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Paint Shop Pro Tips

Merging into the background Remember your background color
Talent.8bf Plugin Making round-edged boxes
One Click Fill Good way to make it glow
Extra color picker! Spotty Looking Images
Unerase

Quick background tile

PSP keeps acting very strange

Never work on the original graphics

Many menu options are greyed out, why?

Making thumbnails in PSP

Adding simple watermark

Zoom tool for precision work
Turning paper art into graphics Text on a curve or circle
Previewing an effect Removing the bands from a gradient fill

Creating a custom gradient 

Help Tips
Tool Tips Undo Tips
Saving Files Tips Viewing Tips
Text Tips Layers Tips
Transparent GIF's Transparent Grid Lines
Soft Edges Effect Create as Vector/Selection/Floating

PSP 8 New Tools

 

 

Use the Information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of Use"

Merging into the background

You want to merge the edges of your image into the background. This is a very simple way: in the color palette make the background color the color you want.
  1. Selections > Select All
  2. Selections > Modify > Contract (try some 10 or 15 pixels)
  3. Selections > Modify > Feather (also some 10 or 15 pixels)
  4. Selections > Invert
  5. Hit the delete key, repeat if necessary.

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Remember your background color

If you want your background color to be consistent why not save a little picture filled with only your background color. If you want to merge anything into your background, all you have to do is load that little picture, right-click it with the Color Picker, and your background color should be just right!

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Talent.8bf Plugin

In our never-ending quest for filters and plug-ins that may make your graphic life easier, our attention was drawn by one plugin that, we found, everybody already has got built into his system, the plugin TALENT.8BF. It may be invisible to you, but you have it, so there's no need to provide you with any link to download it.
But we do think you should be reminded of some of the requirements in its Readme.txt: "the Talent plugin won't work properly unless you have a large amount of EXPERIENCE installed in your system, and even then the Operating System won't recognize your Experience unless you have, over the time, regularly updated the components STUDY.DLL and PRACTICE.DLL. Without these two, only the most basic features of Talent.8bf are enabled, preventing you from using Talent's full capabilities". The Readme file also states that "Talent, Study, Practice and Experience will only work well together if you have JOY.INI properly installed anywhere in your system".

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Making round-edged boxes

Helps to do this in layers, and then merge when complete:
  1. Create your square or rectangle.
  2. Cut a equal-sized square from each of the corners.
  3. Create an equal-sized circle in every corner, align so that the circle does not protrude from the box.
  4. Cut away the bits of the circle that are inside the box.
May also be done on a rectangle with 2 circles only (having the same diameter as the rectangle) for a 'pill' effect.

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One Click Fill

To get an entire selection to fill with one click, just set the Tolerance to 100 or set the match mode to "none". You should be able to find these settings in the tool option box as usual. 

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Good way to make it glow

To get a glow effect in PSP:
  1. Select what you want to glow.
  2. Go image > Effects > Drop shadow
  3. Set shadow color to white, blur to 25 (of less for a tighter glow) and both offsets to 0.
  4. Gamma correct the results by a high number
This will show best on a dark background.

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Extra color picker!

Press the CONTROL KEY to turn most tools into Color Pickers: when you have a tool selected, press Ctrl and you'll see the tools cursor change!

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Spotty Looking Images

If you upload an image to your web page that you have just created in PSP and it has a spotty appearance, the problem could be that you are choosing the wrong options in the GIF Optimizer. Try changing the method of color selection to Optimized Median Cut, set the colors to about 100 and dithering to 0. If that doesn't work, try playing around with the settings until the image looks good in the preview pane.

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Unerase

When using the eraser tool to clean up an image, you may sometimes accidentally erase too much. Sometimes the mouse just jumps a little too much, and you erase a small portion that you wanted to keep...
You can UNERASE by using the right mouse button, if you are working with a promoted or transparent image. This really is a lifesaver when you're cleaning up images for tubes. Rather that undo, and start the whole process again, you can use the right mouse button to get just that small portion back.

