(P)review of Paint Shop Pro 9 Beta

Written By : Ulukai
August 2004

Jasc has released a beta of Paint Shop Pro, version 9 and I had a look to see what’s new. Paint Shop Pro is software for creating professional digital imaging results. It has been around for quite some time, even back when Windows 3.11 was installed on most computers.

This is a good and cheaper alternative for people wanting to achieve the same results that people get when using Adobe’s Photoshop.

The release of version 8 already hosted allot of (cosmetic) changes over the previous versions. It had new design for the layout and icons and allot of new features.

This version is not as different from version 8, it has more subtle changes.

The first thing I noticed, when starting Paint Shop Pro, is the update feature. It will setup the update procedure and will automatically check for new patches or version on the web.

The design is a little sleeker, icons are updated and a few new features have been added.

This release introduces the painting tools, making it able for you to paint, even on a real canvas.

By opening a new image you can choose the new image type called Art media background. You can then choose what kind of canvas you would like to paint on, changing the texture of the canvas.

Here’s where the new painting tools come in handy. It features an oil brush, chalk, pastel, crayon, colored pencil, marker, palette knife, smear, art eraser and the mixer palette. The first few items are pretty much self explanatory.

These are tools to produce different types of effect when painting on a canvas.

The mixer palette allows users to mix any number of colours into a single paint swatch in a manner similar to a traditional artist's palette.

With this off-canvas palette, you can mix and experiment with colours just like a real palette, and then use your Art Media brushes to make realistic strokes simulating the rich, expressive results you get with physical pigment media such as paint, pastel, pencil, and chalk.

Each painting tool has a check box called trace which you can use to trace pictures underneath the Art media layer.

Art media image can have several layers if you choose to have them, these layers can be wet or dry like real paintings and you can choose these properties to get a certain effect on your painting.

Also new is the distortion filter called displacement mapping. This filter allows the user to warp, or displace, one image based on the contents of another image. It has the option to do 2D offsets using red, green and 3D surface using luminance. 2D offsets using red and green displaces the image using the red and green channels while 3D surface uses luminance to displace pixels in proportion to changes in light.

Like a bump map, this option treats the source image like it's a 3D surface in which pixel luminance values determine height.

The anti-aliasing options for text have been expanded, choices are now off, sharp and smooth. Here’s an example, from left to right is off, sharp and smooth.

The difference is slightly visible, sharp and smooth looks the same, unless you enlarge both.

The text tool now also has the option to place text vertically.

Paint Shop Pro also hosts a few practical changes. You can now also easily view the command history in pane on the side. This shows the history of commands applied to an image.

Selective Undo allows you to choose which step to eliminate without affecting any of the following steps.

The shapes tools have changed and split off in 4 subsections, which are rectangle, eclipse, symmetric and preset shapes.

You can now easily organize your resources with the resource manager dialogue. Paint Shop Pro resources include such items as scripts, picture tubes, patterns, gradients, displacement maps, and workspaces.

The full listing of resources displays along the left side of the file locations dialog. Using a consistent method for managing these resources can make your workflow easier.

Some new digital camera and photo filters have also been added. The Digital Camera Noise Removal Filter scans photos and removes noise while preserving textures.

Compensate for overexposure using the Backlighting Filter.

The Chromatic Aberration Removal Filter helps eliminate the colored glow that appears around the subject’s edges, sometimes known as "purple fringing".

You can set custom white balance, exposure, and sharpening levels when converting raw camera images, if you have a camera. (Hint to editor)

The Fill Flash Filter brightens dark or underexposed shadows.

There are more cosmetic changes found in Paint Shop Pro 9, but these do not change the functions in a big way.

If you would like to try this software for yourself you can download it at http://www.jasc.com


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