PaintShop Pro X8 Ultimate
Corel’s image editing software gets updated – but is it still aiming to compete with Photoshop?
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.