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PSP Tips & Tricks
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dot 181 Turning WMF Files Into PSP Shape Files

Here's a method that will allow you to save .WMF files as shape libraries in PSP:
  1. Open the wmf file in PSP.
    Note: Be sure you have 'Import vector data' and 'Apply dmoothing' checked in Preferences (File...Preferences...File Format Preferences, on the Metafile/Import tab). If the vector objects edges are still jagged when the shape file is imported, see notes after the next step.
  2. With the Pick tool (Object Selector tool), select all objects in the image by clicking at (0,0) in the upper left corner and dragging all the way to the lower right corner. In the Layers palette, all objects comprising the image should now be selected.
    Note: Sometimes not all objects comprising an image are selected using this method. If an object is not completely surrounded by the Pick tool selection rectangle, it will not be included. Any missing objects can be added to the selection by holding down the SHIFT key and clicking on the object name in the Layers palette.

    If the objects still have jagged edges, once all objects are selected, right-click, choose Properties and check Anti-alias.

  3. In the Layers palette, right-click on any of the selected sublayers, or objects.
  4. Choose Group from the context menu - this will add a new sublayer called Group 1 just below the Vector 1 layer.
  5. Rename the Group 1 layer to what you want to call the shape - this will be the name that will show up when you use the Preset Shape tool.
  6. Choose File...Export...Shape to export the shape library.
    Note: It doesn't matter what name you use in the 'Enter file name' in the Export Shape Library dialog. This is just the file name and not the name that will appear in your shapes list (the name you used when you renamed the Group 1 layer is the name of the Preset Shape that will appear in your shapes list). However, it is an excellent practice to make these names match.

To retain the colors from the original image, ensure that 'Retain style' is checked on the Tool Options palette. And that's all there is to it.

dot 182 Brush Tips, Presets, Options, and Variance

(A Brushes 101 Article Contributed by Fred Hiltz)

Paint Shop Pro brushes come in two kinds: those that work on raster layers and those that work on art media layers. In this article we are concerned only with the raster-layer brushes; specifically with how to set their many options to get the behavior that you want. These brushes are:

  • Airbrush
  • Background Eraser
  • Burn
  • Change to Target
  • Clone
  • Color Replacer
  • Dodge
  • Emboss
  • Eraser
  • Hue Up/Down
  • Lighten/Darken
  • Paint Brush
  • Push
  • Saturation Up/Down
  • Sharpen
  • Smudge
  • Soften

Please open a new image of 300 x 300 pixels, white raster background. The discussion to follow will make more sense with this image and two palettes in view. The Tool Options palette lacks room for all the brush options. The less well known Brush Variance palette contains more, some of which may surprise you. To make these palettes visible, press F4 and F11 respectively.

Our purpose is not to describe the individual options--Help does an adequate job of that--but to explain how they are collected into brush presets and brush tips, and how these collections interact.

  1. Brush Presets

    Like most tools and dialogs in PSP, brushes have presets: named collections of options that you can pick from a list to quickly set many of the options for a brush. PSP comes with several presets and you can make your own.

    Presets that come with PSP contain settings for all the options on the Tool Options palette and all the options on the Brush Variance palette. When you create a preset, however, you may choose to omit any of the settings. When you save your preset, click the Options button to see the "Preset includes" pane, where you can click an option's diskette icon, marking it with a red X to omit it. (Note: you get just this one chance to omit an option in this way. You can, however, edit the script that implements it at any time.) What becomes of an omitted option? That story gets its own chapter later.

    PSP implements presets as scripts stored in files with the PspScript extension. To see the options in the script, find the presets folder with File > Preferences > File Locations > Presets. Open a script file with Notepad.

    A preset applies to just one tool, the one for which it was created.

  2. Brush Tips

    A brush tip is another named collection of options that you can pick from a list. Brush tips differ from brush presets in several ways.

    A brush tip:

    • applies to any raster brush tool;
    • cannot set some options on the Tool Options palette;
    • does not let you select which options to include;
    • comprises two files: a tip image and an options script.

    A brush tip can set all of the options shown on the Brush Variance palette and the following options from the Tool Options palette: Shape, Size, Hardness, Step, Density, Thickness, and Rotation. Although you cannot choose individual options to include or omit, you can elect to include all the Brush Variance options or none of them.

