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Jasc Software's Paint Shop Pro is an image creation, viewing and manipulation program. With Version 5.0, Jasc took its product from shareware to retail. Shareware products are only available from the Web, not from stores. You can still get Jasc's offer to try-before-you-buy version from their Web site, though. Paint Shop Pro is designed for home users who want to retouch and edit photos (turn your photos into button images and your animals into cartoon figures) that can then be used in cards, calendars, or even sent electronically to friends; business users who need to create images for fliers, brochures, and newsletters; Web designers who want to create images that will make their Web site stand out; and digital photographers who have need of a professional package that provides photography and retouching tools to manipulate exposure levels, retouch, enhance, contrast, crop, or resize any image. The program can also be used to build digital photo archives. Version 5.01 is an upgrade with some additional features and enhancements from 5.0, but the major changes were from from Version 4 to 5. The price is $99.00. Upgrades are $39.00. Jasc Web site is:
Serious beginners, intermediate, and advanced PC users. For beginners, it provides you with all the painting and image-editing features you need, yet it is easy to use, intuitive, and fun. For help learning the program, you can use any number of options: the User's Guide that comes with the package is very complete and includes tutorials. Jasc Software has additional tutorials on their Web site. This is a very popular program that has a wide variety of users who want to share their information, so for those of you who really want to delve into Paint Shop Pro, there are many, many third-party tutorial sites on the Web that explain, step-by-step how to use the program. These tutorials range from teaching you how to use the basic features of the program to more advanced techniques of creating and using masks. You can read them on-line and/or print them for later use. I used a tutorial from the Web for the gold section headings. Some parties even let you download the images they have used in their tutorials to make it easier to follow the tutorials. Jasc Software conveniently provides links to these third-party sites for you. The numerous users groups are also helpful for solving problems. Intermediate and advanced PC users will welcome the new features such as the layers palette and digital camera support that make this program a very professional package at a fraction of the price of other similar programs. You can create a true layered graphical image.

As I mentioned above, the major changes in Paint Shop Pro were made from Version 4 to 5. I will briefly describe the updates from 5.0 to 5.01 in this section, though; and then I will fully discuss the more significant changes made in Version 5.0 in a separate section below.

New Features

  • A brush size control for pressure-sensitive tablets--as more users are electing to create their work with pressure-sensitive tablets, which are much easier to use for painting, you will see more enhancements of features for them;
  • A redo command to reapply edits after using the undo command--this is probably the most important added feature as Paint Shop Pro 5.0 had multiple undos and an undo history but no redo feature;
  • Automatic image scrolling while making Point-to-Point and Smart Edge selections-- I found this feature to be very useful. For a variety of my images for this review, I started with a large photo of a full figure and used the Smart Edge selection tool to select the figure to copy to a new image. To work with a clear picture of the figure, I magnified it, thus getting only part of it on the screen, but as I worked with the Smart Edge tool and went beyond the screen view, the image automatically scrolled down so I could work on the rest of the figure. The city skyscrape image was created using the Smart Edge selection tool to cut out the image of the woman and the dog and place them in the new city image.


  • Optimized undo operations that save only the portions of an image that has changed, thus minimizing disk space used and increasing the speed of undo;
  • The selected color in the edit palette dialog box is always the foreground color;
  • TIFF file format LZW compression produces smaller files while retaining image quality.


Changes and corrections were made to: Paint Shop Pro Browser; resize and bicubic resample methods; drop shadow effect; text tool, sharpen filter, resizing program window, undo tool, and pasting a graphic as a new selection feature.


Below is a description of some of the new features in Paint Shop Pro that change it from a good program to a great program.

Multiple Layer Support
--makes it easy to create and edit composite images by allowing users to experiment and control image variations without affecting the entire image. Layers are like sheets of tracing paper. You can have part of your image on one layer and another part on another layer. You can add, copy, or delete them at any time; apply effects, deformations, and filters to layers; make individual layers visible or invisible; merge visible layers only; rearrange their order; change their opacity; and blend their pixels in a variety of ways. Until merged they are independent and can be edited or deleted without affecting the other layers.You can create collages and montages, create easily editable Web buttons, and apply different textures to images with ease. Being familiar with Photoshop and layers, I tend to put everything on individual layers so if I create a mess, I can just delete a layer and start over.

