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PSP Tips & Tricks
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dot 001 PSP Installation Notes

Here are several areas of caution that you should consider before and during the installation of PSP:

  1. Associating File Formats:

    The standard installation associates several common file formats with PSP, such as JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, and TIFF. Clear the check marks for all of these unless you are sure that you want the version of PSP you are installing to replace whatever program now launches when you double click one of these files in My Computer. You can always associate PSP with these file types later using File...Preferences...File Format Associations.

    PSP X4 Note: PSP X4 associates all files not already associated with another application with itself during the install. To remove a file from being associated with PSP (or to add a file), use the File Format Association dialog; if that does not work, right-click on a file with that extension using Windows Explorer, choose Open With, and then choose Choose Default Program. This dialog will help you choose the program you want to use to open the file.

  2. Avoiding conflicts with previous versions of PSP:

    PSP, by default, will set up user files in a folder called "My PSP Files". If you have previous versions of PSP installed, and you did not set up customized folders for user files for those versions, the standard installation for any version of PSP will commingle resource files (tubes, scripts, brushes, etc.) with what you already have in "My PSP Files". Though intended to make it easy to migrate from previous versions, this choice entails a risk for previous version users. The risk is that some resources (like scripts, brushes, etc.) created in higher versions will not be accessible in prior versions, but will appear in those versions' lists of resources. Likewise, modifying some prior version resources in a higher version of PSP may render them unusable in the earlier versions.

  3. How to prevent these conflicts:

    During the PSP installation, after the License Agreement and Personal Information screens, you will get the "Ready to Install the Program" screen. On this screen, click on the "Advanced" button in the bottom, left corner of the screen (red arrow below - screenshots from PSP X2):

    install screen with Advanced button

    This will activate a dialog in which you can change the location for your personally created files:

    install screen with Advanced button

    Click the "Change" button (blue arrow above) to change this location from "My PSP Files" to something like "My PSP X2 Files" if you are installing PSP X2, for example. Press the "Install" button when you are ready to install PSP.

    After your PSP installation is complete and running well, you can copy any previous version resources that you want into the folders for the newly-installed version of PSP, or use the File...Preferences...File Locations dialog to make the previous version files available to this version of PSP.

    PSP X3+ Note: The ability to choose the location for user resources during the install is no longer available beginning with PSP X3. The PSP X3 install will use My PSP Files for personally created user resources in all cases. And most importantly, the PSP X3 install (for some users anyway) appears to be a destructive install, and will remove anything it finds in the My PSP Files folder. Therefore, if you have resources in this folder that you want to preserve, move them to another location before the PSP X3 install.
    PSP X4 Note: In PSP X4, the user resource folder name has been changed to Corel PaintShop Pro. This folder can be found in your Documents (or My Documents) folder.

    There is nothing to prevent you from setting up your own folders for PSP X3+ resources once the install is complete. Just set up a folder, such as My PSP X3 Files, or PSP X4 Files and create subfolders for all the resources within that folder identical to those created in My PSP Files/Corel PaintShop Pro folder. Once you have the folders created, use File...Preferences...File Locations to add your new folders to PSP. At the same time, you can remove the references to the My PSP Files/Corel PaintShop Pro folders.

    Uninstalling PSP X3 using the Control Panel uninstall will likely remove all user resources created when PSP was installed. Therefore, if you have to uninstall PSP for any reason, be sure to copy all resources before the uninstall, or risk losing them.

  4. Yahoo! Toolbar with Pop-Up Blocker:

    On the "Ready to Install the Program" screen (first screen shown above), and at the end of the install, on the "InstallShield Wizard Completed" screen, you may be invited to install the Yahoo! Toolbar with Pop-Up Blocker. If you do not want the Yahoo! Toolbar with Pop-Up Blocker, be sure to UNcheck this option in BOTH locations.

    If you decide to install the Yahoo! Toolbar, you may find it difficult to remove. Microsoft has published an article titled "How to Uninstall or Turn off the Yahoo! Companion Browser Toolbar" at It says "... you may be unable to remove it or hide it. You may be unable to hide the toolbar when you click Toolbars on the View menu. There may be no entry for Yahoo in Add/Remove Programs." The article goes on to give directions for removing the toolbar. If the toolbar is appealing, you can always get it directly from Yahoo! after installing PSP.

dot 002 Retaining Previous Versions of PSP

Installing any version of PSP does not interfere with other installed versions of PSP if you choose the right options during installation. Each version of PSP is a separate program, and several versions can run side by side. You may wish to keep previous versiona installed, at least until you know whether you will miss the features you've come to rely on in these versions, and at least until you have copied any resources (tubes, scripts, brushes, etc.) that you want.

