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Paint Shop Pro 7.0: Win9X/2K/NT4 review:

Paint Shop Pro 7.0: Win9X/2K/NT4

  • 1
MSRP: $109.00
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The Good New special effects are easy to apply; automatic color adjustment simplifies color management for novice users.

The Bad Web tools are hard to find; no color-match (CMYK) preview; hard-to-find ICM support; still not available for Mac.

The Bottom Line Photoshop is still the best in the field, but if you need a user-friendly, powerful image editor, Paint Shop Pro is an affordable alternative.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

You just gotta love software that plays David to Adobe Photoshop's Goliath, and Jasc Software's Paint Shop Pro does just that. In fact, for about $500 less, you get a program that's almost as good as Photoshop. For example, Paint Shop Pro's vector drawing tools are so tightly integrated into the program--making them much easier to learn and use--that they beat Photoshop's hands down. This program is feature-packed and robust enough for professional-caliber image editing yet easy enough for artists of all skill levels.
You just gotta love software that plays David to Adobe Photoshop's Goliath, and Jasc Software's Paint Shop Pro does just that. In fact, for about $500 less, you get a program that's almost as good as Photoshop. For example, Paint Shop Pro's vector drawing tools are so tightly integrated into the program--making them much easier to learn and use--that they beat Photoshop's hands down. This program is feature-packed and robust enough for professional-caliber image editing yet easy enough for artists of all skill levels.

Automatic Picture Repair
Image editing is a formidable challenge for most amateur designers, primarily because you need to learn tons of tools and processes to use image-editing software. Fortunately, Paint Shop Pro holds your hand most of the way. Although it doesn't come with wizards, Paint Shop's help is beautifully organized and teaches you the ropes without much jargon. Besides, Paint Shop's interface is so straightforward, you probably won't need help with most common tasks. Version 7.0 has even added menu commands that automatically remove red-eye and fix blemishes caused by dust and scratches. (For an image-editing tutorial, read "Perfect Pictures in a Flash.")

Two-in-One Graphics Package
And if you need more advanced tools, Paint Shop Pro has them, too. It supports both bitmap (raster) images and vector objects--the best of the illustration and photo-editing worlds. Many image editors now include vector tools, which create objects with crisp edges (such as text outlines). But unlike the rest of the packages, Paint Shop Pro integrates its vector tools seamlessly and elegantly so that it's easy to switch back and forth between vector and bitmap tools.

Effortless Effects
Paint Shop Pro's new Effects preview browser makes it easy to add special effects to your images, too. Fiddle with Paint Shop's 80 or so filters, such as Spiky Halo or Buttonize, to look at the effects without making a commitment. And Paint Shop ships with almost every imaginable color-correction tool, including a sophisticated channel mixer, which enhances the red, green, or blue channels in an image by adding percentages of the other two channels.

Limited Web Graphics
To help Web artists create animated GIFs, Paint Shop Pro includes Animation Shop 3.0, a midrange Web graphics creator. Paint Shop Pro itself, however, supports a variety of tools that optimize compressed graphics files for the Web, including JPEG, GIF, and PNG. And, of course, Paint Shop includes all the buzzword Web features, including slicing (cutting an image into easily transmittable pieces), rollovers, and image maps. Unfortunately, these features are hard to locate. You have to use the File/Export Image Mapper or Image Slicer to get to these functions, and the rollover function is buried inside the Image Mapper dialog box.

Printing Problems
Alas, Paint Shop Pro fails in one critical area: print proofing. It doesn't include a standard CMYK preview. And although representatives from Jasc assured us that they exist, we were unable to find any way to use standardized integrated color management (ICM) profiles. These files, which ship with most input and output devices, help maintain consistent color among devices--for example, the scanner, monitor, and printer--and are crucial for professional print output. Without these profiles, you'll have to resort to trial and error to assure uniform colors from one device to another. One further complaint: Paint Shop Pro still isn't available for Mac. Since many graphics professionals use Macs, this is a major drawback.

The ICM glitch aside, however, Paint Shop Pro is a good choice for both novice and intermediate image editors. Graphics professionals will probably want to stick with Photoshop, but for pros on a budget who need a fast, friendly, powerful image editor, Paint Shop Pro is the way to go.

Quickly explore special effects and image adjustment filters inside the Effects Browser.

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