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Quick background tile

  1. Make a new image, about 200X200. Fill it with any color you want.
  2. Go to Image > Noise > Add.. (In PSP4: Image > Special Filters > Noise). Choose Uniform, and play around with the amount. Then click OK.
  3. Choose Image > Blur > Gaussian blur (In PSP4: Image > Blur > Blur more).
Play around with the amounts, and then you'll get a simple, tileable background image.

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PSP keeps acting very strange

If you have tried seemingly everything, but PSP just will not act correctly such as;
  • Your toolbars got lost, and they'll not come back by using CTR-Alt-I.
  • You can't use any of your tubes.

Try resetting PSP by performing the following:

  1. Close down PSP, and relaunch it. 
  2. At the instant it launches, hold down CTRL+ALT (You may have to do this a number of times, because you only have a fraction of a second to grab the keys, and if your late or early PSP launches normally).
  3. There will be questions about program registries and file associations: say Yes or OK: it concerns the PSP registries, and they may be the cause of your trouble.
  4.  Let the program load, and just redo your preferences: tubes, plugins, brushes will all be OK now.

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Never work on the original graphics

Did you ever find yourself sobbing over the keyboard, because you ruined that beautiful image you created yesterday but which needed some touching up?
Make it a rule to NEVER work on the original graphics!! Open PSP, open your image, make a new copy of it by going to Window > Duplicate (or use shortcut Shift-D) and close the original. NOW you can start modifying.
But still: always SAVE OFTEN (preferably in the loss-less PSP-format) while you work. After you did something you like: save it. Did you really mess up: clear the image and open the last version saved, so you can go on from the moment everything was still OK.
Be sure you always work with 16 million colors: go to Colors > Increase color depth and when the option for 16 million colors is not greyed out, click it. Most of the effects and filters won't work if you are not in 16 million color mode!

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Many menu options are greyed out, why?

If you find your menu options greyed out, it is certain you do not have sufficient colors!
Go Menu > Colors > Increase > 16M colors, and you should be back in business!

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Making thumbnails in PSP

All you need to do to make thumbnails from all your images, is to resize them to something around 75 - 100 pixels!
Go to Image > Resize and in the dialog windows fill in the largest size you want your thumbnail to have, see to it that the 'maintain aspect ration' box is checked, and click OK.
I'd advise to save the new thumbnail (save AS) with the same name and extension as the original, but with an indication in the name to show it is a thumbnail. You could for instance give the thumbnail of 'flower.jpg' the name 'flower_th.jpg'.

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Adding simple watermark

To create a watermark, a text or image that overlays an existing image for copyright protection: 
  1. Add a new layer to an existing image.
  2. Add text or paste a copyright image into the layer. 
  3. Now right-click on the floating selection in the layers palette, and choose Defloat.
  4. In the layers palette, turn down the layer opacity slider until your watermark is only barely visible. 
  5. Now go layers > Merge > Merge all.

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Zoom tool for precision work

For precision painting the most valuable tool is the Zoom tool. 
  1. Click the magnifying glass in the Tool Palette
  2. Click in your image as often as you like. 

You'll see the individual pixels take shape, and you'll be able to change every pixel as you see fit. This works even better if you have a second window open with the same image.

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Turning paper art into graphics

Many people are still sketching their graphics the old fashion way, with a paper and pencil. If you own a scanner, you can easily turn your paper art into computer graphics:
  1. Scan your original artwork.
  2. Duplicate the picture in a new window, then save the original.  you'll be working on the duplicate.
  3. Add a new layer.
  4. Promote the original background to layer.
  5. Now you just need to follow the lines of the original with your cursor to draw (not copy) that on the new layer using line-size and color of your liking (I usually start with very thin and faint lines, after having adjusted opacity to the point where the original is just barely visible).
Once you're done you can delete the original layer and finish your very own computer graphic.