    The shape of a tip may be one of the standard shapes (round or square) or it may be a custom shape. In the latter case, PSP saves that shape as a greyscale image in a file with the PspBrush extension along with the PspScript file that stores the options. Find their folder with File > Preferences > File Locations > Brushes.

  3. Creating and Sharing Brush Tips

    PSP provides three ways to create a custom brush tip:

    1. File > Export > Custom Brush creates a brush tip from the active image (up to 999 x 999 pixels size), using the greyscale values of the image. The darker the image, the stronger the brush impression will be.
    2. "Create brush tip," a button on the brush tips drop-list in the Tool Options palette, creates a brush tip modified from the current brush tip. Double click a brush tip to make it current, adjust the brush options to suit, then return to the list and click this button.
    3. "Create brush tip from selection," another button on the brush tips drop-list in the Tool Options palette, creates a brush tip from the selected portion of the image. When no selection is present, PSP uses the entire image, equivalent to method a.

    "Export > Custom Brush" is a bad name for method a. It exports nothing. In fact, all three methods write the tip's files in the "Save to" folder specified in File > Preferences > File Locations > Brushes.

    To export your brush, you need to send one or two files. Look in the "Save to" folder with Windows Explorer for a file named "BrushTip_xxxxxxx.PspScript" where xxxxxxx is the name of the tip. Look also for the custom brush shape file named something like "xxxxxxx.PspBrush." (This file is absent when a tip uses one of the standard shapes, round or square).

    WARNING: PSP sometimes, but not always, generates duplicates of the PspBrush file with similar names, which may not be exactly the same as the name of the companion PspScript file. When there is any doubt, open the PspScript file in Notepad or another text editor and find the name of the correct shape file to export. It appears in a line beginning with 'CustomBrush'.

    To import a brush tip, copy the PspScript file and the associated PspBrush file, if any, into any convenient folder. File > Import > Custom Brush. Click Open and browse to the folder where you put the new files. You should see the PspBrush file there. Select it and continue the Import Custom Brush dialog, which copies the files into the "Save to" folder specified in File > Preferences > File Locations > Brushes.

    WARNING: Several brush tips can share a single PspBrush shape file. When you try to import one whose shape file is already present, PSP objects. Likewise, you cannot import a tip that uses the standard round or square shape, as it has no PspBrush file. In these cases, do it "by hand:" Use Windows Explorer to copy the PspScript file and, if present, the PspBrush file into the "Save to" folder specified in File > Preferences > File Locations > Brushes. Exit PSP and restart PSP. The new tips will appear in the drop-list.

  4. Variance

    Default is not normal.

    Huh? That meaningless sentence is intended to draw your attention to the confusing labels and names in the Brush Variance palette. Let's translate them into more useful terms.

    "Option" is not a bad label, indicating what PSP option will be varied by your choice of setting. Color blend, Hue, Saturation, and Lightness refer to the Materials palette. The others refer to the Tool Options palette. "Color blend" is a misnomer that should be "Material blend," referring to how the blend of foreground material and background material varies with your choice of setting.

    "Setting" is easier to understand as "Is varied by." Read, for example, "Size is varied by pressure." The choices marked with asterisks are hardware tablet controls. Others are little demons inside PSP that make an option fade in, fade out, vary with direction, etc.

    "Normal" has nothing to do with what you, I, or the Corel designer consider to be normal. It means "none" or "nothing." Pick this setting to prevent variation of an option by any control. Read, for example, "Hue is varied by nothing." Note, however, that a non-zero Jitter will still make the option vary randomly.

    There are three ways to get the PSP default settings. To default just the variance options, select the brush tip named +Default or click the curved arrow on the Brush variance palette. To default all the options on the Tool Options palette as well, click the curved arrow in the Presets drop-list.

    The default settings are Normal for all but Size, whose default is Pressure. If you used PSP 9, which defaults to Normal for size as well, this may surprise you.

    Default is not normal.

  5. Who Wins?

    Given all the ways to change a brush's options, which ones work when? Does a preset override a brush tip or vice versa? End the confusion by learning how PSP handles each method of change. PSP stores the settings in the Windows registry under a separate key for each raster brush.