Layers have a functional as well as an artistic use. For the metallic plate image, I followed a step-by-step tutorial in Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours, by T. Michael Clark, and used layers in a functional manner. Different layers were used for the background plate, the indents, the screws, the slots, and the beveled text. By putting individual elements on separate layers and copying them using the merge visible layers only command, I saved time. After creating the metallic plate on one layer, a circular indent was drawn on another layer and placed on the left. This indent layer was then copied onto a new layer so an indent was also placed on the right. Then these two layers were merged and this merged layer of two top indents was copied to another new layer so indents were placed on the bottom. Then these two plates of top and bottom indents were merged into one layer. Then the same procedure was repeated to produce the screws and then the slots on top. It was not really difficult and took less time because of the use of layers.

The layer blend modes are great for creating artistic and unique images. You are combining the pixels from the current layer with the ones under it; but you are not combining the layers permanently until you use the merge command so you can play and play until you create that masterpiece. There are 17 blend modes to work with. Frequently I used two copies of the same photo; placed the photos on two different layers; applied different effects to each layer; and then changed the opacity and blend mode. Most of the images used for this review were created using layers and changing the opacity and blend mode.

Free-form Deformation Tool--with just one tool you can quickly move (transform), scale, rotate, skew and add perspective to layers, selections or an image, thus saving time spent on individual deformation operations. Paint Shop Pro has three ways to deform images: (1) with the free-form deformation tool; (2) with the deformation browser which has preset deformation values; and (3) with the deformation dialog boxes which let you make your own choices. For the image to the left, I scanned in four photos; put each image on a separate layer; used the deformation tool on some of the layers; and then used the deformation dialog boxes for the others. I then applied a linear gradient fill with the flood fill tool to the background. To give it a finished look, I applied an edge from a third-party plug-in. I also used the deformation tool to create the text in the Doggie Picture Tube image below.

Multiple Level Undo--a viewable history window, makes it possible for users to easily return to any editing step. A wide variety of preference options allows users to tailor the undo support to their specific system resources. Once you start using the history window, you can't see how you did without it. I tend to apply effect after effect and really play with an image. If I decide I don't like the last 20 moves or so, instead of deleting each one individually, I just go to the history window and delete all unwanted moves with just one click.

Support of 44 Unique Graphic File Types--this new or enhanced support includes PSD, KDC, FPX, PCD, IFF, SCT, EMF and PSP file formats as well as Adobe file format plug-ins. Since I use Photoshop frequently and have saved important actions in the program that I wanted to use on some of the images created in Paint Shop Pro for this review, I decided to test if you could bring a Paint Shop Pro image into Photoshop and continue working on it. No problems arose when I did this. I could take an image created in either program and then bring it into the other program and still work on it. Various Adobe filters and plug-ins, such as Photo/Graphic Edges from Auto F/X and PhotoFrames from Extensis, that were installed for Photoshop, became available in Paint Shop Pro when I went into the Preferences in Paint Shop Pro and indicated where they were located.

TWAIN Device Support--support all compatible and imaging devices. Direct interface support for the popular Kodak DC 40, DC 50 and DC120 cameras has also been added.

Pressure-sensitive Tablet--users can now create and edit images with variable brush opacity, width, and color controls using a pressure-sensitive tablet and a digitizing pen or other input device.

Retouching Brushes--now includes many of the effects as the adjust color commands, such as dodge, burn, saturation, hue, lightness, and HSL-to-target modes, allowing the natural correction of image exposure and color levels in any part of an image.The retouch tool is perfect when you want to paint with the effect rather than apply it to the entire image or selection. Teach Youself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours has a great tutorial on using the retouch brush to remove braces from teeth.

Brush Tip Palette--features complete brush settings, giving users full command over their brush size, shape, opacity, density, hardness and step size. The brush tip palette is very handy.

Custom Brush--allows users to create custom Photoshop-compatible brush tips or shapes. A database of custom brushes can be created to store the brushes for easy retrieval and use. I loved this feature. I scanned in two rocks from the Berlin Wall (the real McCoy, gotten on a trip to Germany) and made a custom brush from the scanned rocks. This custom brush was used for the background of this image and for the water, dog, figure graphic below in the Arithmetic Function section.

Selection Tools--includes Freehand, Point-to-Point and Smart Edge options, so it is easy to make accurate selection areas the first time, without detailed editing. For the curled page image, I followed a step-by-step tutorial from Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5.0 in 24 Hours. I used the freehand tool and set the selection type to point-to-point to create the curl. The line tool was used with the Bezier type utilized for the curve.

Crop Tool--allows for more precise control of the cropping procedure. This tool is great. When you want to crop an image, you simply select the crop tool and click-and-drag to outline the area you want to crop. You can then resize the cropping area by clicking-and-dragging the edges of the area, or you can move the cropping area by dragging the cropped area. Then you just double-click and the job is done. Cropping size options may also be set from a dialog box, further enhancing the entire process.

