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PSP Tips & Tricks
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dot 041 Making Proportional Selections

To make selections suitable for "pasting into" other areas, they must be proportional to those areas. In PSP terms, the source selection must have the same aspect ratio as the target area. To ensure this
  • If you are making the selection to be copied into, note the aspect ratio on the status bar and use this number when selecting from your source image.
  • If you are copying into a selection of unknown proportions, copy the selection to a new image, determine its aspect ratio by viewing the Resize dialog, and use this number when selecting from your source image.
  • If you need an image of specific dimensions, make a new image with those dimensions, use the Resize dialog to determine its aspect ratio, use this number when selecting from your source image, and copy the selection directly to this new image.

For a detailed explanation of these methods, visit my
Making Proportional Selections Tutorial.

dot 042 Making Transparent GIFs

To save an image as a transparent GIF, use File...Export...GIF Optimizer, and use the following settings:
  • On the Transparency tab, select either Existing image or layer transparency (if your image has no colored background), or Areas that match this color. If you select the latter, be sure the color swatch contains the color you want to be transparent - the color shown will be the last color used in this dialog. Click on the color swatch to select a new color. Adjust the Tolerance setting when the area you want to be transparent contains pixels that are close in color but not exactly the same color.
  • On the Partial Transparency tab, I usually select Use full transparency for pixels below 5% opacity, and Yes, blend with the background color. The color swatch here contains the last color used in this dialog. Click on the color box to choose a new color - this should be the dominant color of your page's background. If you want the current foreground or background color, right-click and choose the appropriate color box from the lower left, bottom panel of the dialog.
    Note: This is very important in getting good transparent GIFs - if you don't select this color carefully, you may have a fringe around your image, because part of the transparent GIF process blends the colors from the image into the background color. If you want a transparent GIF image that will look good on various backgrounds, select a neutral background color such as a medium gray.
  • On the Colors tab, I usually leave How many colors do you want? set to 256 and How much dithering do you want? set to 100%. For the color selection method, I use either Optimized Median Cut or Optimized Octree, whichever looks better.
  • On the Format tab, select Non-interlaced if you want the image to load one line at a time, starting from the top down. Select Interlaced if you want the image to display incrementally in several passes, with detail being added each time. Interlaced is definitely the better option with larger images - the viewer can get an idea of how the image looks while waiting for it to download - but many users use this option with all images.
  • The Download Times tab is informational.

The following table illustrates the principles described above. The teddy bear image was saved as a transparent GIF three times - the first time, it was saved with a white background, the second time, with a dark blue background, and the third time, with a medium gray background. The table displays the same image against different backgrounds - white, blue, gray, and various multi-colored backgrounds. As you can see, there is a big difference on the quality of the image depending on how it is saved, and the background it is displayed against.

Notice that none of the GIFs looks good against the last background, which is predominantly red. However, when the bear is saved as a transparent GIF with a background of red specified, the result is much more pleasing:

dot 043 Flood Filling Multiple Areas At The Same Time

When using the Flood Fill tool flood fill tool to fill several selected areas at the same time, be sure the Match Mode on the Tool Options palette is set to "None". Then, when you click in one of the areas with your Flood Fill tool, all the areas will be filled. To fill only selected areas, set the Match Mode on the Tool Options palette to "RGB".
Note: With either option described above, the value entered into the Opacity field determines how opaque the fill will be - higher numbers make the fill more opaque, and lower values make the fill more transparent. The Tolerance setting determines how much of the selected area will be filled, and while it has no relevance with a Match Mode of "None", it does influence the fill with other settings. Higher Tolerance allows more of an area to be filled, whereas a lower Tolerance setting constrains the fill to areas that are similar in color or exactly the same color as where you initially clicked.

dot 044 Protecting PSP Distributed Files From Being Changed

PSP comes with many presets, frames, gradients, masks, etc. pre-installed and ready to use. If you accidentally save a preset, frame, gradient, mask, etc. with the same name as the PSP pre-installed one, you will lose the original settings. Or if you edit the settings of gradients, and then accidentally save those new settings with the same name as the original gradient, you will lose the original settings. If you used the default settings when you installed PSP X2, you have a My PSP Files folder with subfolders for masks, frames, shapes, and all the other possible resources you might want to save. These folders should be indicated as the "Save to" path in your preferences, which will help prevent replacing the Corel-distributed ones.
Note: If the same filename exists on multiple paths only one of the files will be accessible. So if you have a tube, for instance, with the same name as a Corel-supplied tube, only one will be available in PSP. This applies to the file name itself, without the extension. Files with names blackborder.bmp, blackborder.gif, and blackborder.jpg are treated as if they have the same name, and if you have all three in your patterns folder, only one of them will be accessible in PSP - I know of no foolproof way to determine which one that will be.

