View Full Version : Paint Shop Pro

01-09-2009, 07:58 AM
This is a tut for Paint Shop Pro which I would hope various people will contribute to. I hadnt realized that people wanted to know much about this app as its just another paint app with slightly different user interface (UI) than the others but basically it does the same job.

I'll start with some basic stuff then go on to layers and then some effects and finally arithmetic which is where I think its best features are at.

I am on V7 point something and there were a few sevens I think then it went 8 or 9. The older versions are not all that dissimilar. The app up to something like PSP 3 was a shareware, front of magazine give away and was one of the original 'build a market based on free stuff then make it commercial' setups that made other apps try to do the same thing. It got pen tablet features at about 5 the it changed ownership from JASC to Corel later on and I think the main app developer left it and its never been quite as good. Generally people have said that its become better then got to a zenith and then started getting worse. I don't know what to say about that but I needed the pen tablet features and there was a few cool extras but by about V7 it had all I needed out of a paint package so I kinda stopped upgrading then. I am not sure what I am missing that new versions can do but I don't think its impacting on its ability.

PSP is both a raster and vector app but really its much stronger in the raster side that I don't think many people use it for its vector abilities so I wont cover that area at all.

01-09-2009, 08:01 AM
The screen layout

01-09-2009, 08:11 AM
The app is a standard windows 'multidoc' type with all of its windows inside the main frame. On the title bar is a tool bar docking point and you can also dock them on the usual places like right hand side. This is useful for a paint app as you can have some common tools there. I personally put the color swatch there and have the main tools at the top - docked - unlike the image shown but that shows you that you can have the tool bar undocked too and floating.

There is also a tool options windows and a number of other useful tool bars which we will come to a mo.

The tool bars are customizable like most windows apps but its a good idea to have the magnifier zoomer up there, crop, select, and other common painting tools like airbrush, pen, line, fill etc.

For each image the title bar shows the name of the image. If it has a * next to it then its been changed since last save. Next is its current zoom level so the [1:7] means its seven times smaller than native. Then there is the layer so (background) is the current layer. Every image has a background and additionally there are as many layers as you want on top. Usually you would just deal in the background layer until you want some layer effects etc.

The current image has its title bar in dark blue (or whatever windows skin your running) and for that image the status bar at the bottom of the app shows some basic information about that. It shows the resolution and colours used such as "903 x 600 x 16 Million" then it shows the amount of memory that image is using such as 1.5Mb. The amount of memory is basically width x height x color depth x number of layers.

01-09-2009, 08:12 AM
The tool options window

01-09-2009, 08:19 AM
The tool options window is whats called 'context sensitive', i.e. what it shows depends on what tool you have selected. In this case its showing a pen brush.

In the top right hand corner is a button next to the 'X' close button which is an auto roll up / pin open button. I keep mine pinned open but you can optionally have the window scroll up to just the title bar until your mouse goes over it where it unfurls.

You can open this window with the 'O' key too or get to it with view / toolbars / tick tool options.

The window contains parameters for that tool. So the size of the pen, what shape, opacity, hardness (i.e. edge fade) and density (stipple effect). The 'step' is the threashold of move before it plops another one down and is in percentage so 5 = 5%. Theres a different set of params for each tool so you will have to try them all to see them.

The window has tabs so that there are more params on the next tab. In this case its for showing precise cursors, brush outlines and pen tablet pressure sensitivity options.

01-09-2009, 08:25 AM
On the right in my screen pic you can see the color swatch. If you click into this area with LMB then it picks up that color for the brush for the foreground. If you click with RMB then you get that color as the background brush color.

When you paint with a pen you can click with LMB or RMB to get either color. When you paste down a shape like a square or circle then it will do it with a border in foreground and fill with background.

If you don't want a fill or a border then you can set either foreground or background to no color. To do that there is a little arrow on the color box which opens into a number of icons. One is the no color. One is paint with a pattern. One is paint solid color (default) and one is paint with a gradient.

There is also a 'lock' checkbox. PSP holds the color settings for each tool type individually unless you lock it. Then the color is the same when you switch tools.

IMO the color swatch and picker is not a great bit of UI for a paint app but you get used to it after a while. Its changed between versions a lot too.

01-09-2009, 08:36 AM
You can create a new image with the new button or menu item.