File Browser--features a familiar Explorer-style view, letting users easily navigate through directories of files to visually search for their images. I wish every program had this feature. The browser is a tree-based browser similar to the Windows Explorer. It is a visual file system that makes image file management easier and more intuitive. When you select a folder in the browser, Paint Shop Pro displays thumbnails of the images within the folder. You can open, move, rename, and delete files using these thumbnails.You can even add layers to an image. Even if I am going to work in another program such as Photoshop, I will still use Paint Shop Pro and the browser to organize and view my images. It is much easier to use when you are moving and deleting files as you are working on the visual image and not just a file name. This prevents moving or deleting the wrong files because you are confused about the file names.

Picture Tubes--allows for a sequence of pre-made images to be inserted as the user clicks and/or drags the mouse across the image, letting users easily apply and reapply clipart or other graphic objects to their images. Tubes are in! Many Web sites have sprung up just to offer picture tubes to Paint Shop Pro users and Jasc Software constantly has free Picture Tubes to download. (See the Recommended Demos Section on our site for the link.) Picture Tubes are really just a form of the paint brush tool; it is like a rubber stamp in that it allows you to reproduce the same image, or set of images, again and again. You can use tubes to create seamless backgrounds or backgrounds for logos. Tubes are built from images arranged in a grid. A tube can consist of one object in a variety of colors and/or effects, or a variety of related objects. The image on the right is a screen shot of some of the tube files that come with Paint Shop Pro and shows how they are arranged in cells.

The Picture Tube options palette lets you control how the objects appear.

  • The placement mode determines whether the objects in the tube image appear at random or at fixed intervals as you are painting.
  • The step size controls the distance between the intervals at which the tubes appear, as you decrease the step size, the distance between images decreases.
  • The selection mode controls how images are selected from among the other objects in the tube: the random mode randomly selects images in the tube; the incremental mode selects the first image in the tube and repeats it only after it has selected all the images; the angular mode selects images based on the direction you drag the cursor as you paint; the pressure mode uses pressure from a pressure sensitive pad to determine which image to select; and the velocity mode selects images based on the speed you drag the cursor as you paint.

You can make your own Picture Tubes by creating a grid of cells on a transparent background and then filling each cell with an image. You then export the file as a Picture Tube and it is added to the list of tubes on the control palette. For the dog image, I started with the original dog photo that was used to make the glowing blue dog above, cut out the dog, filed him with different linear fills and created a cartoon dog. I then used the cartoon dog to create a tube. I opened a new file, filled the background layer using the dog picture tube, placed the text on another layer, used the extortion tool to give depth to the text, and then applied a frame. For the foot image, I used the black foot tube that came with Paint Shop Pro, changed the opacity and blend modes and produce an interesting glowing feet effect.

CMYK color separations--printing and output of CMYK color separations is now supported. Paint Shop Pro 5 can separate images into the four CMYK channels for individual channel editing and save images as CMYK TIF files.

Color Management System--fully integrated support for Microsoft's ICM 2.0 color management system in Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0 allows for consistent color previewing across different imaging devices.

Import and Export Plug-ins--can use industry-standard Adobe import and export plug-ins to connect custom devices, such as specialized printers, cameras, and scanners, to Paint Shop Pro 5.


Arithmetic Function--This is feature that truly creates unique images. I used the image arithmetic function to combine data from two images; I used the figure, water, and dog photo (my own) and a photo of a building from the Paint Shop Pro CD to create a third image that is a product of the source image's color data. Different formulas will result in different effects. You can combine images using the following options: add, subtract, multiply, difference, lightest, darkest, average, or, and. An interesting image can be created by combining the arithmetic function and effects and then changing the opacity and blend mode.

Painting with Texture--you can paint with a texture such as: sidewalk, marble, parchment, fruit peel, construction paper, ocean, lava, mist, and fog. I used the fruit peel texture for the dog and figure image background. The figure was cut from another picture using the Smart Edge selection tool. I used multiple layers and changed the opacity and blend mode to achieve the effect.

Filters--they can enhance any image. You can select filters by choosing them from the filter browser or from the image menu. The filter browser is a convenient way to preview filters. When you select a filter from the filter name list the sample preview displays its effect on the image.

Edge Filters-- I used the edge filters on a variety of the images for this review. They work will when combined with Paint Shop Pro effects, the arithmetic function, and variations in opacity and blend modes to create a variety of effects.

