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PSP Tips & Tricks
061 - 080

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dot 061 Creating Textures From Images

If you have an image that you want to use as a texture, save in any format recognized by PSP into your Textures folder - this includes .psp, .pspimage, .jpg, .bmp, and .gif.

dot 062 Saving Your Settings In Sinedots II

To save the settings for one of your Sinedots "creations" in a cfg file, or Settings File, click on the SAVE button at the bottom of the screen, then type in the name you want for these settings in the "Enter a Setting Name" field of the Save As dialog box that pops up. It will save your settings in whichever cfg file is currently open.

If you want a new cfg or Settings File, first click on the OPEN button at the bottom of the screen. The Open Presets File dialog box will open. Type in the name you want for your new Settings File in the "File Name" box - the system will append the .cfg for you - and click on the OPEN button. Then, click on the SAVE button as outline above, to save your settings.

To load a particular Sinedots Settings file you've saved, click on the OPEN button at the bottom of the screen. A list of Settings Files will appear - just double-click on your Settings File, or the one that contains the settings you want to work with. To find the individual Sinedots setting in that Settings File, click on the small arrow beside the name box at the bottom of the screen - a list of the settings in the currently open Settings File will drop down.

Any time you're not sure which Settings File is open, click the OPEN button - the Open Presets File dialog box will pop up, and the name of the currently open Settings File will appear in the "File Name" box. If that's not the one you want, browse through the list, double-clicking on the one you want.

dot 063 Saving Images in PSP 7 Format

If you want or need to save images in PSP 7 format, for example, for Animation Shop:
  • In the Save As dialog, change the .pspimage qualifier to .psp (red box below):

    save as dialog

  • Click on the Options button (green arrow above).
  • In the Save Options dialog box, choose "PSP 7 compatible file" in the Version Save As drop-list:

    save options dialog

  • Click OK to close the Save Options dialog.
  • Click Save to save the file.

Be sure to reset the Options to whatever format you usually save in when you are done (by saving another file - there's no other way to reset the options) so that future files will be saved in the expected format.

An alternate and easier method of saving files in PSP 7 format is to use the Animation Shop file type in the Save as type of the Save As dialog (circled in red below):

save as dialog

Notice that this format saves the image with a .psp extension (blue arrow above). When this method is used, there is no need to go back and reset the Save As Options to the format you usually save in, as this method does not change those options.

Note: Although Animation Shop is no longer distributed with Paint Shop Pro, the option to save files in Animation Shop format - which is PSP 7 format - is still available. Animation Shop from previous versions of PSP can still be used to animate files created in any version of PSP, as long as those files are saved in PSP 7-compatible format.

dot 064 Determining Version Paint Shop Pro Image Saved In

To determine the version in which a PSP image or tube or frame was saved:
  • In Paint Shop Pro, choose File...Open.
  • Highlight the file and click the Details button.
  • Check the version number in the Image format panel:

    image format panel

    • If it says 10, it was saved in PSP X2 of X3 format.
    • If it says 9, it was saved in PSP XI format.
    • If it says 8, it was saved in PSP X format.
    • If it says 7, it was saved in PSP 9 format.
    • If it says 6, it was saved in PSP 8 format.
    • If it says 5, it was saved in PSP 7 format.
    • If it says 4, it was saved in PSP 6 format.
    • If it says 3, it was saved in PSP 5 format.

Note this is true of all PSP-type files, such as PSP layered images, tubes, frames, masks, brushes, shapes, etc.

Version Note: In PSP X4, the naming convention for the version number in the Image format panel was changed to match the actual version number of the format the file was/is saved in. Therefore, starting in PSP X4, if you look at the Details for any PSP File, the version number in the Image format panel will say:
  • X4 if the file was saved in PSP X4 format.
  • 12 if the file was saved in PSP X2 or PSP X3 (PSP X3 has no native format).
  • 11 if the file was saved in PSP XI format.
  • 10 if the file was saved in PSP X format.
  • 9 if the file was saved in PSP 9 format.
  • 8 if the file was saved in PSP 8 format.
  • 7 if the file was saved in PSP 7 format.
  • 6 if the file was saved in PSP 6 format.
  • 5 if the file was saved in PSP 5 format.
dot 065 Animation Tips - Using Layered Images

In my opinion, the best way to create an animation is to create a layered image in Paint Shop Pro and open the PSP file as a multi-framed animation in Animation Shop. With the file saved as a PSP file, you can go back and make any changes, add new layers, rearrange the layers, and so on.

In order for these multilayered PSP files created in PSP X2 to work correctly in Animation Shop, the following must be true:

  • The image must be saved in PSP 7 format - see #063 Saving PSP Images in PSP 7 Format above.
  • All layers must be visible when you save the image.
  • Animation Shop must be configured to keep layers as separate frames.