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Text on a curve or circle

  1. Create or open the image with the curve you want your text to follow.
  2. Create a new image, write your text in there in the color you want it to be.
  3. Deselect.
  4. Divide the curve or circle by the number of letter spaces you'll need.
  5. With the magic wand select the first letter, copy, and past in your image as selection at approximately the place you want it to be. Keep it selected!
  6. Now go to image > rotate, and play with the number of degrees until the result is satisfactory.
  7. The 'undo' function is essential here: just keep trying again, and dragging that letter, until it looks OK.
Now do the same with the other letters, keeping in mind the numbers of letters you'll want to fit in there, until you have your text following the line you wanted it to follow.

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Previewing an effect

Have you ever applied an effect (like 'buttonize' or one of the others where you get the windows with the 'before' and 'after' view) to a larger area and wished you could see the edge or the area where the effect appears? If you zoom out, you can't really see the details, but you may have seen your cursor change from an arrow to a hand...
Maintain the size of the preview at 100%, put the cursor over the preview window, left-click and drag: you'll see the image move in every direction you want it to move to!

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Removing the bands from a gradient fill

This so simple it's almost surprising. If you've ever done a gradient fill using black and white, odds are you've seen the bands of color. On my monitor they show up too well, but on darker screens they can hardly be seen at all. How you remove those bands, no matter the colors used, is easy. Effects - Noise - Add and throw on 3% uniform noise. It won't alter the image any, but if you've got any banding of colors it'll remove it entirely. Works just like magic!

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Creating a custom gradient 

In the Styles palette click on the small triangle on the right of the bottom box, to bring up the options of fill type. Choose Gradient. 

Click on the Edit button.

The resulting dialog box is the Gradient Editor. 
Click on New and name your gradient. 
In the gradient options click on the first little indicator below the color bar. Next click on the color selector box and set the color. Do the same to set the second color. You can add more colors by clicking in the area between the two indicators and setting the color in the same manner. 

The little diamond above the color bar is the blend indicator. It can be used by sliding the diamond itself back and forth across the line or by typing a value in the Location box. This determines how your colors blend into one another.

The next area is for setting the transparency of the gradient. If your gradient needs to be opaque (solid) then you don't need to worry about this box (as in the example shown). But if you want your gradient to have a level of opacity this is where you set it. 
First you need to select which indicator will have a level of opacity. Then set the opacity level by typing it into the Opacity Box or by clicking the little slider next to the number and setting it to the value you want. 

Then you can slide the indicators to find the result you desire. You can see the result in the Result box below. 

Now you have created a custom gradient. 
Click OK.

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Help Tips

  • Hold the cursor over a tool button to see the name of the tool. Look at the status bar for a description of what it does.
  • Place your cursor over a feature or button, then press the "F1" key. A Help file on that feature will pop up.

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Preference Tips

  • Customizing your Toolbar. If you have more than one user profile on your computer, each user can set his own PSP preferences without affecting the other user's settings.
  • Uncheck "Save Browser Files to disk" (Preferences/General Program Preferences/Browser tab) to save disk space. Browse files can be quite large. Also, if checked, every time you browse pictures on a CD, PSP will put a browse file in the main PSP directory. Delete them to regain disk space.
  • Undo tab. Make sure that "Enable Undo System" and "Enable Redo System" are checked.
  • Undo tab. Check "Update undo buffers for each brush stroke" or pressing the Undo button will make your image revert to your last save. Actually, it will undo everything you've done with the current tool.

    UPDATE: This tip only applies to versions of Paint Shop Pro 5 earlier than ver5.03. If you have version 5.03, this is the default setting and there's no need to change it.

  • Under Dialogs and Palettes, you can change the size and style of the tool icons. You can make them larger or make them look like the old-style Windows buttons.
  • Under the Miscellaneous tab, you can uncheck "Show splash screen when application starts".
  • Rulers and Units tab. You can set the ruler to display either inches or pixels.
  • Cursors and Tablets tab. Using the precise cursor makes it easier to line up image elements. Keep the standard cursor if you want to see at a glance which tool is currently selected.
  • Cursors and Tablets tab. Checking "Show brush shape outline...", lets you see the size of your paintbrush while painting.
  • Cursors and Tablets tab. If you have a drawing tablet, such as a Pen Partner, be sure to uncheck all pressure sensitivity options if you're working with Picture Tubes. They won't function properly with this turned on.
  • If you have a scanner, you can save yourself from having to go to File/Import/TWAIN/Acquire, by adding the Acquire Image button to your Toolbar.

