The screen layout
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.