Corel Paint Shop Pro 9.0 review:

Corel Paint Shop Pro 9.0

With only a few minor tweaks, Paint Shop's Camera Noise Removal tool noticeably improved our image.

On the downside, Paint Shop's Flash Fill and Backlighting filters, meant to correct under- and overexposed areas (respectively) in your digital images, were disappointing. There just weren't enough controls to make these filters work well; Photoshop still triumphs in the exposure correction department.

Although Paint Shop Pro isn't going to replace Corel Painter any time soon, the program's new Art Media tools are fun to use. The new Mixer palette lets you experiment with paper textures and blended colors, and the brushes themselves--chalk, pastel, crayon, oil, and marker--work fairly well; however, taking full advantage of the Art Media tools requires a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet. (Wacom is the gold standard here.) The tools were moderately responsive and suitable for adding realistic artwork to our image. However, if you are serious about art media, we suggest that you upgrade to Corel Painter.

Use the new Art Media tools to sketch and paint. A pressure-sensitive tablet is a must to make the most of them.

Paint Shop Pro doesn't begin and end with image editing; there are a few tools for creating such vector graphics as lines, shapes, and text. These features can come in handy when you need a few lines, boxes, or stars to enhance your photo. If you need to make quick Web buttons, Paint Shop also has the ability to create image maps, rollover buttons, and image slices.

Corel's customer support is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday. This service is free but not toll-free, and options to purchase priority support are available on Corel's Web site, which includes 24-hour online support and hosts extensive newsgroups where you can ask questions and hopefully get answers from other users. In addition, Paint Shop Pro's manual is outstanding. It includes detailed explanations for every tool, plus informative sidebars and tidbits that will help you better understand the program and image editing in general.

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