You can prevent the loss of the Jasc/Corel pre-installed settings by changing the status of any and/or all of these files to "read-only". This can be done in the following manner:

  1. Browse to the Jasc/Corel Paint Shop Pro program folder.
  2. Right-click on the Jasc/Corel Paint Shop Pro folder.
  3. Choose Properties from the context menu.
  4. In the Properties dialog box, if the Read-only Attribute box is not checked, click on it until it shows a check mark.
  5. Click OK. In the Confirm Attribute Changes box that appears, select "Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files."
  6. Click OK.

If you decide you want to create another frame, mask, preset, etc. that is similar to the protected one, just copy it to a new name, right-click on the new file, select Properties from the pop-up menu, and be sure the "Read-only" Attribute is NOT checked. For best and safest results, move this new file to your My PSP Files folder, in the appropriate subfolder. It's best never to place user-created or user-edited elements in the Jasc/Corel folder.

dot 045 Using the Autosave Function

The Autosave function will automatically save a backup file of the images you are working on at specified time intervals - this will prevent you from losing your work if PSP or your computer shuts down unexpectedly. If a crash should occur, PSP will load the backup files the next time you start the program.

To enable the Autosave function, choose File...Preferences...Autosave Settings. Click the Enable autosave checkbox, select a number from the Minutes box to determine how frequently PSP creates a temporary backup file, and then click the OK button.

By default, temporary files are stored in the Temp file folder of the user who installed PSP - on my XP-Pro system, that folder is C:\Documents and Settings\Suz\Local Settings\Temp\ Temp Files. You can see where your system is saving Undo/Temporary files, and/or change this location, by choosing File...Preferences...File Locations, and clicking on the Undo/Temporary Files File type. For some important information about this temporary file location, and a possible conflict with other versions of PSP, see #002 Retaining Previous Versions of PSP.

dot 046 Deleting An Invalid or Damaged Autosave File

If the Autosave file gets corrupted or damaged, you may receive this message: "The autosave file is invalid or has been damaged". To correct this situation and delete the damaged file, follow the steps listed below - the autosave file will be recreated the next time PSP is started:
  • Choose File...Preferences...File Locations.
  • In the File Types window, scroll down to and highlight Undo/Temporary files.
  • Write down the folder name where these files are stored.
  • Shut down PSP.
  • Go to the location you noted above - there should be a file in that folder with a PspAutosave extension. There may even be more than one file with this extension.
  • Delete the PspAutosave file(s) you found in the previous step.
  • Restart PSP.

dot 047 Getting the Cutout or Drop Shadow on Stationery To Tile Nicely

Sometimes, when you are making stationery and add a drop shadow, or use a cutout to achieve a drop shadow effect, the "edges" of the drop shadow are slightly faded:

Unless you use some technique to correct these edges, your stationery won't tile smoothly. If you apply the drop shadow or cutout to a separate layer (just check the Shadow on new layer checkbox in the Drop Shadow dialog), you can use the Pick tool pick tool (Raster Deform tool before PSP X) to "stretch" the shadow/cutout beyond the active image area to correct this problem. Just enlarge the image window by pulling up on its top edge (or maximize the image window):

Then use the Pick tool on the shadow, dragging the end nodes outside the image area:

Apply the deformation, and voilá, it tiles perfectly now.

dot 048 Another Drop Shadow Trick

Here's another way to make a drop shadow, without using PSP's Drop Shadow effect. On a separate layer, use a Paintbrush or the Pen tool to make a four- to six-pixel line that is just UNDER the item casting the shadow. Leave a small part of the line visible. Now use the Gaussian Blur effect to soften the shadow. Since it's on a separate layer, you can move it around, stretch it, shrink it, and play with it until it's just the way you want it. This trick is especially handy for adding shadows to odd shapes and in small areas where the Drop Shadow effect is not useful.

dot 049 Customizing ToolBars and Menus

As you work in PSP, you will probably find yourself using some commands more often than others. These commands may have toolbar or menu buttons that you can add, remove, and rearrange. By customizing the toolbars and menus, you can access the commands more quickly.