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Tool Tips
  • An easy way to add a new color to your Custom Colors palette, is to right-click on the color swatch, drag the cursor over to one of the Custom Color boxes until it becomes a pitcher, then release the mouse button to fill the box.

  • To flood fill a text selection one letter at a time, set the Match Mode in the Control Palette to "RGB Value". To flood fill all the letters at once, set the Match Mode to "None".
  • To undock a toolbar or palette, double-click on a blank area of it. Double-clicking on an undocked toolbar's title bar will restore it to its last docked position.
  • Hold an undocked toolbar near an edge of the work area to dock it in a new position.
  • Pressing the Tab key will hide any undocked toolbars and palettes. Press Tab again to unhide.
  • Use shortcut keys to hide and unhide individual toolbars and palettes, whether docked or undocked (use lowercase letters):
    • Color Palette (C)
    • Toolbar (T)
    • Tool Palette (P)
    • Control Palette (O)
    • Layers Palette (L)
  • Double-clicking on the Deformation Tool, the Cropping Tool, or the Selection Tool, will bring up a dialog box where you can make precise adjustments.
  • Use the Arrow Tool to move a large or zoomed-in image around in its window.
  • Pressing the "Ctrl" key turns most tools into the Dropper Tool for quick color picking from your image.
  • To add to a selection, hold down the "Shift" key while dragging the cursor. To subtract from a selection, hold down the "Ctrl" key while dragging the cursor.
  • To draw a line, with the Line Tool, at fixed angles in 45 degree increments, press the Shift key while drawing the line.
  • Use the right mouse button to maintain the aspect ratio when resizing an image with the Deformation Tool.
  • To paint straight lines:
    1. Click with the Paintbrush Tool at the starting point of your line.
    2. Press the Shift key and keep holding it down while you click at the end point of your line.
    3. You can continue adding lines by holding Shift and clicking a new end point.

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Undo Tips
  • Does PSP seem to be slowing down as you work? You may want to free up some memory by going to Edit/Empty/clipboard and/or Undo Buffers. BE CAREFUL! If you empty the buffers, you won't be able to undo any changes you've made up to that point.
  • Go to Edit/Undo History to undo several changes at once. Better yet, add the Undo History button to your Toolbar.

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Saving Files Tips
  • When you save a new image file by going to File/Save As (F12 key), the default file format is ".psp". If you prefer to save your images in some other format, such as ".jpg", most of the time, use File/Save Copy As (Ctrl+F12 key). The default format will be the last format you used. Save Copy As is also useful for saving your work in stages.
  • If you see an asterisk to the right of your image's file name on its title bar, it means that you haven't saved your most recent changes.
  • Always remember to look under Options when saving a file. You may have several settings to choose from. Also, you may have changed an option, during your last session, which would not be appropriate for your current image.
  • If you save your image in ".psp" format, you can go to View/Image Information, then click the Creator Information tab. Type in any notes you'd like for future reference. Be sure to save the changes. This appears to add only about 1KB to the file size.
  • When you go to File/Save As..., the default file format is ".psp". To prevent having to scroll through the list of formats, simply type the first letter of the format you want (such as "j" for .jpg). If more than one file format begins with that letter, continue typing the first letter and it will cycle through all formats beginning with that letter. Note that the ".gif" format doesn't begin with a "g", it's actually a "c" for CompuServe Graphics Interchange.

