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PSP Tips & Tricks
101 - 120


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dot 101 Spatter Brush Effect

To get a "spatter brush" effect using the Airbrush tool, use a round brush tip with Hardness, Step, and Density set at about 25, Opacity about 50, and Blend Mode set to Dissolve.


dot 102 Saving A Tutorial To Your Hard Drive

To save a tutorial from the internet to your hard drive to work offline, open the tutorial, and choose File...Save As. In the Save Web Page dialog, browse to the folder where you want to 'store' the saved tutorial, or create a new folder if you wish, and click the Save button. The tutorial will download in two parts:
  • A file having the name of the tutorial, with an .htm or .html extension.
  • A folder having the same name with '_files' appended, which contains all the images used in the tutorial.

For example, if the title of the tutorial is Mosaic Tile Background, after saving the tutorial to your hard drive, the two parts will look like this (highlighted in green):

saved tutorial in explorer


dot 103 Drop Shadows and Perspective Shadows The Easy Way - With No Plug-Ins

Here's a neat way to get drop shadows and perspective shadows for transparent images without the use of plugins:
  1. Activate the transparent layer you want to create the drop shadow for.
  2. Duplicate this layer, renaming the duplicate layer "Shadow".
  3. With the "Shadow" layer active, choose Adjust...Brightness and Contrast...Brightness/Contrast, and set the Brightness all the way down to -255 (negative 255), which will turn the image black.
  4. Using the Mover tool, drag this image slightly to whichever side you want the shadow on.
  5. Move the "Shadow" layer below the original layer in the Layers palette.
  6. Apply a blur to the shadow using Adjust...Blur...Gaussian Blur. The radius of the blur depends on how you want the shadow to look, but something in the range of 7.00 - 15.00 works well.
  7. Lower the opacity of the "Shadow" layer, as needed. Sometimes, it helps to change the Blend Mode to Hard Light.
  8. If you want a perspective shadow instead of a drop shadow, use the Pick tool to skew the image left or right, depending on where your light is coming from. If you want your shadow to fall in front of the object instead of behind it, flip the shadow before skewing it and move it into place.

This method gives you a tremendous amount of control over the position, thickness, blur, and opacity of your drop and perspective shadows. It's a great alternative to the Drop Shadow effect, and is much easier to use than the Eye Candy perspective shadows.


dot 104 Adding Extrusions to Text or Objects

Here's a quick way to add extrusions to text or objects. Once you have your text or object created, choose Effects...3D Effects...Drop Shadow, and using Horizontal and Vertical Offsets of 1, Opacity of 100, and Blur of 0, add a shadow. Repeat several times until you get the effect you want. Here are a few variations:
To see the extrusion fall down and to the right, set both Horizontal and Vertical Offsets to 1.
saved tutorial in explorer
To see the extrusion fall up and to the right, set the Vertical Offset to -1 (negative 1) and the Horizontal Offset to 1.
saved tutorial in explorer
To see the extrusion fall down and to the left, set the Vertical Offset to 1 and the Horizontal Offset to -1 (negative 1) .
saved tutorial in explorer
To see the extrusion fall up and to the left, set both Vertical and Horizontal Offsets to -1 (negative 1).
saved tutorial in explorer

Use a contrasting color for interesting extrusions. Check the Shadow on new layer check box if you want to manipulate the shadows.

To apply the repeated drop shadows without revisiting the Drop Shadow dialog each time, click the REPEAT icon repeat icon. I have this icon on my standard toolbar for easy access. Or use the REPEAT keyboard shortcut, CTRL + Y.

Here's some gradient text with an extrusion out to the left. For this one, I used a Vertical Offset of 0 and a Horizontal Offset of 1, repeating the shadow five times:

extruded text


dot 105 Scripting - What's It All About?

Scripting is one of the wonderful new features introduced in PSP 8. It's a terrific tool to automate tasks that you want repeated on multiple images. It saves you the trouble of doing all the steps by hand every time. Nearly everything you do in PSP can be recorded into a script and played back later. For further information, visit my
Recording a Simple Script in PSP Tutorial.


dot 106 Running Scripts in Batch Mode

Say you've written a script that makes some modification to an image, and you want to apply that same modification to many images, even hundreds of images. Can that be done? Sure can. Just use the File...Batch Process command. In the Batch Process dialog, you'll be able to choose the files you want processed, the script you want to run against them, how you want them saved, the folder to place the processed files in, and even the name to give the processed files. This is a very powerful command.

Depending on your settings in the Batch Process dialog, this command can also be used to make copies of files or convert files from one format to another.

WARNING: Scripts used in Batch Process cannot contain "FileOpen" commands. The Batch Process handles all file opens, opening files consecutively from the list of selected files. If the script also opens a file, things get muddled and PSP loses track of what's happening and "hangs". Processing stalls on the "FileOpen" command and no further processing occurs. You'll need the Task Manager to get you out of trouble if you have the misfortune of trying to execute a script that contains a FILEOPEN command in Batch Process.

