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Paint Shop Pro X review
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Paint Shop Pro X review by Vincent Oliver

The popularity of digital capture has forced image editing applications to add features that address common photographic problem areas, such as barrel distortions, chromatic aberrations, low light noise, RAW file compatibility, work with EXIF information, amongst many others. Paint Shop Pro X boasts many new features specifically for the digital photographer and at a price point that would make it seem like a bargain.

This is Corel’s first release of Paint Shop Pro since they acquired JASC over a year ago. The PSP interface has been given a face lift, at long last Paint Shop Pro is beginning to shake of a shareware look. Of course a new lick of paint alone doesn’t make the application better, so let’s take a closer look and see what improvements Corel has made to Paint Shop Pro.

The default interface with browser at bottom

A new look

On launching Paint Shop Pro you are presented with an easy to follow interface. On the left hand edge is the Learning centre, this provides a step by step guide to opening, manipulating, and printing your images. When you select any of the editing tools the Learning centre displays tips on how to use the selected tool – clever stuff.

The Learning centre prompts you every step of the way.

The first step is to browse for an image, PSP provides an built-in browser which is displayed by default at the bottom of the screen. This is perhaps not the best place as the thumbnails are displayed quite small and it’s generally awkward to navigate to other folders. A better option is to drag the Browser palette out of the bottom position and place it on the desktop, at least whilst looking for images. Set the thumbnail size via a zoom slider to the required viewing size. The browser displays the folders hierarchy on the left and thumbnails on the right, just double click or drag an image onto the desktop to open. Once opened there is an option to close the Browser automatically (via the Preferences). In this release of PSP X this function didn’t work. Another small bug is that the navigation bars in the browser tended to lock - the only way out was to close it and restart the browser.

Expanded Browser palette showing folder tree on left

Using a screen display of 1024 x 768 leaves the work area cluttered with very little room for manipulating photographs. Fortunately, you can customise just about every aspect of the interface from showing icons to creating your own toolbars. closing the Learning Centre frees up nearly 25% of the screen area. The palettes (Layers, Overview, Materials, Scripts, History etc.) can be docked on the edge and can also be set to Auto Hide, this means they only open when your cursor hovers over them. A much better practice is to memorize the unique keystrokes to activate the required palettes, i.e. the F8 key opens and closes the Layers palette.

Interface can become cluttered
minimise the palettes for more image editing space


17 October, 2005

© Vincent Oliver 2008 www.photo-i.co.uk
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