To configure Animation Shop to keep layers as separate frames, start Animation Shop, then choose File...Preferences...General Program Preferences, and click on the Layered Files tab. Make sure "Keep layers as separate frames" is checked. This feature causes Animation Shop to open a multilayered file and keep each layer as a separate frame. It's a very powerful feature. Also check "Preserve overall layer transparency" to retain the transparency level set for each layer.

Note: Starting in PSP X, Animation Shop is no longer supported by PSP. However, the "Export Frames...To Paint Shop Pro" command in Animation Shop still works, and will export the frames to the most recently active copy of PSP (if you have several versions open). PSP X4 seems to have dropped support for this command, even though there appears to be some communication between Animation Shop and PSP X4 - when the "Export Frames...To Paint Shop Pro" command is used in Animation Shop, an error message is generated in PSP X4, saying "The specified file cannot be identified as a supported type" - a message which makes little sense! See Tip #175, Updating Back to Animation Shop From PSP, for more information on communications between Animation Shop and PSP. Note that even the suggestions in Tip #175 for copying frames back to PSP won't work in PSP X4.

Now, open your multilayered PSP file in Animation Shop, and click the View Animation button (or choose View...Animation). If the image checks out, you're ready to save the animation.

dot 066 Animation Tips - Saving Images As Transparent Gifs

Animation shop does not do a very good job of saving transparent gifs - there are always some "jaggies" left around the image. There are three ways to avoid this problem and keep your animations "clean":
  • Use a solid background behind your animation layers. In other words, if you will be using the animation on a white background, when you have completed creating your animation image in Paint Shop Pro, create a white layer, duplicate this layer as many times as you have layers in the animation, and merge one white layer with each animation layer. This makes the white background part of the animation, and there will be no "jaggies".
  • If you have already saved the animation with a transparent background, you can still add an opaque background while in Animation Shop:
    • Choose Animation...Animation Properties.
    • On the Canvas Color tab, click Opaque.
    • Left-click inside the color box to display the Color dialog box (or right-click inside this color box to display the Recent Colors dialog box). Select the new canvas color.
    • Click OK to save your changes.
  • A third procedure that gives great results is to Customize your animation during the save process. To do this, click on the Customize button on the Animation Quality Versus Output Size screen (first screen in the save dialog after naming your animation):
    • Click on the Colors tab:
      • Choose the number of colors - I usually use 255 colors.
      • In the Create Palette by section, choose Optimized Median Cut.
      • In the Reduce Colors section, choose Error Diffusion.
    • Click on the Optimizations tab:
      • Check Write Minimal Frames.
      • Check Collapse Identical Frames.
      • Check Map Identical Pixels to Transparent.
    • Click on the Partial Transparency tab:
      • Check the first item (Convert pixels less than), and enter a low number in the box - I have 1.
      • In the next section, check the first item (Yes, blend with this color) and then click on the color box to choose a color close to your background - use the exact color for solid backgrounds.

These fields are sticky fields, and your selections should be intact for your next animation, though you may need to change the color in the color box on the Partial Transparency tab.

dot 067 Animation Tips - Adding a Logo or Watermark to All Frames of an Animation

To add a watermark or logo to all frames of an animation:
  • Open the animation in Animation Shop.
  • Open the logo/watermark you wish to add in Animation Shop.
  • Activate the animation to which the watermark is to be added.
  • Choose Edit...Select all.
  • Choose Edit...Propagate Paste.
  • Activate the logo/watermark animation.
  • Choose Edit...Copy.
  • Activate the animation to which the logo is to be added.
  • Choose Edit...Paste...Into Selected Frame.
  • Move logo/watermark into desired location, and left-click to fix in place.

dot 068 Blending "Rough" Edges

You can blend "rough" or aliased edges of a pasted-in figure into a background to approximate an anti-aliased effect by using the Soften Brush tool soften brush tool. This also works when trying to blend elements from different layers.

dot 069 Working With Vector Objects

The default node type in new vector objects (other than some vector lines) is Cusp. To evenly round out all the sharp corners of a vector shape, edit the nodes by choosing the Pen tool pen tool and selecting Edit Mode:

edit mode

Then select all nodes (CTRL + A), and change the node type to Symmetric (CTRL + S).

vector triangle
vector triangle
vector star
vector star
vector burst
vector burst
vector cross
vector cross

To exit node editing, select another tool.

dot 070 Keeping Rounded Corners Round

When you create a rounded square, and later decide you want to extend the rectangle, the rounded corners stretch out, and are no longer rounded like they were when you first created the shape. This tip will show you how to keep those corners perfectly rounded. Of course, your original shape has to be vector.