There are ways around the problem. For example, if you want to apply a watermark to several hundred images, open the watermark file before you start the Batch Process and copy it (CTRL + C) to place it on the clipboard. Then your script will not need to open that file - instead, it can just paste the watermark (which has been copied to the clipboard) into each of the selected files in Batch Process.


dot 107 Batch Rename Process

There's also a Batch Rename process available by choosing the File...Batch Rename command. This command lets you rename groups of files, choosing the original name and/or several qualifiers, such as date (9 formats), time (4 formats), sequence number (you choose starting number), and custom text. Using this command, you can rename an entire batch of photos, giving them meaningful names. DCP_4901.jpg through DCP_4980.jpg can become flowers01_September2006.jpg through flowers80_September2006.jpg.


dot 108 Gridmaker Script

The Gridmaker script provided with PSP 8 and PSP 9 allows you to add a new layer to your image which contains a grid at the pixel spacing you specify, using the Foreground material for the grid. Unlike grids and guides that are only temporary, this grid can become a permanent part of your image. It's created on a separate layer, so can be hidden, or even deleted, if no longer needed.
Note: This script, which imports the TKinter module, does not work in early versions of PSP X3, but was finally rectifid. Be sure you apply all PSP X3 patches to make scripts with TKinter work!


dot 109 Prompting the User for Materials In A Script

Many times, when you're creating a script, you want to prompt the user for materials during that script. To do this, insert this code at the beginning of the script:

foreground material message box

This code causes a Message Box to pop up - the text in the Message Box is highlighted in yellow above. The 'true' at the end of the line highlighted in pink makes this the foreground material. The name given to this material, Material1 (which will be used later in the script) is highlighted in blue.

Similar code can be inserted for obtaining the background material:

background material message box

The text that will appear in the message box is highlighted in yellow. Note the line highlighted in pink - the 'false' at the end of this line ensures this will be the background material. Again, the name given to this material, Material2, is highlighted in blue.

In the code where the material is to be used, insert the name you gave the color - highlighted in blue above. In the following example for the Flood Fill tool, the foreground material, or Material1, will be used - it, too, is highlighted in blue:

script with user-chosen material

If you need more than two different materials in your script, just insert the same Message Box code where you want to ask for more input, using different names (blue highlight) for the results.

Note: The code shown above will work in all versions of Paint Shop Pro. PSP 9 introduced a simpler way of coding the 'true' and 'false' conditions, but as there are still many using PSP 8, I recommend making all scripting code PSP 8-compatible, as much as possible.


dot 110 Move Errors in Scripts

Sometimes a script fails with a Runtime Error in a Mover step. This usually occurs when the image or tube you are using in your execution of the script does not have any pixels at the exact location the Move tool is being applied. When the script was recorded, the author used the Move tool to relocate an item, and the "spot" where the Move tool was applied is recorded as part of the script. Your tube is perhaps smaller than the authorís, or skinnier, or there are spaces in the image, so that there are no pixels at the spot where the Move tool is being applied. The script fails with a strange message: "The layer select tuple does not reference a valid target".

The easiest way to prevent this error is to code 'SelectPoint': None, in the Mover step - this way, it will not matter where the image is on the layer, because the entire layer will be moved. This is equivalent to holding down the SHIFT key when using the Move tool to move a layer, which always moves the active layer, no matter where you click with the Move tool.


dot 111 Using the Single Step Command

The Single Step command was introduced in PSP 9 and is a very powerful command. Accessed by choosing File...Script...Single Step, this command provides a way to sequentially step through a script's actions, allowing you to selectively apply actions to the current image. Once you have toggled on the Single Step mode, when a script is run, the Step Script dialog appears, listing the script's name and the step the script is about to execute:

script single step dialog

The user can do any of the following:

  • Click Continue to apply the command to the image and move on to the next command in the script.
  • Click Skip Command to skip this particular command, and instead move on to the next command in the script.
  • Click Stop Scripts to cancel this operation and close the Step Script dialog.
Note: Paint Shop Pro remains in Script Single Step mode until you toggle off this command.

I have found this command so handy when debugging and testing scripts that I have placed an icon for it on my Script toolbar, so it's right there handy when I need it.


dot 112 Script Termination Messages

At the termination of every script run in PSP, a message is generated in the SOP. If the script completes with no errors, that message will say:
Script 'xxxxxxx' has completed successfully.

where xxxxxxx is the name of the script. If there was any problem encountered during the execution of the script, that message will say

Script 'xxxxxxx' has completed with an error.


dot 113 Removing Undone Commands from Scripts

In PSP, the user can remove all "undone" steps from a script before saving it. This is done using the Remove Undone Commands checkbox on the script Save As dialog. Mark this check box (it is marked by default) to remove undone commands in the script. Uncheck this box if you want to include the undone commands in the script, along with all the Undo steps.
Note: Be aware that when you UNcheck this box, the undone commands will be active (not undone) when the script is executed. Each of them will be executed, followed immediately by the Undo step that followed them when the script was recorded. Hence, leaving this box checked is probably the best option.


dot 114 Using the History Palette To Create Scripts

The History palette, introduced in PSP 9, lists each command you apply to the active image, with the most recent action appearing at the top of the list. The History palette gives you the ability to quickly undo and redo actions applied to the current image.