    1. When you pick a preset from the drop-list, PSP copies its settings into the registry, excepting those settings that you marked to omit when you saved the preset.
    2. When you pick a brush tip from its drop-list, PSP copies its settings into the registry, excepting the Brush Variance settings if you chose not to include them when you saved the brush tip. PSP also copies the tip shape--round, square, or custom--into the registry.
    3. The Tool Options palette and the Brush Variance palette always show the registry values for the current raster brush tool. When you alter any setting in those palettes, PSP changes the registry to match.
    4. Whenever you fetch a raster brush tool, PSP gets its settings from the registry, even after exiting and restarting PSP.

    In short, the last to save is the winner.

dot 183 Using Plugins in PSP

PSP can use most Photoshop-compatible plugin filters. However, several filters require the installation of two additional files into your WINDOWS SYSTEM folder before they will work. These files are:
  • msvcrt10.dll and
  • plugin.dll.

Though msvcrt10.dll is widely available, plugin.dll is the property of Adobe, and is typically installed with Adobe products. These files are installed in different places, depending on your Windows version:

  • WINDOWS 98 or WINDOWS ME - install these files in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM folder.
  • WINDOWS 2000 - these files go into the C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32 folder.
  • WINDOWS XP - install these files in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 folder.
  • WINDOWS VISTA - install these files in the C:\WINDOWS folder.
  • WINDOWS 7 - install these files in the C:\WINDOWS\SysWOW64 folder.

dot 184 Using Alpha Channels

An alpha channel is merely a storage area within a PSP image, a special area for the storage of selections and/or masks! An alpha channel saves information (about a mask or selection you've created) as a greyscale bitmap within the image. PSP can store up to 99 alpha channels with an image, an increase from the limit of 24 in PSP 7. When you try to save the 100th selection or mask, the Save Selection to alpha Channel option will be greyed out. You will have to delete an existing alpha channel before adding another.

Alpha channels are very handy and give more precise results than using the Magic Wand tool to get selections. They are particularly useful on irregular shapes, complex selections, and any selection that has had antialias applied to smooth the edges. Another really cool thing about using alpha channels is they're available whenever you open the PSP image in which you saved them. And they're not only available to the image that contains them, but to any other image open in the PSP workspace at the same time! It's like a mask/selection lending library!

When you save the image in PSP format, the alpha channels are saved with the image, and will be available when you open the image again! If you save the image in JPEG or GIF format, and do not save it in PSP format, when you close the image, the channels and all the information they contained are gone forever! Zippo! Disappeared! All your work down the drain! So, if you go to the trouble to retain information in those alpha channels, save the image in PSP format! Incidentally, the PSP format is the only format, to my knowledge, that allows the user to save information in multiple alpha channels!

To save a selection to an alpha channel, choose Selections...Load/Save Selection...Save Selection to Alpha Channel to open the Save Selection to Alpha dialog box. The Add to Document panel contains the image name in the "Add to document" drop-list. Below the image name is a drop-list of all alpha channels in the document, if there are any. The Name panel contains the default name for the alpha channel - type a new name in the "Name" edit box to change this name. The Preview panel shows a preview of the selection being saved. Click the Save button to save the selection to the alpha channel.

To load a selection from an alpha channel, activate the layer on which you want to place the selection, and then choose Selections...Load/Save Selection...Load from Alpha Channel to open the Load From Alpha dialog box. To load a selection from the active image, leave the current image name in the "Load from document" box. To load a selection from another open image, use the "Load from document" drop-list to find the image, and highlight its file name. Then, in the drop-list below the document name, choose the alpha channel that contains the selection you want to load.

Note that the Load Selection From Alpha dialog allows you to either replace any current selection, add the selection in the alpha channel to the current selection, or subtract the selection in the alpha channel from the current selection. This might be useful in building selections of particular shapes.

To delete a selection that has been saved to an alpha channel in the active image, choose Image...Delete Alpha Channel. This opens the Delete Alpha Channel dialog. Select the alpha channel (selection) that you want to delete from the Alpha channel drop-list, or mark the "Delete all alpha channels" check box, and click the Delete button.

dot 185 Making Shapes Specific Sizes

When you draw a selection using the Selection tool, or a shape using one of the shape tools (Preset Shape, Rectangle, Ellipse, or Symmetric Shape) the Info Tab of the Overview palette provides some valuable information. Let's look at the Selection tool. When you begin drawing a selection, several numbers appear on the palette:

overview palette - selection tool

Look at the boxed entries at the bottom of the palette. The first of these, called Upper Left, contains the coordinates of the upper left corner of the selection. The second, called Lower Right, indicates the coordinates of the lower right corner of the selection. Either one or both of these sets of numbers will continue to change until you stop moving the cursor. The third pair of numbers, called Size, represents the actual dimensions of the selection expressed as width by height. This, too, will change as you move your cursor. Finally, the last number is the aspect ratio of the selection, which is derived by dividing the width by the height.

