PSP Version 5 Basics

Creating a New File

When you create a new file in Paint Shop Pro, you must choose 16 million colors for most of the filters to work. I set my default to Background Color: White and Image Type: 16 million colors. If you save a file as a gif, when you open it again, the image will no longer be 16 million colors . To fix this, just chose Colors|Increase Color Depth and choose 16 million colors again (or if you’re smart, you will have this option on your toolbar!).

Note: You should always work in 16 million colors mode. Most of PSP’s advanced features such as filters, layers, masks and antialiasing don’t work in 256 color mode. If you find a feature is “greyed out”, you know you are working in 256 color mode and you need to bump the colors up to 16 million.

The size of your new graphic is up to you. I usually create a new file bigger than I think I will need to give me working room, then crop the image when I am done (Image|Crop to Selection).

Edit|Clear – Shortcut: hit the Delete Key

Once you have created an image, if you don’t like it and want to start over, this combination makes it very easy to do. Just be sure you have the background color set to what you want the cleared file’s canvas to be. This is also a trick for filling an image with a background color. Setting the background color then choosing Edit|Clear is a lot faster and more efficient than choosing the flood fill tool and using it. If you choose Edit|Clear when working on the base layer, it clears the layer and fills with background color. If you use Edit|Clear while working on a layer, it just clears the layer, it doesn’t fill the layer with the background color.

Tool Palette

The tools on the left tool palette are the essence of the program. If you learn to use these tools effectively, you will be able to create great graphics. The tool palette leads at the left of your workspace by default. You can drag the tool palette and dock it anywhere on your workspace. You can also remove the tool palette from your screen, and then bring it back by pressing the “p” key on the keyboard. This is a handy feature when you have a small monitor and you want to clear your work space to give you more room when you are working on an image.

