With the development of Deluxe Paint, EA introduced the ILBM and ANIM file format standards for graphics. Although widely used on the Amiga, they never gained widespread acceptance on other platforms. The PC conversion was used by Lucasarts to make graphics for their adventure games such as Monkey Island, and is the source of the name of the main character in the Monkey Island series, Guybrush Threepwood - the character's name derived from the "guy.brush" file used to store his image data.
Early versions of Deluxe Paint were available in both protected and non copy-protected versions, the latter retailing for a slightly higher price. This copy-protection was later dropped. Deluxe Paint was part of a series of products from the Electronic Arts Tools group — later moved to the ICE (for Interactivity, Creativity, and Education) group — which included such Amiga programs as Deluxe Music, Deluxe Video, and the Studio series of paint programs for the Macintosh.
The Amiga's chipset only natively supports indexed colour, where a pixel's colour value does not carry any RGB hue information but instead is an index to a colour palette, which contains a limited number of RGB hues. A consequence of this is that changing a hue of a palette entry automatically changes all pixels of that colour in the image. Creative artists could use this to their advantage to create a semblance of animation by using cycling colours.
Deluxe Paint III added support for Extra Halfbrite on Amigas equipped with the enhanced chip set. It also added editing modes that allowed one to stencil certain colors, and perform blurs on the stencils in such a way as to produce a glow effect. Deluxe Paint III also added the ability to create cel-like animation, and animbrushes. These let the user create cel-like animations, as well as the ability to pick up a section of an animation as an "animbrush", which can then be placed onto the canvas while it animates. Deluxe Paint III was one of the first paint programs to support animbrushes. These are similar to The GIMP anim brushes or tubes in Paint Shop Pro.
Animations stored in IFF ANIM format were delta compressed, making animations even smaller and faster on playback. This predates public availability of MPEG sources by about half a decade, but still significant for the time.
Deluxe Paint IV, which did not feature Silva as the Lead Programmer, was significantly less elegant and crashed more often than its predecessors, though it did offer significant new features like non-bitplane-indexed HAM support. Version 4.5 AGA, which appeared the following year, addressed the stability issues along with providing support for the new A1200/A4000 AGA machines and a revamped screen mode interface. It appeared in both standalone and Commodore-bundled versions.
The final release of Deluxe Paint, version 5, had support for true 24-bit RGB images. However, using only the normal AGA native chipset, the 24-bit RGB colour was only held in computer memory, the on-screen image still appeared in indexed colour.
The heavy reliance on an indexed colour model allowed for a rather different way of working, not generally found on many popular paint programs since. The intimate linking of palette and image data made DPaint an excellent tool for creating bitmapped icons, animation and game graphics in the days before true colour images became commonplace.
For example, transparency was as simple as selecting a background colour index (a single right click on the palette GUI to change). Colours could be locked from editing by use of a stencil (a list of colour indexes whose pixels should not be altered in the image data.) And simple colour-cycling animations could be created using contiguous entries in the palette. It was also easy to change the hue and tone of a section of the image by altering the corresponding colours in the palette.
Brushes can be cut from the background by using the box or polygon selection tools. They can then be used in the same manner as any other brush or pen. This functionality is simpler to use than the "stamp" tool of Photoshop or Alpha Channels as provided in later programs. Brushes can also be rotated and scaled, even in 3D.
The most successful PC version was Deluxe Paint II Enhanced 2.0, which was compatible with ZSoft's PC Paintbrush PCX image format file. It supported the CGA, EGA, MCGA and VGA IBM-compatible PC graphic cards, the Hercules, Tandy and Amstrad proprietary video cards and the main of the first Super VGA video cards (manufacturer dependent) modes, enabling it to support up to 800×600 pixel screen resolution with 256 (from 262,144) colors and 1024×768 pixels with 16 colors.
The MS-DOS conversion was carried out by Brent Iverson and its enhanced features were by Steve Shaw.
Its sister product Deluxe Animator (only for 320×200 pixels and 256 colors) was widely used, especially in the videogame industry.