It asks for the size and resolution and the size can be in pixels, inches, or cm and the res is in pixels per in or pixels per cm.

The background color can be a number of basic colors, the current brush colors or no color.. All pretty easy.

The image type is the image bit depth so usual set of 1,4,8,8 grey, or 24 bit. There is an implicit ability to do alpha channel compositing which may or may not get saved out depending on the file format.

You can open an image in the usual way. As I said on another thread, PSP 7 does not handle PNG with 8 bit alpha but Johnn says that PSP 8 can. Makes little difference to me tho. The images it can open are usually up to about 12K pix square when it starts to crash with really big images. Gimp and PhotoShop do better here. Again tho this is not used all that often because images > 8K or so should be tiled.

One nice feature of PSP is its browser where it can look in a directory and get all the images and put them up. It has a usual explorer style nested folders list on the left and the images on the right. You can drag images into folders, rename them and click on them to bring them up using this feature. You can quickly get to it using 'ctrl B'. One thing to bear in mind is that you have to manually update the folder tree if it changes. To get to that you must RMB in the thumbnail window and select 'refresh tree'. When you close the browser it saves a file into that directory of the thumbs and info so its quick next time you browse there. This feature is a strong one of the app.

01-09-2009, 08:43 AM
Layers tool options

01-09-2009, 08:47 AM
You can press the 'L' key or use the view / toolbars / layer options to get at the layers toolbar. You can add a layer using the menu bar Layers / New Raster Layer and it will ask for what kind of layer. You can usu the normal one or some effects here like lighten, darken, multiply etc. You can name layers too if you want to.

Once you have a new layer then it will become the current layer, the title bar of the current window will change too. You have sliders to adjust the amount of effect for each layer. You can lock them or disable them from the window.

Eventually you can merge them, either all or visible. When you save the image you need to save out in PSP format in order to keep the layers intact when reopening it. Otherwise merges will be applied before save.

01-09-2009, 08:55 AM
Theres a whole bunch of effects. The image below shows the original top left then blur, gaussian blur, find edges, color invert, and swirl.

Theres too many to deal with in detail but there is also an effects browser where it will show a thumb of your image with each one applied.

Gaussian Blur is very useful, (Pixelate under the geometric effects) is also useful for resampling too. There are various color modifications you can do with simple brightness / contrast changes, color curve stuff and all sorts of other things but I only use about 1/10th of them.

01-09-2009, 09:04 AM
Arithmetic can be very useful. You can take two images and make another based on math between them. So for instance in the image below is the color texture and light map for some terrain. By multiplying them then the result is the ole shaded relief.

By using masks you can mask in stuff too. Although PSP mas masks as a feature I think its easier to use arithmetic. By using a combo of lightest, darkest, multiply and add you can mask in stuff or create extra effects over and above those in the effects menu.

01-09-2009, 09:09 AM
Theres loads more but it would be like trying to write the whole manual to do it justice. I think PSP is a capable paint program. Its on par with Gimp and PS for basic mapping stuff though there's bound to be additional features which it lacks. If I had to start from nothing I would go with Gimp but as it is I know this app well and I don't see any need to change. If you have it then its not a big problem to stay with it.

Its not good for everything but then neither is Gimp and PS. As Johnn said its not easy to scale and rotate tokens on a map as easy as other apps like mine, MapTool, or DungeonForge for example so if you have a LOT of that to do like we do in mapping then its best to take the images into that and run from that instead. You wont need to have zillions of layers to ensure that you can keep modifying the image. For strong vector work I would go with inkscape too but my style is not very vector based.

01-09-2009, 09:11 AM
Wade in with more stuff or ask questions and ill do my best. Heres my first one, Johnn whats the differences in UI and capability between this one and V8 ?

01-09-2009, 10:02 AM
Looks like you have a great deal of it in detail.

I have V7. I hate and avoid the Arithmetic part. Use the program to create Perlin Clouds the hard way. I think there may have been a filter/effect that made clouds automatically, but it must have expired its free trial thing.

01-09-2009, 11:10 AM
I use PSP for looking at images, loading and saving them in the very general image management kind of way. For actual image changing I cut stuff out of photos, color balance and do that stuff and I use the arithmetic bits quite a bit.

