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Software Review:JASC Paint Shop Pro 5(Part 2)

Well, What Can You Do?

A big clue to Paint Shop Pro's orientation is in its name: its heart is an image creation and manipulation program, and it's gone through enough cycles of user feedback and revision that it really excels at this.

Personally, I've been using the earlier versions of Paint Shop Pro for years. As only a relatively infrequent (but important) part of my work involves images, I've always found it to be the best program for doing almost anything I wanted quickly, even if I hadn't used it in weeks. Real Web developers don't always have time to read the manual, even if we wanted to, which we don't.

Paint Shop Pro's extremely intuitive color replacer, foreground/background color swap, brightness/contrast/color adjusting, thumbnail browser, and instant zoom to any magnification (with corresponding brush resize for pixel-by-pixel editing) have been lifesavers more times than I can remember.

Significant in Paint Shop Pro's newest capabilities are serious professional features, such as the ability to work with layers (which all Photoshop wannabees will applaud) and to make CMYK color separations (with a great amount of detail-level control over the process). But even new features relatively low on the checkoff totem pole, such as photo retouch, screen capture, and direct support for Kodak digital cameras, add greatly to Paint Shop Pro's usefulness as an integrated "do-all" graphics tool.

Tubular, Dude

One of Paint Shop Pro's best new features is called "Picture Tubes", but a more accurate description might be "toothpaste tubes", because they let you squirt images onto your workspace just like you were squeezing them from a tube of toothpaste. You just select the Picture Tube tool from the toolbar, pick one of the two dozen or so tubes included, which range from Airplanes to Tarantulas (or create your own), start waving your brush over the area you're working on, and full-blown images simply appear! It's great for creating pseudo-random backgrounds or filling up areas. I created the graphics below in a bit over a minute each, from concept to file save (Michaelangelo I'm not, Speedy Gonzales perhaps).

PSP Air and Water

PSP Flies and Rocks

[ Move on to the next part of the review ]

This article first appeared in May, 1998.

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