating systems and CPUs.


Long file names are supported. You can see up to 28 characters from the file name in the Save and Load windows, and you can scroll to the left and right for even more. The character encoding used is Windows-1252, but there is some limited support for UTF-8, too.

The "select drive" button allows you to reach the drives (Windows), volumes (Amiga), or mount points (Linux). This replaces the DOS-specific drive icon handling. The list is refreshed each time you click the button, so you can add new drives (USB drive, for example) while the program is running.

On all platforms, the files are sorted in a case-sensitive way, but the "quicksearch" feature is case-insensitive. There is also a new set of bookmark buttons to quickly reach your favorite directories.


The mouse cursor should use exactly the settings of your OS. Grafx2 no longer needs its own mouse settings. The program allows you to bind shortcuts to your third mouse button and mouse wheel, in combination with shift / ctrl / alt if you want. 4th mouse button (and more) is still not supported.

You can type filenames normally, the right characters will appear (within the limits of Latin-1 character set). Pressing control C in text input boxes no longer crashes the program. The configuration of keyboard shortcuts is done directly from the help screen, no need for a separate configuration tool anymore.

The configuration files from the DOS version are still recognized, and GrafX2 will try to migrate as much of your settings as possible.


The program's default mode (and 'safety resolution', the one you can call with Shift+Enter) is now a scalable window, since this is guaranteed to work on all platforms and screens. You can resize or maximize the window using your normal window manager, dragging the window edge etc. The other modes are fullscreen, using whatever technology provides fullscreen modes on the OS (DirectX on Windows, X11? on linux) The program has a preset list of (low-resolution) modes, and checks with SDL if each of them is supported. It also queries SDL for more resolutions, and all modes auto-detected by SDL are added to the list. The resolution screen only shows video modes that SDL claims it can display. If your graphics cards reports a mode that outmatches your monitor's capacities, you can tag it "Unsupported" by clicking the left-column button until it displays a black block. This way, GrafX2 will not use this mode on your system.

About color depth: Grafx2 is still a 256-color program, and will use 256-color mode if they are available. If your hardware or driver only support truecolor/hicolor modes, it will use them instead, SDL does an excellent job of converting on-the-fly 8b->24b.

Since it is uncommon for recent hardware (and drivers) to support low resolution video modes like in the DOS days, GrafX2 now offers an additionnal software scaling. This allows to double or triple the size of the pixels in software, and also allows wide (2x1) or tall (1x2) pixels, as required by some old graphics (C64, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, ...)

The color precision is now 24-bit, instead of 18 in the DOS version (which was limited by the VGA hardware). This can result in some changes to the saved files, for example the maximal color value saved by GrafX2 was 252, not 255, in GIF files.

Power saving

The original GrafX2 is a single-tasking DOS program, it uses all available CPU cycles. This version reduces the cpu usage to what's actually needed, so it will not overheat your machine.

File formats

A lot more file formats are now available, including more modern ones such as PNG. The old custom PKM format is not recommended, instead GrafX2 will now use GIF with some specific extensions to store its own data.

New features

All missing features from the beta versions under DOS are now implemented, and a lot more. The list is quite long (Animations, layers, text, gradients, ...), so maybe you should re-read the complete user manual.

Fortunately, the help system was also improved. You can press the F1 key at any place to get help. This work in all windows, and also while hovering a button in the menu with the mouse. This is also the place where you can set your keyboard shortcuts.

Command line options

You can launch Grafx2 with some command line arguments to open a file directly or get a specific option. Note that on Windows, drag-and-dropping a file on a Grafx2 shortcut will pass the file name as the only command-line argument, so it will start Grafx2 with this file loaded.


displays help, along with a list of the availables videomodes.
Syntax: grafx2 [arguments] [picture1] [picture2]

[arguments] can be:
        -? -h -H -help    for this help screen
        -wide             to emulate a video mode with wide pixels (2x1)
        -tall             to emulate a video mode with tall pixels (1x2)
        -double           to emulate a video mode with double pixels (2x2)
        -wide2            to emulate a video mode with double wide pixels (4x2)
        -tall2            to emulate a video mode with double tall pixels (2x4)
        -triple           to emulate a video mode with triple pixels (3x3)
        -quadruple        to emulate a video mode with quadruple pixels (4x4)
        -rgb n            to reduce RGB precision from 256 to n levels
        -skin [filename]  to use an alternate file with the menu graphics
        -mode [videomode] to set a video mode
Arguments can be prefixed either by / - or --
They can also be abbreviated.

