Editing Digital Photos in Corel Paint Shop Pro

Corel Paint Shop Pro (PSP) is a general-purpose image editor with a reputation as the “poor man’s Photoshop” because Paint Shop Pro provides a substantial portion of Photoshop’s capabilities for less. Paint Shop Pro (shown in this figure) lists for about $100, but you can often find it for sale at a substantial discount.

Paint Shop Pro has many of the features found in Photoshop.
Paint Shop Pro has many of the features found in Photoshop.

Paint Shop Pro has its positives:

  • With age comes ease of use. Paint Shop Pro (which originally started as a shareware program) has been around for more than a decade — plenty of time to evolve and mature into a robust, easy-to-use product.

  • Filled with tools. PSP has a fairly complete tool kit that includes selection, painting, and retouching tools for direct manipulation of your images.

  • Offers layers. Paint Shop Pro supports layers, which enable you to achieve some fairly sophisticated editing effects. This is a surprising capability in such a low-cost image editor.

Here are the PSP negatives:

  • Uneven coverage: The breadth and depth of the Paint Shop Pro feature set is a little uneven. The program shows surprising depth in some areas, such as the availability of layers, and shallowness in others, such as the limited choice of selection and paint tools.

  • Experience required: Some tools (such as the Histogram Adjustment command) require more knowledge and experience to use effectively than do the corresponding tools in some of the other editors.

  • Windows-only: Paint Shop Pro doesn’t have a Mac-compatible format, so you can use it only if you have a Windows-based PC.

Evaluate the program carefully to determine whether its particular strengths and weaknesses are a good match for the mix of work you need to do.