To customize your toolbars and menus, choose View...Customize, or right-click on any tool or menu bar and click Customize on the context menu. The Customize dialog opens - and the possibilities before you are endless. You can even create your own toolbars and menus, and save all of these in your own customized workspace. For a detailed explanation of these methods, visit my Customizing Toolbars in PSP and my Customizing Menus in PSP Tutorials.

You can also put scripts at your fingertips, adding buttons for them to menus and toolbars, so that you can execute them quickly and efficiently. PSP X2+ provides 50 icons for this purpose, which can be used multiple times, giving you a limitless supply of bound scripts. For a detailed explanation of how to do this, visit my Using Bound Scripts in PSP.

Using these features should make you a lot more productive using PSP.

dot 050 Copying A Menu or Toolbar Item

When you're customizing your toolbars and menus, and you want to copy something from one toolbar or menu to another without removing it from its original location, hold down the CTRL key while dragging it and you'll get a COPY instead of a MOVE.

dot 051 Getting the "Right Name" In the Shapes List for New Shapes

If you make your own presets shapes, you know they have to be VECTOR objects. The name that is used for the preset shapes you export is actually the name of the sublayer that contains the shape. This is the name that must be changed to what you want for your preset shape name. To illustrate this, I opened the 3D Arrows .jsl shape library and then clicked on the + sign next to the 3D Shapes vector layer to see the objects on that layer. Here is a screen print of that shape library (on the left) next to the Layers palette for that image (on the right):

Note the name of the vector layer is 3D Arrows - this is the name of the shape library, and is what you will find in the Preset Shapes folder. The sublayers, or objects that comprise the 3D Arrows layer are the names of the preset shapes you will see when you activate the Preset Shapes tool (Arrow3D 1, Arrow3D 2, etc.). These sublayer names are the ones you need to carefully rename to the names you want to see when you use the Preset Shapes tool. To do this renaming on the shapes you create:

  • Activate the Pick tool pick tool (K) (Raster Deform tool before PSP X) and left-click a shape to select it. Then right-click the shape and select Properties from the menu that appears. In the Name box, type the new name and then click the OK button.
  • Right-click the shape's Layer Name button in the Layers palette and select Rename from the menu that appears. Type the new name on the Layers palette and then press the ENTER key.
  • Double-click the shape's Layer Name button in the Layers palette and type the new name in the Vector Property dialog that appears.

Note that with vector layers, the Layer Name buttons of the vector objects on the vector layer are listed below the vector layer name. To display the buttons for all the vector objects on the layer, click on the plus sign that appears next to the vector layer icon ( vector layer icon ). Find your vector object in the list that appears, and change this name to the one you want to appear in the shapes list.

When you export a shape (File...Export...Shape), the name you enter in the "Enter file name:" box is the library name for the file that will contain the shape you are exporting, NOT the shape name. It's not a bad idea to make this name match the name you want to appear in the shapes list, but it will NOT override the name that appears in the shape's Layer Name box.

dot 052 Restoring Palettes and Toolbars

If you have "lost" a palette or toolbar (such as the Layers palette, the Materials palette, or the Tools toolbar) by dragging them off the screen - or you just can't find them, no matter what you try - you can restore them to the Paint Shop Pro window by doing one of the following:
  • Press CTRL + SHIFT + T.
  • Choose File...Preferences...Reset Preferences, check the 'Make all toolbars/palettes visible and on screen' checkbox, and click OK.

Shortcuts for hiding/restoring individual palettes are listed above in the #005 Palette Keyboard Shortcuts article.

dot 053 Getting Rid of the Splash Screen

Are you still loading the PSP splash screen each time you start PSP - you know, the Jasc/Corel logo screen? Want to get rid of it? It's easy. Just choose File...Preferences...General Preferences, click on Miscellaneous in the left panel, and UNcheck the Show splash screen when application starts checkbox. It's a thing of the past.
Note: Eliminating the appearance of the PSP splash screen will not make PSP load any faster.

dot 054 Adding A Drop Shadow To A Vector Object

To add a drop shadow to a vector object:
  • Choose the Pick tool pick tool (K) and click the object.
  • Choose Selections...From Vector Object.
  • Add a new raster layer.
  • Choose Effects...3D Effects...Drop Shadow, and apply the drop shadow with the options you'd like.
  • Drag the layer with the shadow below the vector object layer in the Layers palette.

Sometimes the edges are much "cleaner" if you contract the selection made from the vector object by one pixel before applying the drop shadow effect.