There is one area where there may be some overlapping between versions of PSP, especially later versions, you might want to check on. I noticed on my system that the AutoSave file location and file name was identical in PSP XI and PSP X2, and in PSP X2 and PSP X3. This is not a good thing, and should be changed. To change the location for the PSP AutoSave files:

  • Choose File...Preferences...File Locations.
  • Scroll down to Undo/Temporary Files in the "File types" window on the left. The current location of your undo/temporary files will show up in the Folder box in the "Undo/Temporary file folders" window on the right.
  • Copy the location shown in the Folder box and paste it into the Address box on any Windows Explorer screen.
  • Click the Back button to move out of this folder.
  • Create a new temporary folder with a meaningful name - I suggests something like "PSP [version number] Temp Files".
  • Double-click on this new temporary files name.
  • Copy the entire path from the Address box.
  • Return to PSP and enter this new path name into the Folder box in the "Undo/Temporary file folders" window of File Locations.
  • Click OK to save your settings.

Although they are separate, the different versions of PSP can interact by using the same folders to store resources. See #001 PSP Installation Notes above for how to avoid these interactions.

If you have become dependent on using Quick Guides for installed tutorials, you may want to keep at least PSP 9 installed. The Learning Center was redesigned in PSP X, removing the ability to install tutorials as Quick Guides, so if you've come to rely on this feature, you'll need to retain either PSP 8 or PSP 9.

Note: There is another way to "simulate" the PSP 8 and PSP 9 way of viewing tutorials in the PSP workspace - See #204 Using DeskPins to View Tutorials in PSP for an exciting way to replace the "missing" Quick Guide facility for versions of PSP after PSP 9.

dot 003 Tool Changes

Each version of PSP contains changes to the names, functions, and even icons for tools, the most significant of which are listed below:

dot 004 Menu Changes

In each release, menu items are dropped, moved, or changed. Luckily, most of the dropped menu items/commands are still available, and you can add them to your menus as needed, using Customize - the retained commands can be found in the Unused Commands Category of Customize.

The most significant menu changes for each release are listed below:

  • PSP X:
    1. Many menu items dropped, including Gammma Correction, Automatic Contrast Enhancement, Automatic Saturation Enhancement, Black and White Points, Grey World Color Balance, Manual Color Correction, Matting, Defringe, Remove Black Matte and Remove White Matte. Most of these items are still available in the Unused Commands Category in the Customize dialog.
    2. One Step Purple Fringe Fix added to the Adjust menu.
    3. Smart Photo Fix added to the Adjust menu.
    4. One Step Noise Removal added to the Adjust menu.
    5. Photo Effects added to the Effects menu.
    6. Icons next to menu items are no longer there by default. To view the icons in the menus, choose View...Customize, click on the Menu tab, and check the "Menu icons" check box.

  • PSP XI:
    1. Depth of Field added to the Adjust menu.
    2. Skin Smoothing added to the Adjust menu.
    3. Time Machine added to the Effects...Photo Effects menu.
    4. Film and Filters added to the Effects...Photo Effects menu.

  • PSP X2:
    1. Restore to Original added to File menu.
    2. Save for Office added to File menu.
    3. HDR Photo Merge added to File menu.
    4. Set Wallpaper added to File...Export menu.
    5. Switch Language added to File...Preferences menu.
    6. Visible Watermark added to Image...Watermarking menu (see 013 Visible Watermark Flattens Image below for more information on this feature).

  • PSP X3:
    1. Local Tone Mapping added to the Adjust...Brightness and Contrast menu - replaces former Clarify.
    2. Vibrancy added to the Adjust...Hue and Saturation menu.
    3. Object Extractor added to the Image menu.
    4. Smart Carver added to the Image menu.

