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PSP X2 Tips & Tricks
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dot 201 Crop Tool Units Showing Only Inches and Centimeters
Did you ever go to crop an image, and you want to set the Width and Height of the Crop rectangle in pixels, but there's no Pixels in the Units droplist? That's because "Specify print size" is checked the Crop tool Tool Options palette. UNcheck "Specify print size" and Pixels will show up in the Units droplist.

dot 202 Making Picture Frames in PSP
There is no explanation in the PSP online documentation, or in the small User guide provided with PSP X2, for making your own picture frames. But it can be done, quite simply. Here's a short description of what you need to do:

  1. Create a large, transparent image. This image should be at least as large as any frame you will ever need to make. If you take a look at the frames provided with PSP X2, you will see landscape frames with widths as large as 2900 px and heights in the 1500 - 2000 px range. So make your frame as large as you need it to be.

  2. There are many ways to make the frame itself. You can use the Selection tool in the shape you want your frame, fill with the desired material, contract the selection the number of pixels you want in the width of the frame and delete. Or you can use the Preset Shape tool, choosing the shape you want from the Shape list. Set the Width to a large number, and select the Material you want for the frame in the Foreground Materials box, with the Background Material set to Transparent (Null). If you use the Preset Shape tool, either UNcheck "Create as vector", or convert the resulting shape layer to raster.

  3. Use the PSP Inner Bevel effect, or Eye Candy Bevel Boss, or any other bevelling software to apply a bevel to your frame. Play with the settings to give your frame the look you want. Add any other touches you want to your frame before continuing. Merge all visible layers (Layers...Merge...Merge Visible) when you are done.

  4. If your frame does not fill the entire image, crop the image by choosing the Crop tool, and clicking "Snap crop rectangle to: Layer Opaque" on the Crop tool Tool Options palette:

    snap crop rectangle to Layer Opaque

  5. If your frame is non-rectangular, create an alpha channel selection that defines the transparent areas outside the frame:

    • Use the Magic Wand (with Mode = Add, Match Mode = Color, Anti-alias CHECKed, Contiguous CHECKed) to select all the areas around the outside of the frame:

      selected area around frame

    • Invert the selection (CTRL + SHIFT + I) so the selection is around the outside of the frame:

      selected outer edge of frame

    • Choose Selections...Load/Save Selection...Save Selection to Alpha Channel. Click the Save button in the Save Selection To Alpha dialog, and then deselect (Selections...Select None, or CTRL + D).

  6. Now it's time to save the frame - there are two ways to do this:

    • Choose File...Save As, saving the image to the Picture Frames folder. For the "Save as type", use "PSPIMAGE Paint Shop Pro Image...". Type in the name you want for the frame, and follow that name by .PspFrame. For example, if you want to call your frame Heart, type "Heart.PspFrame" in the File name box (without the quotes). If you do not use the .PspFrame extension, you will not be able to see the frame in the Image...Picture Frame dialog.

    • A much easier method uses the built-in Frame exporter of PSP. Choose File...Export...Picture Frame. In the Export Picture Frame dialog, give your frame a name (with NO extension - PSP will add that for you) and click the Save button.

That's all there is to it. Now, when you choose Image...Picture Frame, your new frame will show up in the Picture Frame droplist. For non-rectangular frames, you can choose to fill the transparent areas outside the frame with a color, or leave those areas transparent.

Note: If you find filling the transparency with a color leaves unclean edges around your non-rectangular frames, OR you want to fill the area around the frame with a material other than a color, make sure the "Keep transparency" option is CHECKed when you add the picture frame to your image. Use the Magic Wand (with Mode = Add, Match Mode = Color, Anti-alias CHECKed, Contiguous CHECKed) to select the transparent areas around the frame. Expand the selection by about 3 pixels, and fill with the material of your choice.

dot 203 Support for Early Versions of PSP
Need support/patches for an old version of PSP? Check out this link:

dot 204 Using DeskPins to View Tutorials in PSP
In PSP X, we lost the ability to install tutorials as "Quick Guides" in the Learning Center. This facility made it extremely handy to view tutorials in the PSP workspace while at the same time performing the actions called for in that tutorial. Quick Guides prevented us from having to flip back and forth between the tutorial screen and the PSP workspace. When support for this facility was dropped in PSP X, many PSP users were much saddened.

Some time ago, I found something that "simulates" the old PSP Quick Guides - it's called DeskPins. This small piece of software sits in your system notification area (a.k.a. taskbar tray), and can be used to make any application topmost - that is, keep it above all other windows. Just grab a pin by clicking on the DeskPins icon in the taskbar tray - your cursor will turn into a floating "pushpin". Click anywhere in the tutorial window - its title bar will look like this, and that window will now remain on top:

DeskPins active

Resize the window so it won't totally obstruct your PSP workspace, then return to PSP and VOILA!, you can read your tutorial and remain in PSP at the same time! I love this program! It's really small, and it's always there in your taskbar, so when you find something you want to keep "on top", grab a pin and click anywhere within the window and it's done!

When you want to "unpin" or remove the pushpin, move your cursor over the pin - it will look like this:

DeskPins active

Click on the pushpin and it's gone! It's that simple.

If you're interested in reading more about this program, you can find it HERE.

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