Powerful effects and editing tools. Face recognition. Geo-tagging with maps. Good assortment of vector drawing tools. Cons Some operations still slow. Interface can get cluttered. Ineffective chromatic aberration removal. Bottom Line Corel continues to build on its low-cost Photoshop competitor, adding some fun new tools and improving the speed of some operations.
Corel's photo software competitor, PaintShop Pro, does nearly everything you need, without the overhead of subscription payments. It edits both raster and vector image formats—something you'd need two of Adobe's Creative Cloud apps to do. You do miss out on the Adobe's flagship photo editor's most advanced tools, though, including 3D modeling, detailed typography, Camera Shake Reduction, and Face Liquefy.
Performance in some photo editing operations lags a bit behind the industry standard, too. PaintShop's interface has improved over the years, but it's not as polished as Adobe's application.
If you're not committed to the Adobe ecosystem and don't mind that it's Windows-only, PaintShop Pro is a worthy alternative, especially given its low cost. The one-time pricing model may be a good fit for those who resent Adobe's subscription-only model for Photoshop , Lightroom, and Illustrator. You first install a small downloader program that completes the installation. You have to choose whether you want bit, bit, or both—the last means you'll be compatible with both bit and bit plug-ins.
After this step, I had to install an update immediately. Most of the program is adapted just fine to 4K monitors, but I still found some dialogs, such as the Effect Browser, that use tiny icons. What's New in PaintShop Pro For those who are already familiar with PaintShop, below is a cheat sheet of what's new for the version.
Pic-to-Painting Presets. Though the shine of degree photography is fading a bit, PaintShop lets you rotate, level, and remove the tripod from the image. It also offers the fun tiny planet effect, more often associated with video editing.
Improved Crop Toolbar. This now includes a Save as New Image option, as well as letting you apply presets, one-step photo fixes, and depth of field effects.
Stylus and Tablet Support. Performance Improvements. This is the biggest one for me: PaintShop was notoriously much slower than competitors in previous versions. Customizable UI. You can change the fonts and size of interface components. The edition of PaintShop adds 10 new predefined color schemes, 10 new brush tips, and 10 new gradient patterns.
Interface The first time you run PaintShop, it gives you a walkthrough of the basic interface features. The updated Welcome screen lets you switch between Essentials and Complete workspaces the former is much easier on the eyes. From here you can also start with project templates, tutorials, recent files, or your user image gallery. A new touch is a row of buttons along the bottom linking to help and new features like Pic-to-Painting.
You can always get back to the Welcome screen from any other mode by tapping the big home icon. One thing I didn't see, which Photoshop has, is a Clipboard choice that sizes your new project to an image you've copied.
A first-run wizard helps familiarize you with the workspaces. The New From Template tab, like Photoshop's, offers several document types, including calendars, collages, cards, business reports, and social media. Most of these are in-app purchases—in both programs—though you can create your own custom templates. The interface is customizable when it comes to color and the size of elements such as icons and scroll bars. These options get their own main menu option: User Interface.
The main window's side panels can also be undocked or dismissed. The Essentials workspace is better suited to touch input, like that supported by my test machine, but it's not quite as finely tuned as it is in Photoshop, which supports gestures like two-finger twisting to rotate. When editing a photo, a slider lets you zoom in or out to any magnification you choose, unlike Lightroom, which restricts you to set ratios like 1: There is a 1: In the Complete workspace, there are just two modes: Manage and Edit.
Corel dropped Adjust, since that term isn't widely understood by photo hobbyists. Unlike Adobe Photoshop Elements , which has a separate Organizer app, you do everything in PaintShop in the same window, but you switch modes for different functions.
Within Manage you have subviews, like Maps and People Finder, and the first time you change modes, you get another tour. The program includes sample images, so you're not starting from zero.
Additionally, the Edit mode still includes the right-panel Learning Center, which helps with many image-editing procedures. Manage As its name suggests, this is where you organize your photo collection. Like Photoshop, PaintShop is not a photo workflow application, even though it includes tools for organizing and outputting. It's especially evident when importing photos, because you don't get to preview or tag images on import.
PaintShop lacks big Import button you find in workflow apps such as Adobe Lightroom. You can now import content from previous versions of PaintShop, including not only photos, but also brushes, gradients, and Picture Tubes—as long as it's stored in the standard folders.
After importing images, you can add star ratings, as well as tags for keywords, people, and places. You can also create collections, including Smart Collections of photos that meet specified criteria, such as date, name, or tags. Smart Collections let you specify criteria, such as text in the file name or image size to automatically create a Collection. On the left panel is source navigation, with folders and collections.
In the center is your main content view—thumbnails, full image, or a map showing photo locations based on GPS data. You can double tap a thumb for a quick full-screen preview with options for rating, rotating, deleting, or launching the image in the editor.
You can also save in Adobe PSD format, along with dozens of other standard image formats. Essentials Workspace The new Essentials Workspace addresses one of my major beefs about PaintShop—its cluttered interface. Not only is it drastically simplified while maintaining tools frequently needed, but you can also add or remove tools to suit your needs.
There are still quite a number of menu choices along the top—14 of them, compared with Photoshop's 11 and Photoshop Elements' Photoshop even lets you create custom workspaces and offers six options by default to PaintShop's two. Elements has Quick, Guided, and Expert modes, which can be thought of as workspaces.
The latter doesn't affect the geometry of the photo. Instead, you can manipulate just the lighting and color effects, as though it were a warped 2D photo. Doing so keeps it in format with your lighting corrections, so you can still upload it to Facebook or other viewers. Corel helpfully includes a few sample files for experimentation. Opening an image in degree mode presents a separate editing window and an explanatory dialog showing what you can do with the file type. There are really just four editing options: Straighten, Remove Tripod, to-Panorama, and Planet effects.
The last two convert the image from to a standard format like JPG after applying the effect. The most useful tool is Straighten, which worked well in my testing. This option removes the unnatural curves of your degree photo and lets you pick a viewing angle for the resulting image. You can pan around with the mouse or use slider controls for Pan, Tilt, Field of View zoom , and Rotate.
Then you save your work as a standard 2D photo in the format of your choice. Remove Tripod switches your view to facing down, where a tripod normally would appear. You select the tripod with a circle, a free selection tool, or a square, and then apply Magic Fill to match the surrounding terrain.
The Panorama option is mostly just a crop tool—it didn't convert the image to a natural looking panorama as the Straighten tool does. The Planet effects include Tiny planet and its opposite, Rabbit Hole. The tool worked just fine on the sample images. One minor annoyance with the editing window is that hitting Cancel after one operation takes you out of the editor. I often wanted to switch from, say, Straighten to Panorama, but I had to start over instead.
New Crop Tool The most commonly used photo editing tool by far is the crop tool. It may seem that there's nothing to it, but Adobe supercharged Photoshop's crop tool, even adding AI-powered auto-suggested cropping now also found in Photoshop Elements. Corel continues to give attention to its own crop tool, too.
It gives you a better idea of your final result by darkening the rest of the image. It offers overlays for composition guides, including golden spiral, golden ratio, and rule of thirds. When you rotate with the tool, the crop box stays put while the image rotates, so you can see the result without tilting your head. These overlays are more than Elements offers it lacks golden spiral, for example , and that program rotates the crop box instead of the image.
But Elements adds some cool "cookie cutter" crops like hearts and animal shapes, and Adobe's editors feel more responsive and precisely controllable than Corel's, probably thanks to graphics hardware acceleration.
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