One of the powerful and convenient features of the History palette is that it allows you to selectively choose steps applied to an image and save those steps as a Quickscript. You can then apply the Quickscript to another image (or to the current image). The Quickscript is saved to a file called QuickScriptTemp.PspScript, and resides in the user Scripts-Trusted folder (in My PSP Files, in the default installation). If the History palette is wide enough, the Save Quickscript button (save quickscript button) can be seen along the top of the palette. If it is not there, click on the "More Buttons" double arrow on the right edge of the palette to see additional options:

history palette
Note: Be aware that there is only one Quickscript; each time you select History palette commands and click the Save Quickscript button, the previously saved Quickscript is overwritten.

The History palette also allows the user to save selected commands to the clipboard to be pasted into scripts. To use this option, select the steps or actions you wish to save to the clipboard, and right-click to activate the History Context Menu. Choose Copy to Clipboard to copy the saved commands to the clipboard. These commands can then be pasted into a script as needed, or used to build a "snippets" library of commands for future use.

The History palette will also allow the user to save selected commands to a script. Choosing this option opens the script Save As dialog, where you can supply the name for the script, as well as Description information.


dot 115 Starting PSP With A Custom Workspace

To start PSP with a custom workspace, double-click on the workspace file. To make this even easier, create a shortcut to the saved workspace file and use it to start PSP.


dot 116 Removing Dark Edges From An Image

To remove dark edges from an image, lock layer transparency and then shove the dark off using the Push Brush tool. The Push Brush tool will push the dark edges off the image into oblivion, as locking the layer transparency prevents any pixels from being written to transparent areas. You will need to adjust the Push Brush tool settings for your particular image. Cool trick!
Note: The pixels that are "pushed into oblivion" are not really totally lost. They appear to be invisible because they have been pushed into the transparent area. However, these pixels can be recovered by unlocking transparency and unerasing.


dot 117 Colorizing a Black and White Image

If you have a black and white image that you want to colorize, the Colorize command won't work, as it needs color information to work on. Try adding a layer to the image, filling the layer with the color you want to colorize to, and change the Blend Mode on that layer to Multiply or Darken. Then you can use the Opacity slider to change the intensity of the color.


dot 118 Determining Version of PSP That's Running From a Script

If you are creating a script that has version-dependent code, and you need to run different code based on the version of PSP that's running, you can use the GetVersionInfo command to determine the PSP version currently executing. Insert the following code at the point in your script where you need to determine the version number:
# GetVersionInfo
Version = App.Do(Environment, 'GetVersionInfo')

The version information is contained in a dictionary that is in this format:

{'BuildType': u'Released', 'MinorVersion': 0, 'MajorVersion': 12, 'MicroVersion': 0, 'BuildNumber': u''20070828.18', 'VersionString': u'12.00', 'Program': u'Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2'}

Therefore, to extract the version information, use the MajorVersion key, like this:

Version['MajorVersion']

Then use the "if-else" structure to execute the appropriate code. An example would be the Text command in PSP 8 that was replaced by the TextEx command in PSP 9 and later versions:

if Version['MajorVersion'] == 8:
    # Text
    App.Do( Environment, 'Text', {
        .
        .
        .
else:
    # Text
    App.Do( Environment, 'TextEx', {
        .
        .
        .

If it is necessary to identify the version down to the minor and micro versions, the VersionString key can be used instead:

Version['VersionString']


dot 119 Setting Background or Foreground Material to Transparent (Null)

If you want to set either Background or Foreground Material to transparent, but the Transparent button is greyed out in the Materials palette, try switching to a non-painting tool first. Not all tools support transparency - in particular, the painting tools will not permit a transparent material. Switching to a tool that does support transparency will re-activate the Transparent button.


dot 120 Manipulating Single Letters/Characters of Vector Text

If you want to change the size or characteristics of some vector text characters, but leave the rest unchanged, you can do the following (be aware that when using this method, the characters are changed to individual images and can no longer be manipulated as "text"):
  • Create the text in vector format.
  • Select the text using the Pick tool pick tool (K) (in pre-PSP X versions of PSP, use the Object Seletion tool).
  • Choose Objects...Convert Text to Curves...As Character Shapes.
  • Choose Objects...Ungroup.
  • With the Pick tool (Object Selector tool) active, select the character to modify in the Layers palette, and then use the bounding box to reshape the character.

If you want to change the size of some characters while retaining the text properties of the text, you can do the following:

  • Create the text in vector format.
  • Activate the Text Entry box for the text (or the actual text on the image in PSP X3+) using one of the following methods:
    • Click on the text with the Text tool when it changes to the "edit text cursor"edit text cursor, OR
    • Right-click on the text object sublayer in the Layers palette and choose Edit Text, OR
    • Double-click on the text object sublayer in the Layers palette.
  • Select the character(s) to modify in the Text Entry box (or directly on the text in PSP X3+).
  • Change the Tool Options parameters or Materials palette materials for the selected character(s).


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