Using the Alignment Guides

Created as a Quick Guide in 2003 © Copyright SuzShook
Made a "Version-Independent" Tutorial March 2009
Property of SuzShook

This tutorial is my own creation;
however, most of the techniques used in this tutorial, I have learned from others!
Therefore, if you recognize any contribution you have made, I thank you!
And I thank you as well for respecting this as my work by not posting it,
in whole or in part,
in any other location without written permission from me!

Individuals and PSP graphics groups are invited to share my tutorials with others with TEXT LINKS ONLY.
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it's always fun to know who is doing them!

This tutorial was originally published as a Quick Guide in 2003. With the demise of the Quick Guide capability in PSP, this Quick Guide is being re-published as a mini-tutorial!

This tutorial will show you how to use the alignment guides in PSP.

I make my tutorials as brief as possible, without the customary paths, details, and how-to's. For those veterans among you, this will be welcome! But for those less familiar with PSP, I included a "Glossary" that contains all the details omitted in the tutorial. If you need a little extra help, check the Glossary section. Just click on the button below - the Glossary will open in a new window.

PSP glossary button

This tutorial assumes you have a working knowledge of Paint Shop Pro at the intermediate level (or advanced beginner level with the Glossary). It was originally written in and for PSP Version 7, then revised for PSP 8, and now made "version-independent". Screen shots for this tutorial can come from any version of PSP - where there are significant differences from version to version, a green "Version Note" will be included, along with multiple screen shots if necessary.

Where a note/tip refers to a version of PSP and all higher versions, a + sign will be used to indicate this. For example, if a note/tip applies to PSP X and higher versions, I will use the convention "PSP X+".

If you try this tutorial, and find something is inaccurate for your version of PSP, please EMAIL ME to let me know so I can fix it!

Screen shots in this tutorial are resized - your work will be larger than this!

Supplies - For this tutorial, you will need the following:
  • Paint Shop Pro - any version. The latest version of PSP can be found at the Corel site HERE.

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Ok, now we're ready to begin! Grab your mouse and let's get started!

Remember to save often!

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Guides are horizontal or vertical lines that you drag onto your image to use for positioning items or aligning brush strokes. While grids place a series of horizontal and vertical lines at certain intervals, you place guides at the locations you want. They are excellent tools for helping you get images positioned exactly where you want them.

To practice using guides, create a new image with the following settings:

  • 200x200 pixels
  • Transparent background


To use the guides, the rulers must be displayed. Choose View...Rulers, or press CTRL + ALT + R to display the rulers.

Note: If your rulers are already displayed, choosing View...Rulers or pressing CTRL + ALT + R will effectively hide the rulers. If that happens, just repeat the procedure, as this is a toggle switch.

To display the guides, choose View...Guides.

Note: If your guides are already turned on, choosing View...Guides will effectively turn the guides back off. If that happens, just repeat the procedure, as this is a toggle switch.


To create individual guides, click on the one of the rulers and drag onto the image. Click the top ruler and drag to create horizontal guides; click the left ruler and drag to create vertical guides. For practice, try dragging a vertical guide out to the 50-pixel mark.

vertical guide at 50 pixels

Note: If your guide does not show, choose View...Guides, and it should appear.

In the above image, the blue arrow points to the guide, and the red arrow points to the guide's "handle".

To move a guide, click the guide handle (red arrow above) on the ruler and drag. Note that the position of the guide is reflected on the status bar as you drag the handle. Drag the vertical guide you created above to 100 pixels.

vertical guide at 100 pixels

One way to delete a guide is to drag its handle off the image window (into the PSP workspace). Try this with the guide you created above.


Drag a horizontal guide to the 75-pixel mark:

horizontal guide at 75 pixels

You can change the color or position and delete individual guides using the Guide Properties dialog box. To display this dialog, right-click or double-click the guide handle:

guide properties dialog

The Guide position parameter lets you place a guide precisely where you want it. The Guide color parameter lets you change the color of individual guides.

Create a vertical guide at 50 pixels, and then use the Guide Properties dialog to change its color to red (#FF0000) and move it to 72 pixels:

vertical red guide at 72 pixels


You can delete all guides or change the color of all of them at once using the Grid, Guide, & Snap Properties dialog. This dialog can be activated by any of the following methods:

  • Right-click the image window title bar and choose Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties from the context menu.
  • Double-click anywhere on either ruler of the image.
  • Choose View...Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties.

grid, guide, & snap properties dialog

Click the Guides tab (red arrow above) and make the changes you want. Changes you make in the Default settings panel at the top of the dialog (green arrow above) will affect all future images. Changes you make in the Current image settings panel (blue arrow above) affect the current image only. The Delete guides checkbox (yellow arrow above) enables you to delete all guides from the current image only, or from all open images.


One last thing you can do with guides is to set "snapping". Snapping is used to automatically align selections, brushstrokes, vector objects, and image elements precisely along the guides. The snap influence parameter determines how close an element must be, in pixels, before it is automatically aligned along, or "snapped to" the nearest guide. An element’s center point snaps to a guide if the center point is the closest part of the element to a guide; otherwise, the edge of the element snaps to the guide.

To see how snapping works, activate the Select the Preset Shapes tool preset shapes tool (P) tool, select the Rectangle from the drop-list, and use the following settings:

Retain style (UNchecked)
Create as vector (CHECKED)
Anti-alias (CHECKED)
Line style (#1 Solid)
Line width (1),

Holding the SHIFT key down, draw a square about 50 x 50 pixels in the lower right corner of your image:

image with guides and small square

Before we activate snapping, use the Move tool move tool (M) to move the square around the image - you should be able to drop the square anywhere on the image, including very close to the guides, or even overlapping either of the guides. When you have finished experimenting, return the square to the lower right corner of the image.

To snap to the nearest guide, choose View...Snap to Guides (SHIFT + ALT + G). To set the Snap influence, activate the Grid, Guide & Snap Properties dialog and click on the Guides tab. The Snap influence can be set for the current image in the Current image settings and for all future images in the Default settings panel. Let's set the Snap influence to 15 for this image.

Now use the Move tool again to slowly move your square towards the vertical guide. As soon as you get within 15 pixels of the guide, your square snaps to the guide:

left edge snapping to guide

If you try to continue dragging to the left, the center of the square snaps to the guide:

center snapping to guide

And as you continue dragging left some more, the right side of the square snaps to the guide:

right edge snapping to guide

The same thing happens if you drag your square up to the horizontal guide - as soon as you get within 15 pixels of the guide, your square snaps to the guide! And if you drag the square close to the intersection of the guides, the center of your square will snap to the intersection!

center snapping to two guides

Continue experimenting until you have good feel for how "snapping" works. This behavior is markedly different from what you observed before you turned on Snap to Guides

Note: Turn off snapping when you are finished testing - otherwise, you might see some unpredictable results the next time you add guides to an image. This is a toggle switch, so you turn it off the same way you turned it on!

Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial as much as I did creating it!

If you have any problems, comments, or questions, please do not hesitate to Email me.


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