Corel Photo-Paint Review

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On-screen Look and Feel

The interface of Corel Photo-Paint 8 has a new "flat look." It is similar to the CorelDraw interface and has some of the same features such as Docker windows and CorelTutor. You also have the ability to customize elements as you can do in CorelDraw. On-screen elements, such as buttons, look three-dimensional as you position your cursor over them. You can customize a specific configuration of settings, called a Workspace, using the Options dialog box. Multiple Workspaces can be saved for specific users or specific tasks and then applied when required. Docker windows give you quick access to frequently used functions. They are similar to Roll-Ups, but you can also dock them to the side of the Application Window. The image to the right shows the main workspace, the CorelTutor, and tabs on the right for other Docker windows.You can use the Microsoft IntelliMouse to zoom in and out of your image. CorelTutor has tutorials that provide interactive step-by-step instructions to help you complete dozens of tasks, from saving files to creating your own Web page. You can control the placement and content of the toolbars in Corel Photo-Paint. You can resize or move the toolbars anywhere inside the Application Window. You can also add, remove, and rearrange toolbar controls, or create your own toolbars containing the controls you use most often.

Productivity and Performance

The new Image Info Roll-Up is used to view information about your image as you work on it. It shows the primary and secondary color models used to display the image and the cursor's coordinates as it moves on the image. The Recorder and Scripts Docker windows give you quick access to controls so that you can automate a series of actions that you want to repeat on the same images or on several different images. I used the Scripts Docker to drag and apply a puzzle preset effect for the image to the right. For working with very large images, you can speed up your editing tasks and improve efficiency by opening a low-resolution version of the image, and then you can edit this smaller, low-resolution copy without the delays that you often experience when editing large, high-resolution image files. With Photo-Paint there is extensive keyboard accelerator support. You can define combinations of keys to activate commands that you use frequently, and you can change built-in keyboard assignments or assign new key combinations to any command.

Interactive Tools

You can now use symmetrical painting with the brush tools by using the new Brush Symmetry Roll-Up. In Symmetry mode, satellite brush nibs, called "points," revolve around a center point. You can also create orbits with the brush tools to apply amazing paint twists, pods, rings, and more. There are several preset orbits to choose from and you can also create and save you own. I used the Brush Symmetry Roll-Up for the image to the left. You can paint on objects such as the butterflies or the background shape. You can also resize any brush-tool nib on screen by holding SHIFT and dragging the mouse. If you have installed a pressure-sensitive pen and tablet on your computer, you can use the pen to access commands and create your images in Corel Photo-Paint. The Pen Settings Roll-Up lets you control the relationship between the pressure you apply to the tablet with the pen and the effect produced by the brush tools. The new Dodge/Burn Effect tool lets you darken or lighten areas of your image. You can choose to apply the effect to the highlights, midtones, or shadows of your image. The image to the right shows the Dodge/Burn Effect options. You can use the Clone From Fill tool to paint using the current fill, or use the Interactive Fill tool to apply a graduated color blend that changes the transparency from the start color to the end color.

Object Tools

The Object Transparency tools are used to apply local transparency edits directly on an object. You can apply a flat transparency, a gradient transparency, or make selected colors in an object transparent. Clip masks allow you to vary the transparency of pixels in an object without working on the object directly. A clip mask covers the object like an invisible sheet, so you can cancel changes to the transparency even after saving the image. Lenses are fun to play with in Photo-Paint. Lenses are special kinds of objects used to apply effects filters. The pixels in the image are not changed by the lens; they only "look" different because you see them through the lens. Lenses are objects listed in the Objects Docker window, and you can edit them as you would any object. The graphic of the sunflowers to the left was created using lenses. I started with two sunflowers made with the Image Sprayer Tool and then created an inverted circular lens to change the middle of the flowers. In Photo-Paint 8 you can create drop shadows. A drop shadow is an object that looks like the shadow of another object. Drop shadows are completely customizable and are also listed in the Objects Docker window. There are a wide range of options and effects for Drop Shadow. The new Align and Distribute command (Object menu) lets you align objects to other image elements or distribute objects by spacing them evenly over the image.

