Pain­tShop Pro X8 Ul­ti­mate

Corel’s im­age edit­ing soft­ware gets up­dated – but is it still aim­ing to com­pete with Pho­to­shop?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Reviews -

Pain­tShop Pro has been re­garded by some as the poor man’s Pho­to­shop, a lit­tle un­fair as it’s good soft­ware in its own right. In fact, in the late 1990s and early 2000s it was im­mensely pop­u­lar as it of­fered pow­er­ful fea­tures such as clone tools, pic­ture tubes and an­i­mated GIFs.

Boot­ing up the latest ver­sion, X8, brings with it a pleas­ant tin­gle of nos­tal­gia for any­one who’s used the soft­ware be­fore. The se­lec­tion tools and menu op­tions haven’t changed much in 15 years, even if the in­ter­face has been given an Adobe-es­que dark grey makeover, and vec­tor edit­ing is now avail­able within the soft­ware.

New fea­tures in­clude a Magic Move tool. Se­lect some­thing you want to shift in an im­age, move it, and Pain­tShop Pro will au­to­mat­i­cally fill in the gap. It works well, par­tic­u­larly on im­ages with non­de­script back­grounds such as beaches or fields. It’s use­ful for quickly re­ar­rang­ing non-lay­ered im­ages and saves you aeons of fid­dling with the clone stamp in Pho­to­shop.

Mi­nor tweaks in­clude a bet­ter ap­proach to lay­ers, com­plete with a search func­tion, 4K mon­i­tor sup­port and cam­era lens cor­rec­tion. Pain­tShop Pro has al­ways lagged be­hind Pho­to­shop in terms of per­for­mance, but thank­fully X8 gives it a 64-bit boost so it can han­dle large im­ages and com­pli­cated brushes. While we’re talk­ing brushes, it’s com­pat­i­ble with the masses of user-cre­ated brushes avail­able for Pho­to­shop.

The Ul­ti­mate edi­tion in­cludes a raft of ad­di­tional soft­ware. After­shot adds non-de­struc­tive RAW photo edit­ing, Per­fectly Clear is a one-click au­to­tune for your im­ages, while Per­fect Ef­fects acts like In­sta­gram fil­ters on steroids. The roy­alty-free im­ages and ex­tra brushes in­cluded make it worth the ex­tra £20 over the stan­dard edi­tion.

The core soft­ware is solid enough, and def­i­nitely more suit­able for dig­i­tal artists than the sim­i­larly priced Pho­to­shop El­e­ments. It does feel scrap­pier and more poorly or­gan­ised than Pho­to­shop CC, but it’s far cheaper. So yes, it’s still a poor man’s Pho­to­shop. But that’s re­ally not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing.

Artists will spend most of their time in Pain­tShop Pro’s Edit workspace.

Com­plex im­ages are a cinch with the new lay­ers pal­ette.

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