Note:If the selection is not a square or rectangle, the values in the Overview palette represent the corners and dimensions of an imaginary rectangle surrounding the selection, called the "bounding box" of the selection:

selection bounding box

The above screen shot was taken as I made an elliptical selection. I've added the Overview palette from the same screen shot so you can see the values. I also drew in the "bounding box" of the selection in red - this rectangle represents the smallest rectangle that fully surrounds the selection. Note that the Upper Left value from the Overview palette represents the upper left corner of the bounding box (green arrow). Likewise, the Lower Right value represents the lower right corner of the bounding box (red arrow). I've left the rulers in the screen shot, so you can see that those values truly belong to the bounding box.

The same information seen in the Overview palette is also reflected on the right end of the status bar at the bottom of your screen:

selection tool status bar

In this case, the first pair of coordinates indicates the upper left corner of the selection and the second pair indicates the coordinates of the lower right corner of the selection. The equal sign is followed by the size of the selection, width x height, followed by the aspect ratio (in square brackets) rounded off to 3 decimal places.

The Overview palette provides similar information when you draw shapes using either the Rectangle, Ellipse, or Symmetric Shape tool. Here's a screen shot or the Overview palette for the Rectangle tool:

overview palette - rectangle tool

Strangely enough, the aspect ratio is not shown in the Overview palette, but it does show on the right end of the Status bar at the bottom of your screen when any of these tools is used.

Finally, when the Preset Shape tool is used to draw a shape, the Overview palette looks like this:

overview palette - presetshape tool

You'll notice the format is a little different here, with Start pos and End pos instead of Upper Left and Lower Right, and Width Height rather than Size. It's the same information - just different names used to identify it. Again, the aspect ratio is not provided in the Overview palette. Nor is it shown on the right end of the status bar, which provides color information. Instead, this information is provided on the the LEFT end of the status bar at the bottom of your screen. Here's the left end of the status bar captured at the same time as the above Overview palette:

preset shape tool status bar

dot 186 Saving Transparency In TGA Files

Transparency can be saved in TGA files by making a mask from the image opacity, storing it in an alpha channel, and deleting the mask (no merge). This might be a helpful for those who use TGA files for games or rendering.

Here's the process:

  1. Choose Layers...New Mask Layer...From Image. Choose Source Opacity with Invert Mask Data unchecked. Ignore the slight change in the appearance of your image. This step will copy your image transparency to a mask.
  2. Choose Layers...Load/Save Mask...Save Mask To Alpha Channel. The name you use doesn't matter. This step places the mask data in the alpha channel, which in turn means that a copy of the original image transparency ends up stored in the alpha channel.
  3. In the Layers palette, right-click on the mask layer and choose Delete from the context menu that appears. Answer "No" to the dialog which asks "Would you like this mask merged into the layer below it?". This step gets rid of the mask, which was just a temporary intermediary for placing a copy of the transparency in the alpha channel.
  4. Choose File...Save As. Select Truevision Targa (*.tga) as the save type. Press the Options button and make sure the Bit Depth is specified as 24 bits. For greatest compatibility specify Uncompressed. Then go ahead and save the file.

dot 187 Color Sampling In PSP

There are many instance in which the Dropper tool is used to sample colors from images. This can occur when other tools are active, and/or when dialogs with color boxes are active. However, the way that sampling is done is not always the same, and often depends on the 'Sample size' parameter previously set for the Dropper tool on its Tool Options toolbar, regardless of the active tool or dialog. Here's what I've discovered:
  1. PSP samples using the square set by the Dropper 'Sample size' in the Dropper tool Tool Options palette in the following cases:
    • The Dropper tool is active and is being used for the sampling.
    • Sampling is being done by using the CTRL key + a painting tool (Paint Brush, Flood Fill, Eraser, etc.).
    • Sampling is being done from within the Material Properties dialog.
    • Simple sampling (without the CTRL key pressed) is being done from Effects and Adjustments dialogs that have color boxes.
  2. PSP samples a single pixel, ignoring the Dropper 'Sample size' in the Dropper tool Tool Options palette in the following cases:
    • CTRL key sampling from the Materials palette Materials or Color boxes.
    • CTRL key sampling from Effects and Adjustments color boxes.
    • Smart Photo Fix (Advanced Options) sampling within the left preview pane.
    • Color Balance (Advanced Options) sampling within the left preview pane.
    • CTRL key sampling from the color boxes in the Vector Property dialog.