Available video modes:

      window     320x200     320x240     320x256     320x400     320x480
     512x264     512x288     576x240     592x240     608x240     632x264
     704x288     736x240     768x240     768x288     784x240     800x288
    1280x960   1280x1024    1360x768    1600x900   1600x1024   1600x1200
  • /mode 320x200
    starts grafx2 in 320x200 fullscreen video mode. All modes are fullscreen except for the special name "window".
  • /double
    emulates 2x2 pixels,
    emulates 3x3 pixels,
    4x4 pixels. These are useful when the intended display resolution of your picture (eg for 320x240) is much greater than the actual resolution of the display you are editing it on (eg 1280x960), and/or the GUI of Grafx2 is becoming too small / unreadable.
  • /wide
    allow to use rectangle pixels (horizontal and vertical). This is useful to edit Amstrad CPC pictures, for example.
  • /wide2
    are doubled versions of /wide and /tall. That is, /wide2 uses 4x2 pixels, and /tall2 uses 2x4 pixels.
  • /rgb n
    sets the color depth to n. For example, /rgb 2 will give you a spectrum-style 16-colors palette, /rgb 3 will give the Amstrad CPC 27 colors, /rgb 16 will give a classical Amiga palette, and /rgb 64 will give you a VGA palette, like the DOS version of grafx2 had.
  • picture1
    are the names of files to open immediately.
For example:
grafx2 /mode 320x200 My_drawing.png

Version history

GrafX2 has a long history, with the first versions being published in 1996. The development by the original team (Sunset Design) continued until late 1999, when they stopped working on it because no one had interest in running a DOS drawing tool by then. Fortunately, they published the sources so that their work would not be lost.

In 2007, PulkoMandy recovered these sources and ported them to modern operating system. This was the rebirth of GrafX2, which then saw many improvements and finetuning, making it the great tool you know and use today.

Getting Started


This guide is designed to help people get comfortable with Grafx2, it is recommended to read the table of contents and the fundamentals, scanning quickly when you are already familiar with a concept, only stopping to read in-depth details when something surprising or interesting catches your eye.

Each chapter begins with basic information.

Then there are advanced details and techniques, in italic. You can safely ignore them until you are confident in using the basics.

This document tries to avoid repeating lengthy explanations that belong to the user manual, so if  you wonder where is a tool or what it does, please refer to the manual itself or Grafx2's contextual help.

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: (Windows Vista) The installer won't work. It fails to create a directory / write a file

A: Short answer: If you want to install in "Program Files", run the installer with Right-click, 'Run as administrator'.

Long answer:

I made an installer that doesn't request/require administrative rights (XP, Vista). The good part is that you can install the program even if your account is not admin on your machine. Of course, you need to choose a directory where you are allowed to write. The bad part is that the default proposed directory is in 'Program files', and normal users don't have the right to write there.

Starting the program

Q: Is it possible to launch the program in fullscreen mode ?

A: Yes, you just have to type

grafx2 /mode <mode_name>
in a command line prompt. Type
grafx2 /?
to get the list of all the video modes.

Q: The program doesn't start at all.. no message, nothing.

Check the program's directory for a file called stderr.txt. It will show the reason GrafX2 didn't start.

Q: I changed many settings and don't like the results.

You can restore all settings to defaults by deleting files gfx2.cfg and gfx2.ini


Q: How can I set the dimensions of the picture?

A: We thought it was obvious that you had to click in the areas where the dimensions are written in the resolution menu (Width & Height) but many people asked this question (?!). So, to sum up, everywhere you'll see a value or text written in black in a sort of encrusted area, this means that if you click on it, you'll be able to modify its value. Moreover, if you want the picture dimensions to be the same as the ones of the screen, you just have to right-click on the resolution in the list.

Q: Why aren't the hidden parts of the picture filled when I use the "Flood fill" tool?