  • PSP X4:
    1. Revert, Restore Original, and Delete moved from File menu to Edit menu.
    2. Share added to File menu - for sharing images on social media.
    3. Photo Blend, a new facility for combining photos, added to File menu.
    4. Database backup, a new facility for protecting your photo library, added to File menu.
    5. New HDR tools (Exposure Merge and Batch Merge) have been added to the File menu.
    6. Dual Monitor support added to View menu.
    7. Graphite Workspace Theme option removed from the View menu, as no workspace viewing options available in this release.
    8. On Image menu, Mirror has been renamed as Flip Horizontal, and Flip has been renamed as Flip Vertical.
    9. Two new options have been added to the Effects...Photo Effects menu - Selective Focus and Vignette.
    10. A new option - Fill Light/Clarity - has been added to the Adjust...Brightness and Contrast menu.

dot 005 Palette Keyboard Shortcuts

Here's the list of keyboard shortcuts to turn palettes on and off in PSP:

Palette Keyboard Shortcut
Hide/Restore All
Floating Palettes
History Palette (PSP 9+) F3
Script Output Palette F3 (PSP 8)
Tool Options Palette F4
Materials Palette F6
Mixer Palette (PSP 9+) SHIFT + F6
Histogram Palette F7
Layers Palette F8
Overview Palette F9
Learning Center Palette F10
Brush Variance Palette F11
Browser (pre-PSP XI)/
Organizer (PSP XI+)

dot 006 Dialog Box and Palette Changes

Here are some of the significant palette and dialog box changes from release to release:

dot 007 Naming Conventions

In PSP XI, Corel chose to significantly rename the resources provided with the product. This was done in a manner which makes it easier for the company to localize products across eight languages. In this effort, every resource file and folder name was changed to something generic which can be kept constant across the localized copies. Therefore, the folders in the Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo folder have been renamed as follows:

Pre-PSP XI Name PSP XI+ Name
Brushes Corel_01
Bump Maps Corel_02
Deformation Maps Corel_03
Displacement Maps Corel_04
Environment Maps Corel_05
Gradients Corel_06
Masks Corel_07
Patterns Corel_08
Picture Frames Corel_09
Picture Tubes Corel_10
Preset Shapes Corel_11
Selections Corel_12
Styled Lines Corel_13
Swatches Corel_14
Textures Corel_15
Mixer Pages Corel_16

I won't list the names of the individual resources - the list would be endless. However, these are just as generic as the folder names. For example, the Ellipse preset shape is now called Corel_11_069, and the former Pointy Flower paintbrush is now called Corel_01_037, and the Autumn leaves.PspTube picture tube is now called Corel_10_043.PspTube.

Thankfully, the labels have been returned to the drop-lists of resources, such as the shapes and picture tube and brushes lists, so users can see the names they are familiar with.

To see the list that contains the new "generic-ized" names and the corresponding "logical" name used in versions prior to PSP XI, browse the file entitled "ContentTranslationText.xml" in the Languages folder within the Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo folder.

In the interest of assisting script authors to use the correct names or PSP resources in scripts, I have created readable "Translation Tables" from the ContentTranslationText.xml file distributed with PSP. Currently, these tables contain only the resources found in earlier versions of PSP, along with the new, "anonymous", generic name now used in PSP XI+. You can find these Word documents here:

Bump Maps
Deformation Maps
Displacement Maps
Enviromnent Maps
Picture Frames
Picture Tubes
Preset Shapess
Styled Lines

dot 008 Cache and Related Files

Beginning in PSP X, new files appeared in the Cache folder. These include the following:

  • PSP X:
    1. CMD.PspCache - according to Corel, this file is used to cache some basic command and tool information so that at startup, PSP does not have to actually load the command and tool DLLs, which are loaded when they are needed rather than at startup. This was done to improve startup performance.

    2. USE.PspCache - according to Corel, this file is used to track the kinds of commands you use frequently. When the application determines you use them frequently, they will be loaded at startup so they are readily available to you.

    3. *.jbf (with names such as DESKTOP.jbf, PERSONAL.jbf, WINDOWS.jbf, etc.) - according to Corel, these files are used to store Browser information for special folders (like the Desktop folder, the Windows folder, or CDs) in order to avoid a messy look in such special folders.

  • PSP XI:
    1. There are no new cache files in the PSP XI Cache folder. The only change here is you will no longer see any *.jbf files in the Cache folder. PSP X created *.jbf files in the cache folder to store Browser information for special folders, such as the Desktop folder (DESKTOP.jbf), the Windows folder (WINDOWS.jbf), the My Pictures folder (MYPICTURES.jbf), etc., in order to avoid a messy look in such special folders.

    2. Because the Organizer catalogs all files under its control, it uses database files (it no longer produces any .jbf files). There are two of these database files:
      ImageDB.db - this file stores all the meta data and file location info
      thumbnails.db - this file stores the thumbnails

    3. On initial install, PSP catalogs all images in the My Pictures and Shared Pictures folders, as well as all their subfolders. This might create a rather hefty database, including lots of images you don't really want cataloged. If this happens to you, and PSP takes longer and longer to restart each time, close PSP XI and move all those images to a new location. Then delete the two database files listed above - when you restart PSP, these files will be re-allocated and rebuilt.

