NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2004
Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8
by Maureen Shannon, NJPCUG

Those of you who have attended my Graphics SIG or have asked me about what graphics programs I would recommend know that Paint Shop Pro is by far my favorite application. I’ve been using Paint Shop Pro since it was shareware and have watched it grow and improve and become a major contender in the graphics market place. No matter what I have pushed Paint Shop Pro to do, it has come through with flying colors and never let me down. I simply love this application. I couldn’t wait for version 8 to be released so that I could see what new features had been added to it.  

If you are a long time Paint Shop Pro user, version 8 is a jolt to the system. It is a radical change from version 7. It looks like a wrecking ball went through version 7 and left nothing but the name to recognize! It’s a totally new look with new ways of working with it. For anyone who is new to Paint Shop Pro you will not have any problem working with it. It’s still easy to work with but has been updated with more powerful tools and a more professional design. For those of us old timers, it takes a little time to adjust to all of the changes. The new design was created to give the application a more professional look and hopefully appeal to a wider audience. The once familiar tool bar now has new icons on it. There are those who complain when new versions of products don’t have major changes…this version will please them very much. Jasc has changed just about everything in an effort the make the application more professional looking and in adding new functionality. New look or old, Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro is still an application that everyone who wants to work with graphics should consider having in their application collection. As far as I am concerned, it is and has been an excellent product and stands out in the image editing field, and I put it through it paces so I know what I am talking about and I have never been disappointed with it. Version 7 users take heart, you can restore the old workspace look if you prefer it. From the menu choose File > Workspace > Load and then select Paint Shop Pro 7 from the Workspace dialog box.  

The image is the new interface. The colors are new, the toolbar (left side) features the new tool icons and a new feature….flyouts. (Flyouts are -) Tools with multiple options will open out when you click on the little black down arrow revealing the rest of tools that are part of that tool’s selections. Palettes now dock below the standard toolbar and show all of the tool options and update as you work. Floating palettes such as the Layers palette will dock if you bring them up and touch the top toolbar. The other item that is floating but resting over the top of the interface is the overview. When you run the mouse over this (providing you have selected to have the palette roll-up when not in use), you will see the image you are working along, a tab with the image information, and you can zoom in and out by clicking the appropriate zoom tool.  

A new change that I found that is very nice is the ease of adding locations for the plug-ins, tubes, and other necessary data. It took a little creativity in the past to get PSP to accept more that two plug-in folders but now the new version will allow you to add multiple locations and it recognizes and alphabetizes the plug-in into columns when they are loaded and selected. Another new feature is the file extensions have been changed. Previously a file saved in the applications native format had a “.psp” file extension now it’s been changes to “’pspimage”. The “tube” files have also changed to “.psptube” from “.tube”. Some tool restructuring has gone one too. Tools have been removed from the previous versions “Retouch” tool set and now reside in two brush collections, one for coloration properties (lighten, darken, saturation, hue, etc.) and the other for brushes that do dodge, burn, emboss, sharpen, soften, etc. The Sharpen and Blur effects once found under the Effects menu now are located under the “Adjust” menu. All of these changes were made to bring the application a more organized look. It’s a little confusing at first when you have worked with the other style for so long. However the menu’s now contain a lot of new items to make more adjustments and corrections to images and make the work flow easier once you know your way around.

Another new feature is the ability to create scripts. I have to admit to not having taken advantage of this feature in other applications before this. Having never tried it, I was a little afraid of doing it. But when faced with a large number of images that needed resizing and saving, I decided to create a script and see how well it would work. I had 50+ images that were all the same size. Each image needed to be cropped, saved, and closed. So I opened the script tool, selected record to record the steps, and created a script that would repeat this same task over and over for me. Instead of going through all the steps on each image, I simply ran the script on each image. It worked perfectly. I was amazed at how well it worked and at my stupidity for not trying this before. Sometimes we are so set in our ways that we don’t take advantage of things that are right in front of us! Paint Shop Pro comes with several scripts that are pre-made. You can create any script of your own, save it, and then use it over and over. For tasks that are repetitive or a procedure that you use frequently and would like a script to do it, this is a really great new tool.  

If you need help, the new Learning Center is there to answer your questions and provide you with all the help you need. It contains sections entitled Quick Guides, Basic Tasks, Correcting Photos, Graphics Projects, and Photo Projects. The Leaning Center can be kept open in a floating palette or closed and accessed from the Help Menu.  

Features include:

For Images: Align a crooked image, Reshape distorted images, erase backgrounds, One click fixes for common problems(such as red-eye), professional style color adjustment tools; Tools to repair and enhance photos, special effects, hand tinting, view, download and manage images, share photos through print, email or online; browse images and effects

Creative Image tools: Create collages, distort images, special effect filters, Convert an image to dots (halftome), wrap around a path or object, take screen shots (capture), batch processing, Create and edit scripts or use preset scripts, magnify lens effect, text tool, pen tool, selection tools,

An integrated learning system

Free technical support

Artistic Tools: Paint with solid colors, textures, patterns, gradients; the stylus from a digital tablet can be used a paint brush; paint with Picture Tubes; Preset shapes

Customize the look and layout the workspace and tool palettes to suit your personal needs or chose from preset workspaces