A: For the simple and "quite" good reason that it is preferable that the user controls perfectly what he is drawing. Thus, he won't see too late that he has fucked up a part of his picture. The other tools work the same way. And for the less good reason that is was more convenient for us. ;)

Q: The program is very slow and the mouse cursor has a lag of several seconds!

A: This is because you've bought a gamer mouse from Logitech or Razor, or you've foolishly "overclocked" your USB mouse port from its normal 125Hz to 500Hz or 1000Hz, even though your mouse will reports 2 or 4 times the same position...

This can also happen with a PS2 mouse, if you set the PS2 rate to 200Hz instead of classic 80Hz and 100Hz, and your PC is 10 years old and can't keep up. GrafX2 is designed to record all mouse events in a queue, and try to take each of them into account, even if a delay is needed, in order to faithfully reproduce your mouse movements in all its details.

An unreasonable mouse rate ( > 100Hz) defeats this purpose, because it causes up to 1000 screen updates per second, and your computer just can't keep up. Try editing the Merge_movement setting in the gfx2.ini file. 0 means "don't merge events", a higher setting will make grafx2 skip one mouse position (or more) if there is another, more recent one in the input queue. We recommend you increase this value one by one until you don't see any lag when moving. If you increase it too much, it will be all right, except that when you use cpu-intensive functions, the cursor will seem to go in straight lines from one position to another, instead of replaying the curve where you actually moved. In practice, values of 5 and 10 should fix the problem for people who use a mouse that runs 500Hz and 1000Hz respectively.

Q: The mouse cursor is imprecise and jumps several pixels at a time!

A: This is because your computer is too slow to process all mouse events one after another and merges them to go faster. Note this can happen on fast computers if you have a high precision mouse. The solution is to decrease the Merge_movement setting in the gfx2.ini config file. 0 means "more precision", bigger values means the program will run faster, but with more cursor jumps. Values under 10 should work well enough for everyone. Do some testing to find the perfect settings.

Q: The mouse cursor sometimes randomly becomes mad and jumps some pixels away, then comes back!

A: This is because Grafx2 allows you to move the cursor with a joystick instead of the mouse. Some joysticks tend to report buggy values even when you don't touch them, causing the cursor to move. Unplug your joystick and it will work better.

Q: Help there's no menu!

When the menu is hidden, hit F10 to show it again (default shortcut)

Q: How can I make the brush become monochrome, and how can I get it back to its normal state?

A: You can do it (assuming that you haven't modified the default keys) with the keys Shift+F4 to make the brush become monochrome, and Shift+B to get the multi-coloured brush back. With the mouse, it's Right-click on the brush selection icon, and Right-click on the Brush grab icon.


Q: No sound comes out from my Ultra-maxi-sound-blaster-galaxy-64-3D-pnp, so what can I do?

A: Well... You must understand that this program is not a soundtracker nor a music-player :) ... So if you want some music, you'll have either to play modules with a good player, or to switch your Hi-Fi on.

Try visiting ​http://scenemusic.net for some good music.

Q: Where can I get the latest version of GrafX2?

A: The only place where you will find the latest version for sure is our web site grafx2.tk or the dedicated gitlab page . Nevertheless, it isn't impossible that GrafX2 may also be found on FTP or web sites dedicated to the "demo-scene" (e.g. ​ftp://ftp.scene.org).

Q: Why is the tool bar at the bottom of the screen instead of at the right side like in Deluxe Paint (copyright Electronic Arts)?

A: Well... GrafX2 IS NOT Deluxe Paint! We know that you are used to Deluxe Paint but you'll have to get used to GrafX2! ;) If you really can't stand using GrafX2 like this, then you'll have to wait for GrafX3 but we probably won't release it before year 2020! Actually, the main reason why we put the tool bar with such a basical aspect is that it was easier (therefore faster) to redraw the whole screen just by telling the routine where to stop (where starts the tool bar). Moreover, one of the best Amiga paint programs (Brilliance) has got the tool bar at the bottom of the screen too.

Q: Will Grafx2 allow editing truecolor images ?

A: We won't do it. There are already many good programs that specialize in truecolor, and most of the effects in Grafx2 just don't have any equivalent in truecolor. Note that the source code of Grafx2 is freely available under the GPL license, so anybody is free to start such project on his own. Or pick a piece of code from Grafx2 (the spline tool, an effect, anything) and re-use it in an other drawing program.

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