This explains why sometimes when you sample from an image, you don't get the color that's under the sampling dropper, which can be very frustrating. Depending on what tool is active, what dialog is being used, and whether or not you are doing CTRL key sampling, you might be getting an average of a group of pixels rather than the single pixel beneath the sampling dropper. If you are using any of the methods listed in #1 above, whether you were aiming for a larger-than-a-single-pixel sample or not, that's what you'll be getting. The "cure" is to set the Dropper tool 'Sample size' to 1 Pixel. Hopefully, in a future release of PSP, this sampling inconsistency will be corrected so that all sampling (other than that done directly with the Dropper tool) will be for the single pixel below the sampling dropper.

dot 188 Moving/Adjusting the Crop Area Rectangle

Once the crop area rectangle has been added to an image, it can be moved by dragging on one of the handles:
  • To move any of the sides, click and drag the handle on that side - the cursor becomes a double-headed arrow crop side mover cursor.
    Note: In PSP X2 and PSP X3, it is necessary to drag the handle to move the side of the crop area rectangle. This is a change from previous versions of PSP, where dragging anywhere on the side moved the side. In PSP X2 and PSP X3, if you drag anywhere else on the side other than the handle, the entire crop rectangle will move. This was "fixed" in PSP X4 with the first service pack. Thank heavens!
  • To move the entire crop rectangle, click and drag anywhere within the crop area rectangle - the cursor becomes a four-headed move arrow crop rectangle mover cursor.
  • To constrain the crop area to it's current proportions, check the "Maintain aspect ratio" check box on the Tool Options palette.

You can also move the crop area rectangle in increments using the arrow keys. The process is similar to that for moving selections or vector objects, with this exception - you first choose how you want the crop area rectangle to be moved by clicking one of the crop area rectangle handles:

  • To move the entire crop area rectangle, click the center handle.
  • To move one of the sides, click the edge handle on that side.
  • To move either of two connecting sides, click the corner handle shared by those two sides.

Once you've selected a handle to guide your moving, the process is the same as moving selections or vector objects:

  • To move the crop area rectangle (or a side of the crop area rectangle) one pixel, press any arrow key.
  • To move the crop area rectangle (or a side of the crop area rectangle) 10 pixels, hold down CTRL and press any arrow key.
  • To move the crop area rectangle (or a side of the crop area rectangle) 50 pixels, hold down SHIFT and press any arrow key.
  • To move the crop area rectangle (or a side of the crop area rectangle) 100 pixels, hold down SHIFT and CTRL and press any arrow key.
    Note: The handle you choose or make active governs which arrow keys "work". For example, if you choose the edge handle on the right side of the crop area rectangle, the left and right arrow keys will move that side, but the up and down arrow keys will have no effect at all. However, if you choose the top corner handle on the right side of the crop area rectangle, the left and right arrow keys will move the right side left and right, and in addition, the up and down keys will move the top of the crop area rectangle up and down.

One additional caution - if the "Maintain aspect ratio" check box is selected, the moving process for the crop area rectangle is slightly altered. Even though you choose the edge handle on a particular side, when you click and drag that handle (or use the arrow keys to move that side) you will see movement of the crop area rectangle not only along that side, but also along both adjoining sides as well. This is necessary in order to maintain the aspect ratio of the original crop area rectangle. If you want to constrain the movement of the crop area rectangle to only one of the adjoining sides, choose the corner handle adjoining those sides rather than the edge handle on that side before you click and drag (or use the arrow keys to move) that side.

dot 189 Copying and Pasting Won't Work Anymore

When suddenly your Copy and Paste functions no longer work in PSP, check to see that you do not have any web pages open that prevent copying of images. This will actually prevent copying and pasting in PSP. If this happens to you, close all web pages and try the copy or paste function again in PSP. It will probably work.