Web Images: Create seamless backgrounds, Web tools add light, shadow, 3D effects, slice images, optimize images, create rollover effects, hot spots, or animations, choose from over 100 one-click special effects  

There is a lot of focus on bringing more strength to the task of working with digital images. More features and options are available in this version than ever before. Your images can be color corrected, repaired, enhanced, and managed all through Paint Shop Pro’s collection of Photo tools. You can keep the Photo toolbar selected to allow the tools to be available to you at all times. In addition to all the included features you also have the option of installing numerous plug-ins to increase your ability to enhance and correct images. This version of Paint Shop Pro manages plug-ins better than earlier version too. It’s so much easier to direct the application to the plug-in directories that you want to include if you have a separate place that you install plug-ins too. I do this. I have so many plug-ins that I install everything into one application directory and then point all other applications plug-in selection to this spot. Paint Shop Pro also lets you browse folders for images or selection them through the regular “Open” method. The browse method gives you a full thumbnail view of all the files and folders on you drive. This is a big help when you are searching through folders for an image and not sure of its name.  

I found the photo tools worked quite well. I also went to Jasc’s web site and found a large number of tutorials for levels ranging from novice to advanced with some very interesting and creative techniques. So I tried one that said it was an effect that photographers use and charge $100 or more to do. The tutorial was for version 7 but easily adapted to version 8. It was quite easy to do too. I’ve included it to give an example of the quality of work that can be done with Paint Shop Pro. This image was an old photo that I had. I repaired the scratches in it with the scratch remover tool, split the RBG channels for a better black and white image, adjusted the contrast, and then added the mirrored head image to the photo. I was very impressed with the tools I used and the ease of creating this effect! A flash tutorial of this technique, showing what I did step by step, is available in the SIG Review Section. Go to the Jasc web site and select tutorials, “Deforming Photo Objects”, for the original tutorial and a downloadable image to work with.  

One of my favorite tools is the Picture Tube tool. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a tool that “sprays” an image, a “Picture tube”, onto a background or on another image. If you don’t know what that would look like, take a look at our home page on any given month. 99% of the images I use on the home page have been created with Paint Shop Pro using picture tubes. Picture tubes can create the most amazing images that look so real you wouldn’t realize they weren’t photos. The can also be used to build any type of scene either with real objects used as tubes or illustrated graphics. Either way, they are wonderful. I have loved them from the moment I first saw them. I create and collect lots of tubes and have a large amount of them to select from. Creating your own personal tubes and adding them to the Paint Shop Pro collection is also very easy. Visit our web site, http://www.njpcug.org, in the Graphics & Web Dev SIG area, review section, you will find a flash tutorial showing how to create and add tubes to Paint Shop Pro. Pictures tubes are a total delight to work with and very addicting once you start. The image example was created with tubes. The tree trunk, the leaves, the branches, grass, mountains, bird, plants, all are individual tubes, layered, to create the scene.  

One other feature that is included with Paint Shop Pro is an animation program. I don’t use it that often but I when I need to make an animation, I am very glad that it is part of this product. It has come in handy quite a few times. It is another product that is easy to work with, has some very interesting effects, and does what you want it to do.  

Overall Paint Shop Pro is one of the best applications that I can recommend for image editing. I haven’t really focused on the illustrating elements of PSP because I use the other features more. However all extra features of the application only enhance it’s ability to bring you a full featured application that can stand the test of time against many other products and come out a winner. I often recommend having more than one image editor if possible because features and capabilities will vary from application to application but if you need a place to begin or want an application that works well to include in your toolbox, has many, many features, and is easy to use, then you’ll want to have Paint Shop Pro as your image editing application choice. I couldn’t imagine not having Paint Shop Pro to work with. I use it every day for one task or another and have always had great success with it. *The “Keyhole” graphic was crated with the Selection Tool shapes (circles, ellipses, rectangles) fills, lines drawn on the iris, and other elements to “draw” and enhance this image. (Tutorial available in Graphics SIG section)

I want to mention again that if you are working with photos whether simple editing or complex repairs and procedures, you will be very impressed with the new tools and the strong capabilities that Paint Shop Pro has in this area. Combine Paint Shop Pro with some good plug-in effects and tools and you will be amazed at what can be accomplished. If you aren’t sure about how to do things, do visit the Jasc web site and take advantage of the excellent tutorials that they have. You’ll be doing professional quality work in no time! I highly recommend Paint Shop Pro 8 for anyone who needs a full featured image editing application. See the SIG section for a couple of tutorials on retouching and red-eye removal. The example above has been color corrected, retouched, and I added a lighting effect.

I have included a comparison flash demo in the Graphics SIG Review section so that those of you who are interested in viewing the differences will be able to see them in full color screen shot images. http://www.njpcug.org/graphics/index.htm (direct link to the SIG section) Visit the Jasc web site for more information on their products. http://www.jasc.com and for updates. The current version is 8.01 which is the version I am reviewing. To Purchase Direct from Jasc Software, Inc. - Paint Shop Pro is available on Jasc’s web site for $109 for the boxed version plus S&H (includes a printed manual + extras), $99 for the download or by these methods:

Toll-Free Order Line: 800-622-2793
Fax: 952-930-9172
E-mail: customer.service@jasc.com
Order Form for mail and fax orders available on their web site http://www.jasc.com

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