Corel PaintShop Pro X8 review

PaintShop Pro now boasts even more features, but does it give Adobe Photoshop anything to worry about?

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

The Manage and Adjust sections are useful, but it's the Edit workspace that houses PaintShop Pro's most powerful features, many of which can also be found in Photoshop. Even the layout is similar, with a tools palette to the left of the image preview, and tool options above.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

On the right of the image preview is a customisable pallet stack which includes a Materials section where you can select colours, gradients, patterns and textures. There's also a neat complementary colours feature here, where PaintShop Pro will pick one or more complementary tones to accent your current colour choice, making it easy to create attractive graphic designs. PaintShop Pro isn't just an image-editor, it's a design and illustration tool too.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

You'll also find a Layers pallet in the Edit workspace, as PaintShop Pro uses a fully layered workflow, enabling you to work with multiple raster, vector, art media, masking and adjustment layers. Painting effects into or out of a layer mask is as easy and effective as it is in Photoshop, plus there's layer opacity adjustment, as well as blending and grouping options.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

It'd be easy to get a bit baffled by all the available tools and features in the Edit workspace, so Corel has included a helpful pallet called the Learning Centre. Click on an editing tool and here you'll get a brief description of its function, plus a quick walkthrough of how to use it and a few tips for best results.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

Text wrapping is new to version X8. By marking out a selection with any standard selection tool and typing within it, the text will automatically wrap to fit. The effect also works if you draw a vector shape and type inside this, making it easy to create speech bubble effects. The only slight drawback is the tool's speed – it can be a bit sluggish and slow to respond.

Another fresh feature is the Magic Move tool that automatically fills the background behind a relocated object or person. This is a development of Magic Fill, which is Corel's take on Photoshop's Content Aware Fill, and clones areas of background surrounding a deleted object to seamlessly fill the blank space. The results are impressive and on a par with what you could achieve in Photoshop, though as with any clone-based tool, it's most effective when working with large, uniform areas of colour or patterning. For smaller touch-ups, then there's always the Clone Brush.

Alternatively, to delete large objects without using cloning, try the Smart Carver tool. This compresses a photo horizontally or vertically to conceal the image element you want to remove. You'll need to first select this by painting over it, as well as highlighting anything you specifically want to keep. Then PaintShop Pro automatically shrinks the image and adjusts the surrounding background to stitch together around where the object once was. The only downside with Smart Carver is you're left with an image that's reduced in horizontal or vertical size, so it's not the best choice for removing objects if you want to preserve the picture's aspect ratio.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

One area of PaintShop Pro that's been enhanced in version X8 is its batch processing abilities, thanks to a new Batch Process wizard. This makes it a doddle to select a group of photos and resize them all, simultaneously apply your own watermark, or add a themed frame design.

Batch processing also lets you execute Scripts to multiple images. These are PaintShop Pro's take on Photoshop's Actions and enable you to record a series of edits and then replay them to quickly make numerous corrections to additional images.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

Camera RAW Lab is PaintShop Pro's raw file preparation workspace and it's been improved for version X8 with a redesigned layout and bigger image previews. Whether you're working in this or the main Edit workspace, you'll also be able to utilise X8's new Lens Correction feature that enables easy correction of lens distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration. This can be done manually, or automatically with the aid of lens-specific profiles included in the software.

Finally, version X8 is now faster when using various brushes, and it saves images more quickly. 4K monitors are supported too, thanks to enhanced icons.

Corel PaintShop Pro X8

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Corel PaintShop Pro X8

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