I use another program to generate my noise too. PSP noise effects are absolutely bloody awful. Still you can create a very small greyscale image, noise it up a lot then resample (bicubic) up 2x, maybe add a little blur then add more noise to it, resample up 2x again and keep going and eventually it makes for some good noise that way.

If you know of a good way to get cloud like noise in PSP then shout it out.

Steel General
01-09-2009, 11:39 AM
Guys I found this plugin (see attached). It's actually for Photoshop but it worked in version 10 of PSP - not sure if it will work in older versions. It seems to work pretty well, and has several options which the standard FILTER > RENDER > CLOUDS (In Photoshop) doesn't have.

Here's a sample I created with it.

01-09-2009, 02:31 PM
Still you can create a very small greyscale image, noise it up a lot then resample (bicubic) up 2x, maybe add a little blur then add more noise to it, resample up 2x again and keep going and eventually it makes for some good noise that way.

Basically that method, with layers and 50% Layer Opacity on each layer.

01-10-2009, 07:17 AM
jfrazierjr jas asked me to show how I make maps with PSP but the thing is that generally I don't map with PSP. It isn't a dedicated mapping program and so some of the things I want to do for a map cant be done with a paint app - PSP, Gimp, Photoshop or any other. Or at least its a bit tedious to do it with them.

Below is what I use it for. I have created a mask for mud in my wooded village which is then put with others similar to it into my texture compositor to make the whole village terrain.

Another thing is taking photos and cutting out the color and alpha shapes out of the images to make up a token widgety thing. That is then put into my ViewingDale as a token and I put them on a map.

Either of these processes could have been done with PSP. You can take the mud mask and add it in as a mask layer with the mud texture and build it up. You would have many mask layers and texture layers to do it but it would work. Thats not quite as good as how I do it but its not all that tedious either.

You can also take the token B&W mask, scale and rotate it, position into the map and then use the mask layer or the arithmetic to black out a section on the map then you can take the color and do exactly the same but overlay the color in instead of masking with it and it will put that token down onto the map with full alpha blending. With V8 it seems to handle PNG's with alpha so thats half that work but even so for either of them that really is tedious.

By using a mapping app like ViewingDale, DungeonForge, MapTool or Dundjinni you can spend a little effort making the token but then its available at any time to put as many down as you want and in multiple maps. You can reposition and change its rotation instantly with no layer changes and no disruption to the pixels causing loss of quality. You can set the rotate center point instead of rotating at a corner. Also the scaling will be perfect every time. You can snap tokens to a grid and have the grid set in real world units. Also, with mine, you can build up hierarchies so that man can hold sword and sit on horse. Then horse, man and sword can go in and be positioned and rotated in one go instead of doing each man, each horse and each sword every time. To my mind, its a no brainer. Also, since the tokens can be made with maximum native resolution then we can just export a map at quadruple res for sending to GP for print and it will have that detail in it. If using a paint app then you only have the map at the resolution that you made the map in. If you wanted to be safe then you can make all your maps at high res but then you have to keep scaling everything down for other res scales. All this is bypassed with a mapping program. The absolute killer tho is when you want to put one map into another - like a map of an inn into a village. By keeping all the tokens outside of a raster then any changes to the inn are automatically updated to the village. That's a manual job in a paint package all assuming you have the village with layers holding the inn so that you can delete the inn and put a new version in.

PSP is a capable program for painting but I don't think that a raster paint app alone is the best way to map. That's my opinion of course and many people produce great maps with just a paint program.

01-15-2009, 02:42 PM
Producing the Perlin Clouds, I Create an Image (1st image) with the Add Noise and Copy/Paste into a new image (2nd image-1st Layer). Go into the 1st image and resize 2x Copy/Paste as 2nd image's 2nd layer go into the 2nd Layer's properties make it 50% Opacity. Go back to the 1st image resize again at 2x, copy/Paste to 2nd image as 3rd layer also, make this Layer at 50% Opacity. Keep repeating all of this until you reach 6 Layers in the 2nd image. Then move each layers around in the image until you like the result. Merge layers.

Take notice that you only need 6 layers to make a Perlin Cloud Image.
Example is Here:Perlin Noise (http://freespace.virgin.net/hugo.elias/models/m_perlin.htm)
Go down until it says: "Some noise functions are created in 2D"