dot 190 Training Videos

Several releases of PSP came with fabulous training videos. For some releases of PSP, the training videos are included on the installation CD for those who purchased a boxed version. Many of the training videos can also be obtained from the Corel site:

dot 191 Other Training Video Tutorials

There are some other interesting video tutorials available on the Corel site

dot 192 Where to Find Corel's PSP Documentation

Corel has a lot of documentation available for PSP, including the Scripting API and the Scripting for Script Authors document. This material can be found
HERE. Though some of that documentation might seem outdated, the Command API has not been updated since PSP XI, and the Scripting for Script Authors document has not been updated since PSP X.

dot 193 Repositioning Toolbars and Palettes - and Docking Issues

First of all, the docking of palettes is governed by settings in Preferences. If you do not want a palette to dock at any time, remove the check from the checkbox for that palette in Preferences...General Program Preferences, on the Palettes tab (or choose View...Docking Options to get the same dialog). If you want to temporarily disable docking for a palette without changing Preferences, hold down the CTRL key while dragging the palette to its new position. This will allow you to place the palette anywhere, even near the edge of the workspace, without it snapping into a docked position.

There is no comparable control in Preferences for toolbars, which dock automatically whenever they are dragged to the edges of the workspace. To prevent this from occurring, hold down the CTRL key while dragging the toolbar.

For a quick way to UNdock (or float) a docked toolbar or palette, double-click on its handle or title bar (you'll get the four-sided mover icon) - it will undock, and return to its last undocked position. To quickly dock an undocked toolbar or dockable palette, double-click on its title bar - it will dock to the top of the workspace, or its last docked position.

Note:: The handle size and position (toolbars) vary, depending on the size of the toolbar and whether it is vertical or horizontal. Here's what the "handle" looks like for my horizontally-docked Script toolbar using the Graphite Workspace Theme, enlarged to 300% for easier viewing:

script toolbar handle

And here's the same handle without the Graphite Workspace Theme enabled:

script toolbar handle

dot 194 Maintaining Aspect Ratio When Resizing Selections or Layers

To maintain the aspect ratio when resizing layers, use the Pick tool (K) (or the Raster Deform tool, still available in PSP using its shortcut key, D), LEFT-click, and drag from a corner. To maintain the aspect ratio when resizing selections, activate Edit Selection (Selections...Edit Selection) and using the Pick tool (or the Raster Deform tool), LEFT-click, and drag from a corner.
Note: In versions before PSP X, this function was available by right-clicking.

dot 195 Using the "All Tools" Checkbox on the Materials Palette

When the "All Tools" checkbox on the Materials palette is checked, all tools will use the same materials. For example, if the Materials palette has red for the Foreground color, and Blue for the background color, no matter which tool is selected, those colors will be there. When the "All Tools" checkbox is UNchecked, each tool can have its own material settings, and when you change from tool to tool, the "last used" materials will appear in the Materials palette.
Note: This checkbox is "grayed out" if the active tool does not use colors, like the Pan tool, or the Picture Tube tool.

dot 195 Merging an Image Into the Background

When you want to merge the edges of your image into the background, follow these 6 easy steps:
  • Set your background color to the color of the background you want to merge into.
  • Select the image (Selections...Select All, or CTRL + A).
  • Contract the selection by 10-15 pixels (Selections...Modify...Contract).
  • Feather the selection by 10-15 pixels (Selections...Modify...Feather).
  • Invert selection (Selections...Invert or CTRL + SHIFT + I).
  • Hit the delete key, repeating if necessary.

dot 196 Changing the Angle of A Selection

To change the angle of a selection, choose Selections...Edit Selection - the selection will appear as a ruby overlay. Activate the Pick tool (or Raster Deform tool). For precise control of the angle of the selection, use the Angle parameter on the Tool Options palette. To rotate the selection in 15-degree increments, press the SHIFT key while dragging the rotation handle (the square connected by a line to the rotation pivot point):

deform or pick tool rotation

When you have finished rotating the selection, choose Selections...Edit Selection again to display the selection marquee.

dot 197 The BrushWrangler Script

Joe Fromm has written a script called BrushWrangler that aids in managing a collection of brushes. Here is Joe's explanation of the BrushWrangler script, paraphrased from the comments within the script:
This script aids in managing a collection of brushes. A custom brush consists of two files - a .PspBrush file which contains the actual brush impression, and a .PspScript file which contains the parameters used by brush:
  • .PspBrush files are images, and can be viewed in the browser. A single .PspBrush file can be referenced by any number of .PspScript files. In the BrushWrangler script, the .PspBrush file is referred to as the brush tip file.
  • .PspScript files are Python code, and (among other things) contain the name of the associated PspBrush file (the .PspScript file could also reference the standard round/square brushes, but that is not relevant here). In the BrushWrangler script, the .PspScript file is referred to as the brush settings file.