    • Enhance--enhances the edits in the image;
    • Enhance More--applies a stronger enhancement of the edges in the image;
      Find All--enhances the contrasts between light and dark in the image by darkening the image and then highlighting the edges;
    • Find Horizontal--enhances the horizontal edges in the image using the method of the Find All filter;
    • Find Vertical--enhances the vertical edges in the image using the method of the Find All filter;
    • Trace Contour--Lightens the entire image but turns contours black.

Blur Filters--these filters smooth transitions by averaging the pixels next to hard edges of defined lines and shaded areas where there are significant color transitions. Paint Shop Pro includes the following blur filters: Gaussian blur, blur, blur more, soften, soften more, and motion blur.

Effects--the buttonize, chisel, cutout effect, and drop shadow effects are nifty.

  • Buttonize--You can add interest to your Web page by creating square or rectangular buttons from any image or selection. You can create a button with shadows or bevels, raised or sunken with just a few mouse clicks. I created the head button using the buttonize effect; and then I used this button in other images. For the image to the left, I put the button graphic on one layer and rock graphic on the other, then played with the opacity of the layers, and used the dissolve mode to create the sparkle effect.
  • Chisel effect--this effect adds a three-dimensional border around a selection or layer to make it appear as though it were cut of of stone.
  • Cutout effect--this effect creates the illusion that part of the image has been removed, allowing you to see through the image to a lower level.
  • Drop Shadow--this is an easy way to add drop shadow to text to create interesting effects.

Color Adjustment Commands--There are three commands that I used extensively, alone and in conjunction with the edge filter effects. You can create popart or cartoon figures of your friends with these color adjustment commands. The face image to the right is an example.

  • Colorize Command--converts an image or selection to a uniform hue and saturation while retaining its lightness. You can use it to create sepia tones and other single-color effects;

  • Posterize Command--reduces the number of bits per color channel, thus you get a flatter-looking image with a pronounced choppiness in the gradients;

  • Solarize Command--replaces the color value of each color with its opposite on the 0-255 scale.

Plug-ins--There are many third-party plug-ins that work with Paint Shop Pro. I mentioned Photo/Graphic Edges from Auto F/X and PhotoFrames from Extensis above. Once you use filters, you are addicted, especially to frames. With PhotoFrame, you can put unique frames around your photos. But Photo/Graphic Edges not only allows you to apply frames, but it also has great special effects that can turn photos into one-of-a-kind images. Both of these programs were used to frame the images in this review. Alien Skin Software is now including a copy of Paint Shop Pro 4.14 with its Eye Candy program, another plug-in. You can then purchase the upgraded version of Paint Shop Pro for a reduced price.

Image Capture--takes a "snapshot" of your entire screen, client area, a window, an object or any area that you select. You can screen capture with a right mouse click, or with a hot key combination. You can then edit the screen shot right in Paint Shop Pro.

Inclusion of Animation Shop which is a GIF Animation program. Very easy to use. You can create excellent animated GIF's with special text and image effects such as fades, blurs, wipes, and spirals. You can use the program to create banners.
Paint Shop Pro 5.01 is an image editor that offers a powerful suite of image-editing tools at a fraction of the price of some other programs. Its image editing tools really cover a wide range of picture adjustments and corrections. It is easy to use, the interface is clean and very intuitive, yet it is highly customizable, with extensive control over such elements as color. The compositing tools are also powerful. With the addition of the layers palette, including blend modes and transparency levels in Version 5.01, it is impressive. Making custom Picture Tubes out of photos of your friends' animals and creating images like the cartoon dog will delight them. Click on the blue/green dog to view a variety of dogs and what you can make with picture tubes and filling an area with a gradient. Before investing on one of the more expensive image-editing programs, you might want to try Paint Shop Pro 5.01. It just might have all the tools you need at a better price.
Tangent control handles with Bezier curve tool;
Snap to guides;
More text tool options.
Processor: 486 or higher (Pentium recommended)
Operating System: Windows 95 or Windows NT Workstation 4.0 or later
Memory: 12 MB (32 MB recommended)
Hard Disk Space: 10 MB (40 MB recommended)
256 color display adapter (24-bit recommended)
Pressure-sensitive tablet recommended

Photographs: Thanks to Joan and Stan for supplying photos of themselves and their animals.
DeMorgan WebSpice 1,000,000 Page Design Edition
Frames: Auto F/X Photo/Graphic Edges 4.0 & Extensis PhotoFrame 1.0
Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series
Book: Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page