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Viewing Tips
  • To see how your image looks full screen on a solid background, go to View/Full Screen Preview or click its button on the Toolbar. Click your mouse to return to normal view.
  • To maximize your work area, click the Edit Full Screen button to hide the title bar, menu bar and status bars. Click the button again for normal view. While in Full Screen Edit, the menus can be accessed by clicking near the top of the screen.
  • If you've zoomed your image in or out, you can quickly set it back to actual size by clicking the Normal Viewing button.
  • Sometimes it's easier to see how your selection has been affected by temporarily hiding the marquee. Either click the Hide Marquee button or go to Selections/Hide Marquee. Don't forget to unhide the selection before proceeding.
  • When you're zoomed in close to work on your picture, you can go to Window/New Window to open a second copy of your image at a different zoom level. Any changes you make affect both views. This is not a separate file, just another view of the current image.
  • When you have the Grid turned on, don't maximize your image or the grid lines won't line up correctly. Note: this problem has been fixed in the new Paint Shop Pro 6 (Due to be released in September 1999).
  • You can use the "+" and "-" keys, on the number key pad of your keyboard, to zoom in and out on your image.

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Text Tips
  • When using an italic-type script font, you may need to put a space before the first character in each line so that the left side isn't cut off.
  • When you add text to your image, you're not limited to the sizes listed. For a custom font size, simply type in the size you want.
  • Use the Shift and arrow keys to nudge floating text into position.
  • OUTLINING TEXT. Insert some non-floating text into your image. Go to Selections/Save to Alpha Channel. Click OK twice. Now go to Selections/Modify/Expand. Expand by the number of pixels wide you'd like for your outline. Flood Fill the text with your outline color. Next go to Selections/Load from Alpha Channel. Click OK. Flood Fill the inner part of your text with your desired color.

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Layers Tips
  • Press the Shift key while clicking the New Layer button to create a new layer without opening the dialog box.
  • To paste one image into another and have it centered, paste it as a New Layer (Edit/Paste/As a new layer). PSP will automatically place it in the center of your image.
  • Image thumbnails can be dragged from the Browser onto another image as a new layer.
  • You can also drag a layer from one picture into another picture. If the picture you're adding to has multiple layers, either activate the layer just below where you want to add the new layer, or just re-arrange the layers afterwards. With the Layers Palette open, make the picture you're copying from the active image. Click the cursor on its layer button in the palette, then drag the button onto the picture you're copying to.
  • To quickly select multiple objects on an active layer, Select All, then left-click any object on the layer using any Selection Tool. The marquee will shrink to surround the objects.
  • To select just one of multiple items on an active layer, roughly go around it with the Freehand Tool, then click on the object to shrink the marquee. You can now use the Mover Tool to move that object around independantly from the other objects on that layer.
  • MUTED BACKGROUND IMAGE. Create a new layer above the background and Flood Fill it with white or a pale color. Adjust the opacity slider until the background image shows through as desired.

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Transparent GIF's
  1. Menu> File> Export> GIF Export

  2. Select the Eyedropper Tool from the Toolbar and right click on what-ever color in the image you want to make transparent ( normally the background color ) If you have multiple colors on the background, choose the color that is most used for the background color.

  3. Go to the Colors Menu> Set Palette Transparency. 

  4. Choose the Set the transparency value to the current background color.

  5. Use the Proof button to see the how the transparency is going to look, or you can can go to Colors> View Palette Transparency > Transparent view. 

  6. What ever is going to be transparent will be displayed by a checker board. If you are satisfied with the results, click OK to close the Palette Transparency options.

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Transparent Grid Lines
  1. Open a new image 10x10 with a transparent background. 

  2. Choose View> Zoom in by 5. 

  3. Make sure you have rulers on ( View > Rulers). 

  4. Select the Draw tool and in the Tool Options palette choose Point to Point, width set to 2, Antialias checked, Create as Vector and Close Path unchecked. 

  5. Set foreground color to black and turn off background color. 

  6. On your image do a point to point line both horizontal and vertical at the midway point on your image ( 5 on the ruler ) from one edge of your image to the other. 

  7. What you will end up with is the plus ( + ) sign. DO NOT MERGE AND FLATTEN!

  8. Save as a PSP image for later use but don't close the image. 

  9. Open up a new image that you want to put a transparent grid on, add a new layer and flood fill with your grid pattern (this will be a pattern fill selected from patterns in the styles palette ). 