Brush tool presets are also .PspScript files, but are named differently and live in a different directory. Unlike a brush settings file, a tool preset is tied to a particular tool (airbrush, paintbrush, eraser, etc.). However, since a tool preset is a superset of a brush settings file, they can in some ways take the place of a brush settings file.

The brush dropdown on the tool options palette is populated by reading the brush settings file, so if a brush tip file is not referenced by any brush setting file the tip is essentially orphaned since the user has no way of selecting it (save by possibly a tool preset, which is only good for that tool). Conversely, a brush settings file or tool preset that references a non-existent brush tip file is useless since the brush tip can't be found.

BrushWrangler has the following functions:

  1. It will detect orphaned brush tip files and either create a basic brush settings file so that the brush tip can be used again, delete the orphaned brush, or do nothing.
  2. It will detect brush settings files that reference non-existent brush tips and optionally delete them.
  3. It will detect tool presets that reference non-existent brush tips and optionally delete them.

At times, orphaned brushes and brush settings and preset files that reference non-existent brush tips can cause your system to bog down, and/or cause long waits when changing to and from brush tools. If you're having these or similar problems, and everything else is in order, it's probably time to call on the BrushWrangler! You can download Joe's excellent utility script HERE - posted with Joe's permission. Note that due to the nature of the facilities this script uses, it must run from a Trusted folder.

When the BrushWrangler has completed its work, reset your cache (choose File...Preferences...Reset Preferences and check 'Delete all cache files'), then stop and restart PSP - things should definitely look better.

For more on brushes, see #088 Using Custom Brushes in PSP which explains what you see (or don't see) when you have a brush tip and no settings, or settings with no associated brush tip, and #182 Brush Tips, Presets, Options, and Variance which provides complete information about brush tips, presets, options and variances and how they interact.

dot 198 Restoring Lost Windows Thumbnails For PSP Files

Sometimes, after the installation of a new version of PSP, some users find that they can no longer view PSPImage files and PSP's content files, e.g. PSPTubes. Corel has provided a fix for this issue which you can download
Note: Though this "fix" is listed for PSP X, it appears to repair the problem (for most users) no matter which version of PSP caused it.

dot 199 Making "Cut Out" Vector Shapes

To make vector shapes that have one vector shape cut out from another, do the following:

  1. Draw the larger shape - the one in which you intend to place the "hole".

    larger vector shape

    If you used either the Rectangle, Ellipse, or Symmetric Shape tool to draw the shape, choose Objects...Convert to Path.

  2. Draw the smaller shape - the one that will define the "hole" in the first shape.

    smaller vector shape

    If you used either the Rectangle, Ellipse, or Symmetric Shape tool to draw the shape, choose Objects...Convert to Path.

  3. With the smaller shape selected, switch to the Pen tool (V) in Edit mode - the image should look like this now:

    Pen tool activated

  4. Choose Objects...Edit...Reverse Path - reversing the path is what determines that the second shape will "cut a hole" in the first shape. If you click on any node in the second shape now, you will see that the direction of the contour is counter-clockwise:

    contour reversed

  5. With the smaller shape still selected, choose Objects...Edit...Select All.

  6. With the smaller shape still selected, choose Objects...Edit...Cut. Your smaller shape appears to have disappeared, but don't worry, it's still there.

  7. Select the larger shape - the one in which you want the "hole" - and choose Objects...Edit...Paste. Your "hole" will appear, surrounded by a bounding box:

    hole in vector shape

    You can move or resize the "hole" using the handles on the bounding box.

    hole moved and resized

dot 200 Increasing Text Size in the Online PSP Help Files

If you have your Internet Explorer Text Size set to smaller or smallest, the online Help file text will be incredibly small. To increase the text size in the online Help file, in Internet Explorer choose View...Text Size and increase the text size selected.

Another way to increase the text size in the PSP online Help file is to hold down the CTRL key and use the scroll button on your mouse - scrolling up decreases text size, while scrolling down increases text size. Be aware, though, that changing the text size in this way will change the text size selected in Internet Explorer.

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