      Another symptom that might indicate a database problem is a long pause during program initiation, often when the "Updating Cache Settings" message displays. If this occurs and does not improve on PSP XI restarts, you might consider deleting these database files.

      If you do not want to use the organizer at all and want to prevent it from hijacking lots of CPU cycles on your PC, shut down PSP, delete the database files, and reallocate "dummy" files to take their place. A couple of empty text files renamed as ImageDB.db and thumbnails.db will do. Use the Properties dialog (right-click on the file name and choose Properties from the pop-up menu) to mark these files Read-only. This will prevent PSP XI from cataloging all your image files - note, however, that this will make the Organizer unusable, so only take this step if you do not plan to use the Organizer. If you subsequently decide you want to work with the Organizer, shut down PSP and delete the dummy files you created. When PSP restarts, the files will be reallocated and images in the My Pictures and Shared Pictures folders will be cataloged.

    4. One last item in this area - there are actually a couple of new cache files associated with the Organizer called LastDBFilter.PspCache and LastDBTreeSel.PspCache. These cache files can be found in the same location as the Organizer database files rather than within the PSP XI Cache folder.

  • PSP X2:
    1. There are no new cache files in the PSP X2 Cache folder. There are database files and cache files associated with the PSP X2 Organizer.

    2. On initial install, you will find a Thumbs folder and an ImageDB.db file, which stores the meta data and file location information. You will also see a LastDBFilter.PspCache file here, and later, a file called LastDBTreeSel.PspCache file will appear. All these files/folders are associated with the Organizer.

      If you are also running PSP XI, it has similar files, but they are located in different places on each system, which differs from one release of Windows to the next. You might want to note where these files are located BEFORE installing a new version of PSP. Because these files have the same names, and are located in similar locations, it is important for you to know which files belong to which version of PSP, in case there are problems.

      The incredibly slow performance experienced in PSP XI while PSP cataloged all the files in the My Pictures folder and subfolders appears to be resolved in PSP X2. However, some people may still experience problems. If your installation hangs on the "Updating Cache Settings" message, and does not improve on PSP X2 restarts, you might consider deleting the Thumbs folder, the database files, and the cache files described above.

  • PSP X3:
    1. There are no new cache files in the PSP X3 Cache folder.

    2. PSP X3 has two new database files: RawSettingsDB.db ScriptMgrDB.db. I have not seen an accurate description of the functions of either of these files, nor have I been able to get anyone at Corel to provide these descriptions.

  • PSP X4:
    1. There are no new cache files in the PSP X4 Cache folder.

    2. The ScriptMgrDB.db database file, first introduced in PSP X3, appears to have disappeared in PSP X4.

dot 009 Using PSP 7 Files in PSP

PSP can generally read files created in earlier versions of the program - the exceptions to this are Brushes and Presets from versions before PSP 8. These must be converted to be accessible:

  1. Presets created in PSP 7 must be converted to work in higher versions of PSP. Fortunately, Gary Barton has written a wonderful script that does the job for you. Gary's PSP 7 Preset Converter can be found HERE. Presets created in versions from PSP 8 on will work without conversion in any version of PSP starting with PSP 8.

  2. Brushes created in versions of PSP prior to PSP 8 also need to be converted. See #088 Using Custom Brushes in PSP for a complete discussion of the conversion process for brushes.

There is no need to convert other files, such as tubes and masks and styled lines, etc. - once the folders containing these items have been added in the File Preferences list, any version of PSP can access them.

dot 010 Using PSP Files in Previous Versions of PSP

Many files created and saved in PSP can be used in previous versions of PSP. Exceptions to this are Picture Tube files and regular PSP image files. Picture Tubes created in PSP 9+ save Scale information, which was not done in previous versions. Therefore, these files cannot be read by other versions of PSP. However, Picture Tubes created in any version of PSP starting in PSP 9 can be read in any version of PSP starting with PSP9.

Images saved as PSP files (with the pspimage extension) cannot be read in previous versions of PSP either, unless they are saved in a prior format. This can be done by clicking the Options button in the Save/Save As dialog and selecting the version desired. Be aware that any information exclusive to a higher version of PSP (such as, for example, Layer Styles information in images created in PSP X2) will be lost in images saved in an earlier format.