In this first set of images, the original shape is shown at the left. The center image shows stretching the rectangle by pulling on the right handle of the bounding box. Finally, the rightmost image shows the resulting rectangle. Notice the corners.

rounded corners stretched

This same thing happens when using the rounded rectangle shape to create the rectangle directly - the corners are not evenly rounded at all:

rounded rectangle

Now let's see how to correct this situation. In the next set of images, the original shape is the same. To make the rectangle, I stretched this image, too, but in a different way:

Take a close look at those corners - isn't the result much neater?

rounded corners stretched correctly

You're not restricted to extending the rectangle in only one direction. You can make it as wide or as tall as you want. Select the side nodes first, extending the rectangle as wide as needed. Then select the bottom nodes (or the top nodes) and extend in that direction until it's the correct size, always with perfectly round corners.

Now you know how to make real rounded corners.

Starting with PSP 9, there is an alternate way to draw rounded rectangles that eliminates the problems with the corners when the rectangle is stretched. Just use the new Rectangle tool, and set the horizontal and vertical radii before you draw your rectangle (larger numbers give more roundness to the corners). Then switch to Edit mode, and drag the sides or top and bottom to enlarge the rectangle. You'll see the corners are maintained exactly the same as you stretch the object.

dot 071 Drawing An Arc

The easiest way I know to draw an arc is to draw a vector circle with the Preset Shape tool preset shape tool (P), and then delete one of the nodes using node edit (choose the Pen tool pen tool (V) and select Edit Mode). To change the line style of the arc, right-click it with the Pick tool pick tool (K), and choose Properties from the context menu to bring up the Vector Property dialog - which includes line style as one of its options.

Here's an arc whose line style was changed to Arrowhead end:

arc with arrowhead end line style
Note: If the Ellipse tool ellipse tool (Q) is used to draw the circle instead of the Preset Shape tool, the process is slightly different. After the circle is drawn, the object must first be converted to a path (right-click and choose Convert to path from the context menu) before invoking node edit.

dot 072 Drawing A Vector Triangle

To draw a vector triangle, choose the Pen tool pen tool (V), Drawing Lines and Polylines mode lines and polylines mode, and CHECK the Connect Segments check box. Then do the following:
  • Click at the first vertex (A).
  • Click at the second vertex (B) to set the first edge of the triangle.
  • Click at the 3rd vertex (C) to set the second edge of the triangle.
  • Click the Close selected open contours button vector shape close button .

The following diagram shows this process - the first side of the triangle is created by clicking at point A and then at point B. The second side of the triangle is created by clicking at point C. The triangle would be completed now by clicking on the Close selected open contours button on the Tool options palette.

drawing a vector triangle

dot 073 Maintaining Aspect Ratio When Resizing Vector Images

To maintain the aspect ratio when resizing vector images, select the image, LEFT-click, and drag from a corner.

dot 074 Creating Text On a Curve

Here are a few basic tips for creating text on a path:

  • Draw vector objects from top left to bottom right to ensure a clockwise path for the contour. To determine the direction of a contour, choose the Pen tool pen tool, select Edit Mode, and select a node on the path:
    • If the node has visible control arms, the arrow points in the direction the path is drawn.
    • If the node does not have visible control arms, press the } key (SHIFT + ]) repeadedly to move from node to node - the direction you traverse the nodes is the direction of the path.

  • To create text on a curved path, enable the Text tool and click on the path when the cursor becomes the Curved Text cursor ( curved text cursor ).

  • To adjust the text either above or below the path, use the Offset parameter in the Text Tool Options palette - use positive offset values to place text above the path, and negative offset values to place text below the path.
    Note: Leading has no effect on the position of text relative to a curve. This was new in PSP 9.

  • To get text to the bottom of a closed curve, activate the Pen tool in Edit mode to select the curve, reverse the contour of the curve (Objects...Edit...Reverse Contour), and then create the text.

  • To edit vector text on a curve, hover over the text until the cursor changes to the Edit Curved Text cursor ( edit text cursor ), and then click on the text.

  • To get "straight" text on a curved filled vector object, press the ALT key while using the Text tool.

  • To fit existing vector text to a path, group the text and path (click on both the text and the path with the Pick tool while pressing the SHIFT key), and then choose Objects...Fit Text to Path. Alternately, right-click the vector object group and choose Fit Text to Path from the context menu.

  • To make the path invisible before saving curved text image, open the Vector Property dialog box for the path, and clear the Visible box, or click the Visibility button of the curve object so that it appears crossed out on the Layers palette ( layer visibility button off ).