Another way to add drop shadows to vector objects is by using Layer Styles. See #015 Layer Styles for more information on this exciting innovation of PSP X2.

dot 055 Determining the Size of An Image in PSP

When you are working on an image within PSP, there is no readily visible way to determine its size on disk within the PSP workspace. The status bar at the bottom of the screen (as well as the information available on the Overview palette) indicates the image's dimensions, but the "size" information there refers to the amount of memory the image is currently using, not its size on disk. There are several ways, however, to determine the image's size on disk:
  • For a previously-saved image, use PSP's Organizer (View...Palettes...Organizer ~ or ~ CTRL + B) in PSP XI+, or PSP'S Browser (File...Browse ~ or ~ CTRL + B) before PSP XI, to locate the folder where the image has been saved, and position the cursor over its thumbnail. A ToolTip displays with information about the file, including its size in kilobytes (KBs).
  • For a previousy-saved image, if you click the Image Information icon on the Standard toolbar, the size of the image on disk is shown in the Memory Used panel. Granted, it seems strange that this value is found in the Memory Used panel, but it's there, under the "On Disk" heading.
  • For a previously-saved image, use Windows Explorer to browse to the folder where you saved the image, and single click on it - you'll see the size in the leftmost panel of the screen.
  • To approximate the space an unsaved image might take on disk as either a GIF, JPEG, or PNG file, initiate the appropriate optimizer and look at the preview boxes at the top of the Optimizer dialog box - the one on the right shows the size in bytes the image will take given the current settings. Drop the three RIGHTmost digits, and you'll have its approximate size in KBs.

dot 056 Resetting Dialog Values

Many dialog boxes contain a Reset button ( dialog reset defaults button ) that restores the settings of the options to their default values. Click the Reset button to return all dialog box settings to their default program values.

To reset the dialog to the settings that displayed when you opened the dialog, select Last Used from the Presets drop-list, or hold down the SHIFT key and click the Reset button.

dot 057 Resetting Tool Options to Default Values

To reset the Tool Options palette for any tool to the default values, click the Presets drop-list and then click the Reset to default button ( dialog reset defaults button ) .

dot 058 Centering Text or Graphics

Often, after creating an image on a layer, you may need to center that image. To do this. cut the image (CTRL + X), and then paste the image as a new layer (CTRL + L). The image will be centered, horizontally and vertically, on the new layer.

For vector objects, PSP provides additional options. Choose Objects...Align:

  • Center in Canvas will place the vector object in the center of the canvas.
  • Horz. Center in Canvas will center the object between the right and left borders of the image, but will leave it at its current distance from the top and bottom borders.
  • Vert. Center in Canvas will center the object between the top and bottom borders of the image, but will leave it at its current distance from the left and right borders.

Alternately, for vector objects, activate the Pick tool pick tool (K) and choose one of the "Position on canvas" icons:

  • center in canvas - Center in Canvas.
  • horizontal center in canvas - Horizontal Center in Canvas.
  • vertical center in canvas - Vertical Center in Canvas.

There is also a script distributed with PSP called CenterLayer. This script will center any layer (vector, raster, art media, etc.). To use this script, find it in the Script toolbar drop-list and click the Run Selected Script button ( run script button ).

dot 059 Changing Grid, Guide and Snap Properties

To change the Grid, Guide and Snap properties, such as the horizontal and vertical spacing of the grid, or color of the grid or guide lines, use one of the following methods:
  • Choose View...Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties.
  • Right-click the image window title bar and choose Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties from the context menu.
  • Click the Pan tool pan tool on the Tool palette, right-click the image, and choose Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties from the context menu.
  • If the rulers are displayed, double-click on the ruler.

The Default settings group box shows settings for all future grids/guides you display. The Current image settings group box shows settings for the grid/guides in the current image - if you save that image in PSP format, and later open it, the Grid and Guide information will appear as you saved it.

dot 060 Making Soft Edges

To create a "soft edges" effect for an image, use one of the following methods:
  • Select and float the image (CTRL + A, and then CTRL + F), and then choose Selections...Modify...Contract to contract the selection by one or more pixels. Then choose Selections...Modify...Feather, and use a feather value of about 2. Copy this image (CTRL+C) and paste as a new image (CTRL + V) - with softened edges.
  • Select and float the image (CTRL + A, and then CTRL + F), and then choose Selections...Modify...Feather to set the feather value. The larger the number, the softer the edge. Once this is done, invert the selection (CTRL + SHIFT + I), and press DELETE three or four times - the more you press DELETE, the more of the image gets erased or "softened".

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