Version Note: Though PSP X3 does not appear to have a native format, and saves its PSP files in PSP X2 format, PSP X4 DOES have its own native format. Interestingly enough, if you click the Options button on a Save/Save As in PSP X4, one of the options in the Save droplist is "PSP X3 compatible file". However, files saved using this format can be opened in PSP X2, meaning there is still no native PSP X3 format.

dot 011 Crop Tool Enhancements - and Warnings!

One of the enhancements in PSP X2 is the ability to freely rotate a crop rectangle. This feature can be helpful when, for example, you want to straighten and then crop a crookedly scanned photo. However, there are problems with the implementation of this feature:

  1. In PSP X2, the rotated crop box must be retained entirely within the image area. If the crop box moves outside the image area when it is rotated, a new crop box will appear that lies within the confines of the image. This "new" crop box will retain the angle and axis point of the rotated crop box, but will "shrink to fit" within the image. In my experience, the new crop box will retain the aspect ratio of the original crop box, but will at times be considerably smaller than what the user intended. This was corrected in PSP X3 - in this release, the crop box can extend outside the image.

  2. Though the Tool Options toolbar does not have any field for setting (or viewing) the rotation angle of the crop box, this information can be obtained from the Info tab of the Overview Palette (F9) when holding down the CTRL key while left-clicking on the rotation handle:

    rotated crop angle

    You can also control the rotation of the crop rectangle in 15-degree increments if you press the SHIFT key while dragging the rotation handle. So the first click rotates the image to 15 degrees, the second click to 30 degrees, the third click to 45 degrees, etc. The 15-degree intervals are always measured from 0, not from the last rotation. So if you want lossless rotation, you can easily get back to 90 or 180 or 270 degrees by dragging the rotation handle on the crop rectangle until you get close to where you want to be, and then hold down the SHIFT key and nudge the handle again to get to 90 or 180 or 270 degrees. Handy for getting the crop rectangle back to 0 too - just swing the crop rectangle around so the small rotation handle is near 0, hold down the SHIFT, and nudge it back to 0. Just keep an eye on the small rotation handle - that will be the top of the image when it's cropped. Very cool, indeed!

    Note: Crop rectangle rotation is non-scriptable and non-undoable. This means that once you've rotated a crop rectangle, you cannot "change your mind" and undo the rotation, returning the crop rectangle back to its original size and position. Because the crop rectangle changes size to fit the image, the original size may be lost on rotation. This does not mean the crop itself is non-undoable - it means the rotation of the crop rectangle is non-undoable. In other words, you can't place a crop rectangle and then rotate it, and use CTRL + Z to undo the rotation. CTRL + Z has no effect on crop rectangle rotation. If you want to return the crop rectangle to the size and position it occupied before crop rotation, you'll have to do that by hand.

    Likewise, you cannot have a script just rotate a crop rectangle for you and stop there. A script can rotate a crop rectangle before cropping, and crop accordingly, but that's all accomplished in one step/command.

  3. Starting in PSP X2, the Crop tool has a new function called "Crop as new image". When the Crop as new image button (crop as new image button) is clicked on the Tool Options palette, or on the floating toolbar for the Crop tool, a new image is created, but the cropped image remains unchanged, and remains the active image. The newly cropped image gets focus for about 3 seconds, and then focus is returned to the original image. This feature offers a useful method of creating individual images from a single image, or from a scan of multiple images. For example, if you scan four photos in one scanning session, you can use this feature to quickly create individual image files for each of the four photos without losing the original scanned image.

    The Rotate feature of the crop tool really comes in handy here as well - not only can you straighten the photos that are crooked, but you can rotate the crop rectangle further (roughly 90 degrees) and not only straighten them, but convert the vertical (portrait) format photos that are horizontal in the scanned image, to their correct orientation, in a single step. Works with upside down photos too. Wherever the little rotation handle ends up will be the top after it's cropped as a new image.

  4. The ability to move the side of the crop rectangle by clicking and dragging anywhere along the side of the crop rectangle was lost in PSP X2 - to move the side of the crop rectangle, one must now click and drag on the node, as dragging on the side moves the entire crop rectangle. This makes precise adjustments of the crop rectangle when zoomed in on large images almost impossible. This functionality was not returned in an PSP X2 patches, nor was it restored in PSP X3.
    Version Note: This functionality was restored with the first service pack of PSP X4. Alleluia!!!!
    Note: Though the loss of the ability to click and drag anywhere along the side of the crop rectangle makes it more difficult to move the sides of the crop rectangle when zoomed in (in PSP X2 and PSP X3), it can still be done. The secret is to click on the side node BEFORE zooming in. Then use the arrow keys to move the side. Takes some pre-planning, but it can be done. And if you think you might want to move both the left side and the bottom, for example, click on the lower left corner node - now, using the left arrow moves the side of the crop box, and using the down arrow moves the bottom of the crop box. Of course, the other keys that work with the arrow keys also work here - see the See 188 Moving/Adjusting the Crop Area Rectangle article for more information on moving the sides of a crop rectangle.