Image Editing and Special Effects

You can now preview special effects filters directly in the Image Window. The On-Screen Preview button included in most effects dialog boxes allows you to preview the effect on screen. There are many image adjustment filters included in Corel Photo-Paint that you can use to retouch and refine images. Also included are several special effects filters that you can use to completely change the look of images and to achieve amazing results. The image to the right was created by using the Image Sprayer Tool to get foliage and nuts. Then I applied the Lens Flare and Lens Lighting Effects. You can combine or stitch two or more images together using the Image Stitch command. Stitching lets you merge two or more source images to create a third, composite image. For the image of the skiers, I used a graphic of a skier from Draw, copied and flipped it, and then used the Stitch command. You can use the Fade command to partially undo operations on an image. When you fade a command, the visual effect is gradually removed from the image. Animators will appreciate the fact that Photo-Paint supports movies or documents containing multiple frames. You can edit the individual frames, adjust the timing of frames, and then save the documents in GIF Animation or AVI format.

Color and Printing

Corel Photo-Paint now offers support for the PostScript 3 format. PostScript 3 is an advanced PostScript language that lets you use JPEG compression to compress the bitmaps in your print job to make the file size smaller. The new Palettes Docker window lets you browse through a series of predefined color palettes and choose the one you want to use. This is a great feature. The image to the right shows a predefined fire color palette. You can use color harmonies to choose a paint, paper, or fill color. Color harmonies are most useful when you are selecting several colors and working with custom palettes. Corel Photo-Paint now supports 16-bit Grayscale and 48-bit RGB images. You can convert images to these color modes using the Convert To command (Image menu). You can also use this command to convert images to the NTSC video color mode. Use color correction to adjust screen colors so that they are displayed as accurately as possible. The Color Management page of the Options dialog box gives you access to color correction options.

Object/Document/File Management

When saving an image as a GIF or JPG file, you can now interactively preview the image with the current export options. When converting a Photo-Paint image to a.JPEG, you can get a dialogue box that not only show you how the image will look when converted, but also how much space the file will take up. The image to the left shows the export save options. You can also import vector images, such as CorelDraw (.CDR) files, as paths. Each point on the vector becomes a node that you can manipulate with the path Node Edit tool. Corel Photo-Paint now offers support for importing and exporting Kodak FlashPix Image files (.FPX). The Font Navigator (included in the CorelDraw 8 graphics suite) is a font manager for Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0. It gives you a quick and easy way to find fonts, install fonts, organize fonts into manageable groups, and view and print font samples.

Internet Features

The two most common image file formats for the Internet are Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) and Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG). Corel Photo-Paint offers support for both of these file formats and for the relatively new graphics file format, Portable Network Graphics (PNG). The PNG file format is used as an alternative to .GIF and .JPG files. The Paletted 8-bit color mode displays images using up to 256 colors and significantly reduces file size. Images must be converted to this color mode before saving them as .GIF files. The GIF file format supports image transparency, interlacing, and animation capabilities. The new Publish To Internet command is used to create image maps for use on the World Wide Web. The Tag WWWURL command lets you define objects in an image as clickable areas for the Internet. The FTP Sites page of the Scrapbook Docker window lets you connect to any File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site from Corel Photo-Paint. After you connect to a site, you can browse its contents for files you want to include in your document. When you find a file you want to use, you can import it directly into your document or download a copy to your local drive.

Personal Comments

You can share data and documents easily between CorelDraw and Corel Photo-Paint. And it is easy to work with both as they use a similar interface. Photo-Paint is a very robust application and is sold separately also. It includes the majority of image-editing features everyday users could want, including crop, color, paint, mask, and path tools. With its new support for Adobe plug-ins, excellent file export, conversion, and previewing abilities, it is an excellent tool.

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