  • Arrow – This tool is most useful when you have an image enlarged to work on a portion of the image. If you click on your image with the arrow tool and hold down the left mouse button, the cursor turns into a hand. Holding down the left mouse button, you can then drag your picture to move a new portion into the window.
  • Zoom – The zoom tool is used to zoom in and out on a graphic. Clicking on a graphic with the left mouse button zooms in, with the left mouse button zooms out.
  • Deform Tool – The Deform tool allows you to expand and contract or rotate and skew an image or a selection. To use this tool, always work on a layer with the image you want to distort the only image on the layer. Click here for a Deform tool tutorial.
  • Crop Tool – This Crop tool is fairly straight forward. Just click on the tool, draw a selection on a graphic, then double click on the selection. Instant crop. I have to admit, though, that I still use the Image|Crop method most since you can use different selecting techniques with this crop method. The crop tool also can be used to designate a specific size crop that you can then reuse on different graphics. To do this, double click on the crop tool to bring up the coordinates box. The crop tool will remember the last coordinates you entered.
  • Mover Tool – This tool is one of my favorites. I move my selections frequently (either image selections or text selections) using this tool. All you need to do is to make a selection, right click on the selection with this tool and you can then drag your selection (rather than the underlying graphic) to a new position.
  • Selecton Tool – This selection tool allows you to make rectangular, square, ellipse and circular selections. Paint Shop Pro 6 and 7 also includes all the selections relating to the shapes in the Shapes Tool). You can pre-determine the size of square and rectangular selections by double clicking on the tool and entering coordinates. When you make a circular or ellipse selection, always have “antialias” checked. This smoothes the edges. Don’t have “antialias” selected when you make rectangular and square selections. Warning! If you crop a selection with antialias on, you will end up with spare pixels around the edges. When you use the selection tool to select an image on a transparent layer, you can “snap” the selection outline to the graphic by clicking inside the selection with the selection tool active. You can move a selected object by clicking inside the selection and dragging the object. You can also move the selected object one pixel at a time by Shift-Clicking on the object and then while holding down the Shift key, hitting an arrow key in any direction. This method of moving a selection is very handy for precise aligning.
  • Freehand Tool – This tool is commonly called the “Lasoo” tool. With it you can make irregular selections. A new feature of this tool in 5.0 is the “Smart Edge” option. With this option selected, you can click along the edge of something and the selection will snap to the nearest color. This tool is very useful for making preliminary selections (such as cutting a person out of a picture). You probably don’t want to have “antialias” checked when you make your selection since you can “feather” your selection later for the same effect.
  • Magic Wand – This is another very handy tool. When you click on a solid color with this tool, that color will be selected. If you hold down the shift key and click on another part of a graphic, that part is added to the selection. Holding down the control key and clicking on a selection removes it from the selection. The controls for this tool are on the Control Palette. The Tolerance setting on this tool determines how many pixels of a color will be selected. Use low tolerance settings for solid colors and higher settings for blended colors. If you are selecting a solid color that exists in different parts of the graphic, you can, after your first color selection with the magic wand, then choose Selections>Modify>Select Similar as a shortcut to selection all of a certain color in a graphic.
  • Dropper Tool – This tool is commonly called the “Eye Dropper“. If you left click on a color with this tool, you will set the foreground color whereas a right click sets the background color. A hint for using this tool. Sometimes it works best to zoom in on a graphic to choose a color.
  • Paint Brushes – The paint brush tools in PSP have many features. You can adjust the size of the brush, the opacity, the texture and the shape. The manual has an excellent description of how to use the paint tools. A hint: You can create your own paint brushes by creating a graphic (you can even use fonts). To create your own brush, have a black graphic selected, click on the Paint Brush tool, then on the “Brush Tip” tab on the Control Palette. Click on the “Brush Options” button, then click “Custom”. When the custom window pops up, click on Create. You can edit your custom brushes by clicking on the “Edit” button. The “step” entry means how far apart each “brush” stroke will be when you drag the brush. Set to 100, each brush stroke will be separate. You can also use Photoshop brushes in Paint Shop Pro. For a more complete tutorial on using this tool, click here.
  • Clone Brush – This tool can be a lot of fun and is very useful. It allows you to clone part of a graphic to a new position. I use it frequently to “clone” skin on bright spots on people’s faces or to replace reflections. Another common use for this tool is to create a “seamless tile”. The manual has a very good section on using the Clone Brush.
  • Color Replacer – This tool allows you to replace one color in a graphic with another color. To accomplish this, set the foreground color to the color you want to replace and the background color to the replacement color. Then dragging with the right mouse button replaces the foreground color with the background color and double clicking with the right mouse button replaces all instances of the foreground with the background. To reverse the process, left click and drag or left double-click.
  • Retouch Tool – This tool is used to apply photo retouching effects to an image. It is a very complicated tool. The manual has a very good explanation of all its uses and features.
  • Eraser Tool – This tool essentially erases all color down to the base image. Using the tool on the original layer (usually called “background” when you open a new graphic) will replace the erased portion with the background color. Using the tool on a graphic on a layer will remove the graphic down to the transparent layer. I use this tool a lot to touch up selections I have pasted as a new layer. If you zoom in on your image and keep your tip fairly small, you can successfully remove stray pixels easily with this tool. Another benefit to removing stray pixels with the eraser tool is that it smoothes the edges.
  • Picture Tube – This tool is used with premade tubes. With it you can scatter tube pictures over a graphic. You can make the tube images larger and smaller with the “scale” slider on the Control Palette. Keep in mind, though, that scaling an image larger will dither the image the same way resizing an imager larger will. Tubes are a lot of fun and I will be providing links to tubes sites soon.
  • Air Brush – This tool is quite similar to the Paint Brush tool in that it is very complex and has a lot of settings. The manual outlines the use and setting for this tool very well. For a more complete tutorial on using this tool, click here
  • Flood Fill – This is the one tool you will probably use the most. It is used to flood fill a selection with a solid color, a pattern and various versions of color fills using the background and foreground colors in combination. The settings are on the Control Palette. I use the Sunbrust Gradient to make spheres and the Linear gradient to make buttons. To use the “pattern” feature, have a seamless tile pattern or texture open on the desktop. Set the flood fill to Pattern, then click on the “Options” button. Then where it says “New Pattern Source”, choose the tile you have open. For a more complete tutorial on using this tool, click here.
  • Text Tool – The text tool is used to place text on a graphic. I cover the use of this tool in my “Text” tutorial. A couple of important things to remember about this tool. First, always have “anti alias” checked, otherwise your text will have jagged edges. The second is that your text will be centered from where you have the cross-hairs when you place your text (i.e. if you click at 50×50, half your word will be to the left of that coordinate and half will be to the right. This is useful to know when placing text to help your alignment on the graphic. But, you can always move your text by left clicking on it and dragging it to a new position. Right clicking outside your text selection will place your text.
  • Line Tool – This tool is used to draw lines. It is most useful in drawing straight lines, since angled lines end up pretty ragged. To draw a straigt line, hold down the shift key while dragging the mouse. You can set the Line Type and Width on the Control Palette. I use the straight line tool a lot to clean up straight edges on selections.
  • Shapes Tool – This tool is used to create outline or filled shapes. It is useful for creating quick filled circles, squares, etc. It is also useful for creating outline masks for dual beveled buttons.
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