This will give you a transparent grid over your image. You can also change the grid size by changing scale in the pattern palette making the grid either larger or smaller. You can even change the color of your grid by selecting the solid line on the grid [may want to zoom up for this] with the magic wand and then flood fill with the color of your choice.

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Soft Edges Effect

Go to Selections > Modify > Feather, and set your feather values. The bigger the number the softer the edge. Once you are complete, press Ctrl+Shift+I (Invert Selection) Press delete, about three or four times. The more you press delete, the more of the image gets erased or "softened".

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Create as Vector/Selection/Floating
There are three ways that you can add your text to the image:

Vector creates the text as a Vector layer. This means that you can stretch and resize the layer as often as you like without losing quality. It also means you can later click on the layer with the Text tool selected, and re-edit the text (changing the words, font, size etc). Usually you'll want to select Vector.

Selection creates the text in the form of a selection marquee. You can then fill this selection, use it to cut something out, etc. Note that the actual text is not placed on the image; only a selection is created.

Floating creates the text as a floating selection. This places the actual text as a raster (non-vector) graphic on your image, but it "floats" above your image, a bit like a layer, so you can move it around. If you want, you can choose Selections > Promote to Layer (Shift+Ctrl+P) to turn this floating graphic into a proper layer.

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PSP 8 New Tools

Along with the changes to the interface, there are many other changes that have enhanced Paint Shop Pro 8. There is a Learning Center Window that you can use to get up and going with Paint Shop Pro 8 or use it to refresh your memory about the program.

Some of the new tools are:

Background Eraser Brush:
This new tool is really great for taking out sections of an image by replacing a selected area with transparency. Selecting a colored area is a simple as left clicking while dragging your mouse to remove color.

Warp Brush:
The Warp Brush is a super fun tool that allows to you quickly and easily distort portions of an image with brush strokes.

Straighten Tool:
Have you ever scanned a photo and no matter how many times you scan it, it just comes out crooked. Well the new straighten tool will take that image and straighten it out. It's very simple to use and you achieve terrific results with it.

Enhanced Deform Tool:
This new tool allows you to change an image by scale, shear, distort, rotate, and perspective.

Enhanced Retouch Tools:
The retouch brushes that were part of the Retouch tool in previous versions of Paint Shop Pro are now separate brushes in the tool palette.

Enhanced Crop Tool:
You can now choose from preset sizes for cropping images and you can also crop an image by aspect ratio.

Layer Groups:
You can apply effects to all layer within a group without effecting other layers below the group.

Mask Layers:
Masks are now separate layers instead of attributes of other layers.

Tablet Options:
You can vary the color, density, opacity, rotation, size and thickness of brush strokes based on pressure, tilt, altitude and more.

Enhanced Selections:
There is a new Edge Seeker mode that improves making a selection when running along an edge.

There are new effects and filters also! They include:

Black and White Points Feature:
You can set the tonal range of photographs and bring out image detail without losing information.

Lens Distortion Correction:
You can correct images that have that pincushion, barrel, or fisheye distorted look.

Balls and Bubbles:
Check this out! It takes just seconds to create balls and bubbles in which you can set transparency, light, shine, etc.

Halftone:
Create halftones with your images

Soft Focus:
Create glamour shots with this effect.

Magnifying Lens:
Create a magnify effect with much effort.

Lens Distortion:
Create fisheye, barrel or pincushion effects

Offset:
Create more precise seamless patterns

Seamless Tiling:
Although we were able to create easy seamless tiles in previous versions of Paint Shop Pro, the new tool works much better and has more options.

Other features include Enhanced Print Layout, more file types (JPEG 2000, PDF, WBMP), EXIF photo information, WIA Support along with more new presets, scripting, enhanced batch processing and new file extensions that make them easier to recognize. And there's more, but what you really need to do is download the demo and try it out for yourself.

Check out the Jasc web site for much more information on Paint Shop Pro 8.

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