  5. Another thing dropped in the redesign of the Crop tool in PSP X2 was the set of positioning controls found in earlier versions - the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right boxes in the Crop tool Tool Options palette. I found these controls extremely helpful, and miss them very much PSP X2+. If you, too, miss them and can make a case for their return, EMAIL Corel about it!
    Version Note: There is a "flakey" problem with the Crop tool in PSP X4. If you do NOT have tabbed documents active, and you have several documents open, and the Crop tool is active, sometimes when you click on the title bar of an image to make it the active image, all of a sudden, the workspace converts to tabbed documents! To return to non-tabbed documents view, you have to select Window...Cascade. Unfortunately, if you leave the Crop tool active, this scenario will re-play the minute you click on another title bar. To prevent this from happening, I always immediately activate another tool once I complete a crop action. For the times when I forget to switch tools, I put the Cascade button on my suzStandard toolbar, and then assigned it a shortcut key, so getting out of tabbed format is just a click away! Hopefully, this anomaly will be fixed in an X4 patch !

dot 012 Paste As New Image - New Shortcut

Starting in PSP X2, the long-time keyboard shortcut for Paste As New Image, CTRL+V, was reassigned to the Paste As New Layer command. If this is terribly confusing to you and you want the "old" keyboard shortcut back, just reassign it using Customize!

dot 013 Visible Watermark Flattens Image

Beginning in PSP X2, one can add a visible watermark to an image. This feature simplifies the task of adding a logo or other graphic to your image, and the Visible Watermark dialog allows for user choices in size, location, and opacity of the watermark. You can even add embossing to your watermark to give it a subtle look.
Note: The application of the watermark automatically FLATTENS the image. You CANNOT place the visible watermark on a layer by itself so you can make further changes to the watermark itself, or to the image to which you have applied the watermark. If you do not have Prompt set in Auto Actions for "Flattens image to a single background layer" (the default is to have Always set, which means the action is ALWAYS performed automatically), the image will be flattened without any warning whatsoever.

dot 014 Tips for Using the Thinify Option

The Thinify option of the Makeover tool can make one lose many pounds quickly! To minimize blurring around the edges of photos, use just one click. If you want a stronger effect, undo and try again with more strength. If only losing weight were this easy!

Another way to avoid blurring on the edges of the image is to increase the canvas size before applying the thinning effect. When the Thinify effect has been applied, crop the image to remove the colored edges of the canvas.

The Thinify effect compresses pixels along the horizontal axis. If for some reason you want to thin the image from top to bottom rather than from side to side, rotate the image 90 degrees (Image...Rotate Right), apply the thinning effect, and then rotate the image back to its original position.

dot 015 Layer Styles

Layer styles were introduced in PSP X2. Using Layer Styles, you can easily add drop shadows, embossing, inner and outer glows, bevels and reflections to your images. It's really simple to use, and the effects are applied to all objects on the layer. Even if you add new items to the layer after applying Layer Styles, those styles are applied to the new additions as well. And Layer Styles can be applied to vector objects as well - it's no longer necessary to duplicate vector layers and convert to raster to apply styles.

Layer Styles are accessed from the Layer Properties dialog by clicking on the Layer Styles tab. The Layer Properties dialog can be activated by any of the following methods:

  • Right-click on the layer in the Layers palette and choose Properties from the context menu.
  • Double-click on the Layer Name.
  • Choose Layers...Properties.

The Layer Styles interface is a little disappointing - you won't find exactly the same controls as in the regular dialogs, and there are no numbers to set, just sliders. For example, if you want to add a bevel to a layer, you have only the Size slider (which is used "to set the distance from the outer edge of the layer data to the extent of the bevel") and the Opacity slider (used "to set lightness intensity and visibility of the bevel"), along with that "two-dimensional lighting control" (used "to set the direction and distance of the light applied to the effect"). I think I much prefer being able to numerically set controls precisely where I want them, and maybe choose the bevel shape as well! I'm not sure I understand the pooling of all the controls from the basic effects into these sliders and two-dimensional controls - if you're unhappy, too, you can always EMAIL Corel and let them know what you don't like.