  • If the bounding box surrounding the curve is in the way when you go to choose the alignment point for the text on the curve, just remove it - use CTRL + D, or right-click and choose Select None from the context menu. Then click on the curve with your Text tool.

For a detailed explanation of creating text on a path, visit my
Text On A Path in PSP Tutorial.

dot 075 Moving Text On A Curve

You can move the curved text independently of the line it follows. Using the Pick tool pick tool (K), select only the text, and you can move it along the line without moving the line.

Notice the small square icon that moves along the curve as you move the text (see blue arrow in following image) - this icon represents the location where the text will be dropped:

moving text on a curve

If the text is aligned left, that icon represents the left edge of the text; if the text is aligned center, that icon represents the new center of the text; and if the text is aligned right, that icon represents the right edge of the text.

Of course, if you want to move the text and the line, all you have to do is select both the text and the line, and they will still move together.

dot 076 Another Way to Curve Text

If you're not into creating text on a curve, or you just want to curve some text quickly, try the Mesh Warp tool mesh warp tool:

text curved with mesh warp tool

Or the Warp Brush tool warp brush tool:

text curved with warp brush tool

dot 077 Bezier Lines

To draw Bezier lines, used the Pen tool pen tool in Draw Point to Point - Bezier Curves mode:

pen tool options for bezier line

Click at the beginning of the line, and drag to create the control arms. Then click at the endpoint of the line, and drag again. The shape of the curve is determined by the length and direction of each node's control arms. For more information on creating Bezier curves, visit my
Bezier Lines in PSP mini-tutorial.

dot 078 Displaying HTML Color Codes

This tip is especially valuable for tutorial writers. Most of us share colors with our tutorial readers in hexadecimal format, or what we call HTML format - you know, like white is #FFFFFF, and black is #000000. I've always opened the Color dialog to determine the hexadecimal format for colors I wanted to share, until I discovered this tip - just set your preferences up to display colors in hexadecimal format:
  • Choose File...Preferences...General Program Preferences.
  • Click on Palettes in the left window
  • In the "Materials palette" panel, mark both the Display colors in RGB format and Hexadecimal display check boxes.

Then, when you need to get the HTML code for a color you're using in a tutorial, all you have to do is hover over the color with the Dropper tool and the hexadecimal/HTML code will display:

html code html code

The HTML code for the color in the first image is #8EA791, and the code for the second image is #0B562D. If your ToolTips aren't visible, see below.

dot 079 Displaying Color Dropper ToolTips

To display the RGB values for the color under the cursor whenever the Dropper tool is active, choose File...Preferences...General Program Preferences, and click on Display and Caching in the left window. In the "Presentation" panel, mark the Display all color dropper tooltips check box. And remember, the Dropper tool is also available whenever you use any painting or drawing tool if you press the CTRL key. In all these cases, the "Sample size" parameter on the Tool Options palette for the Dropper tool is in effect, and will influence the sample being taken. See
#187 Sampling With the Dropper Tool for more information.

dot 080 Eraser Tool Tips
Using the right mouse button, you can "unerase" using the Eraser tool eraser tool . Comes in handy when you're cleaning up an image for a tube and your mouse "slips". No need to hit the undo button and lose everything you've just done - just "unerase" those pixels back in with the right mouse button. That's right, using the Eraser tool with the right mouse button on a transparent layer reapplies any paint that was previously removed. Technically speaking, unerasing doesn't really reapply paint - it "detransparentizes" what is already there - but you get the picture. This is true even after you close an image and then reopen that image file, as long as the image is saved in a format that preserves layer information, like the PSP format or the PSD format.
Note: If you right-drag the Eraser on a layer, the paint you reapply might look somewhat different than it looked originally. The Eraser's settings for Opacity, Density, or Hardness, and the Textures mode setting can produce different effects from the original. In addition, when a file is closed, everything outside the bounding box of the opaque area is discarded, so unerasing outside this block will produce black. This can be prevented by using the trick described in tip #019 Copying A Layer And Keeping Data In Same Location which would force the bounding box to be the size of the source canvas.

Many of the Eraser tool options help erase smoothly. I especially like the effect produced when reducing the Hardness option down near 0. This allows you to erase around the edges of an object, leaving very soft edges, almost like anti-aliasing.

In versions of PSP before PSP X, using the eraser tool on a flattened image was like painting with the paintbrush in reverse: painting with the left mouse button applied the background material, and painting with the right mouse button applied the foreground material. This was changed in PSP X - using either button in PSP X+2 immediately promotes the background layer to a raster layer, and either erases (left mouse button), or reapplies erased pixels (right mouse button). Though this change might be an unwelcome surprise to many users, it is actually "by design", as most users want to get transparency when they erase.

Shortcut: The keyboard "shortcut" to activate the Eraser tool is "X".

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