If you want to see what the layer looks like without the Layer Styles you've applied, click the Layer Effects Visibility Toggle on the top of the Layers Palette (red arrow below):

PSP X2 layers palette

If you want to see what the Layer Styles look like without the content of the layer itself, UNcheck the Layer checkbox on the Layer Styles tab - interesting! The Opacity slider on this Layer Style also allows you to reduce the opacity on the layer contents without affecting the styles that have been applied to the contents of the layer.

Unfortunately, the Layer Styles dialog does not retain last used settings. This can be very frustrating if you want to use the same settings on many images. If you have this requirement, once you have the settings you want, save those settings as a preset by clicking on the Save Preset icon save preset icon next to the Presets droplist. Layer Styles presets are saved in your Presets folder and will have names in this format:


where xxxxx is the name you chose when you saved the preset.

Use caution when applying Layer Styles to images that you want to save in pre-PSP X2 format. Layer Styles are not supported in earlier versions of PSP, and any attempt to save images with Layer Styles applied in a pre-PSP X2 format will result in a flattened image.

dot 016 The Resource Manager

The Resource Manager, a facility that began in PSP 9, allows the user to manage resources, such as gradients, tubes, patterns, brushes, etc., directly within PSP, without having to return to the File Locations dialog all the time, or to the PSP Browser or Windows Explorer. You can do many things now right within PSP, such as delete a resource, rename a resource, copy a resource to another location, or move a resource.

This is all made possible through the Resource Manager dialog, which can be activated by clicking on the Resource Manager button: resource manager button

This button can be found wherever you find a Presets drop-list (such as in the Tool Options palette, or in dialogs), or the visual resource drop-list or "picker" for resources such as Paint Brushes, Gradients, etc.

Note: There are several important things to note about working with the Resource Manager:
  1. Resource categories are folders that have been defined using the File Locations dialog. That is the ONLY way to populate the Categories list.
  2. Use caution when copying items from one category or folder to another. PSP does not allow duplicate file names, so if you copy an item from one resource category to another, it will still only be visible from one category. If you want it visible in both categories, you must rename one resource.
  3. The Resource Manager only allows you to have one category active at a time. This might not meet your needs.
  4. If you need to add another category to the resource list, close the Resource Manager dialog and click the File locations button, available wherever the Resource manager button is found: file locations button

dot 017 Recoloring Images

There are many ways to recolor photos or images such as filmy images with subtle nuances of color such as Sinedots images. Here are some of the ways I've used over the years:

  1. To change the color of an image while retaining the shades and diaphanous effect, activate the Sinedots layer, choose Selections...Select All (CTRL + A), and then Selections...Float (CTRL + F). Then use the Flood Fill tool flood fill tool to add a solid color, gradient, or pattern to the Sinedots image.

  2. Another way to change the color of an image while retaining the shades and diaphanous effect is to activate the layer containing the image and click the Lock Transparency button (padlock on the far right edge of the layer lock transparency button on). Then use the Flood Fill tool flood fill tool to add a solid color, gradient, or pattern to the image. The Lock Transparency option restricts the editing of raster layers to the pixels that already contain data. Remember to unlock the layer transparency when you have completed the color change.
    Note: When transparency is locked, the Lock Transparency button displays a locked padlock lock transparency button on. When transparency is not locked, the Lock Transparency button shows an unlocked padlock lock transparency button off
    Version Note: This "trick" works in versions of PSP prior to PSP XI, but something changed in PSP XI and this trick will no longer work, unless you click directly on each of the areas you want to change the color of. If you want to replace all areas of a certain color in the image with a different color, use the Color Replacer tool color replacer tool. See #081 Color Replacer Tool Tips for more information on using this tool.
    Another Version Note: In PSP X4, the way locked transparency is indicated has changed. There is no longer a "padlock" at the far right edge of each layer. The Lock Transparency button (the padlock) now appears at the top of the Layers palette, and ONLY appears at the right end of a layer when you have locked transparency for that layer. In addition, PSP X4 allows you to select multiple layers by holding down the SHIFT key while selecting layers - in this way, you can lock multiple layers at one time.

  3. A third way to change the color of an image is to choose Adjust...Hue and Saturation...Colorize. Using the Hue and Saturation sliders, you can change the colors easily. My favorite combinations include:

    Remember, the original color of the image influences the resulting shades when colorizing.

    Note: Colorize changed somewhat in PSP 9, a change that has continued since that time. You may not achieve the same shades as in previous versions of PSP, especially in the yellow/gold ranges. If this is a problem for you, see the #136 Getting the PSP 8 Colorize Results in PSP 9+ article for more information.

  4. A fourth way I've used to change the color of images is to choose Adjust...Hue and Saturation...Hue/Saturation/Lightness. This one is used to shift all the colors of an image or selection and change their strength and luminance. It takes some practice to use "efficiently".

  5. Another method for changing the color of images is to use the Change to Target Brush tool. This method - one of my favorites - changes pixels based on a characteristic of the current color - hue, saturation or lightness. Some really nice shading can be achieved with this method. Adjusting the other values on the Change to Target Brush Tool Options palette adds further variation to the colorizing.

  6. PSP XI introduced a new tool for coloring images called the Color Changer. This tool does a great job of changing the color of an element in a photo while preserving the shading and luminosity of the original color. To recolor using the Color Changer tool, position the Color Changer cursor over the color you want to change in the image, and then click to recolor with the Foreground/Stroke color, or right-click to recolor with the current Background/Fill color. Click Apply to set the color change on the object. If you want to change the recoloring color, click another color in the Materials palette before clicking Apply.

    You can also adjust the the color you have chosen by changing the Tolerance and Edge Softness settings in the Color Replacer tool Tool Options palette before clicking Apply. Once you have the recoloring you want, click Apply to prevent further changes when colors are changed in the Materials palette.

    This recoloring method works with color only, and not with patterns or gradients. But one of its greatest advantages is that it works with whites and blacks, something the other color changing methods don't always do so well!

dot 018 Linking Layers

To group layers so that when you move one layer on the image canvas, all layers in the group move together, use the Layer Link buttons on the Layers palette (layer link button), changing each layer you want to link to the same number. Left-click to increase the number and right-click to decrease it - by default, this button says "None". Use group linking to have all layers within a layer group move together on the image canvas (see 019 Grouping Layers below).
Note: When the right pane of the Layers palette is suppressed (PSP X+) and a layer's link button has been activated, an icon is added to the layer name button (layer link button on layer name button) reminding you that this layer's link button is active. Also, when a layer that is linked is active, the same layer link icon will appear on all other layers it is linked to.
Version Note: In PSP X4, linking layers is accomplished a bit differently. In PSP X4, select all the layers you want linked together (by holding down the SHIFT key and clicking on each of the layers), and then click the Link/Unlink button at the top of the Layers palette. These layers will now all become part on the same Link set, and will move together. To determine the Link set number for any layer in PSP X4, use the Layers . . . Properties dialog (this dialog can also be accessed by right-clicking on a layer, and choosing Properties from the context menu). If you activate another layer and click the Link/Unlink button, that layer will become part of a different link set. If you want to add this layer to the first link set (or any other link set), use the Properties dialog to match its Link set number to that of the set you want it to become part of.

dot 019 Grouping Layers

Create layer groups to group multiple layers together. Layer groups allow you to:
  • Organize the Layers palette.
  • Select layer properties such as opacity and blend mode for the whole group.
  • Apply masks to whole sets of layers rather than just one.
  • Limit effect of adjustment layers to those below them in a group rather than in the entire image.
  • Move all grouped layers in stacking order together.
  • Copy and paste (or drag and drop) entire groups of layers to new images.

By default, grouped layers are also linked (see previous item). The group link toggle button on the Layers palette (group link button 0n) shows when the layers are linked. This icon only appears when the layer group's layer name button is active. When the group is not linked, the group link toggle button displays a red "x" (group link button off).

dot 020 Copying A Layer And Keeping Data In Same Location

Usually, when you copy a layer from one image to another, the layer centers itself in the new image. This is because the bounding box of the valid (non-transparent) data in the layer is what counts, and after pasting, this is placed in the center of the image. This might not always be desirable.

To prevent PSP from centering the image, you can force a layer to paste in a way that appears to you as aligned the way it was in the original image. To accomplish this, do the following before copying the layer: using the Paint Brush tool at Opacity 1 and Size 1, left-click each corner pixel of the image/layer. Now copy and paste the image/layer. This trick makes the bounding box of the layer data equal in size to the image and the pixels placed in the corners are of such low opacity, they are virtually invisible.

I have written two scripts that help users to achieve this effect - one adds the positioning pixels to the current layer only, and the second adds the positioning pixels to all layers of an image. You can find both scripts HERE.

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