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November 1996 Reviews TOC

11/96 Reviews SW: Paint Shop Pro 4.0

Take the Pain Out of Painting

By Joel T. Patz

Once upon a time, creating images, manipulating graphics or touching up photos required high-end applications too complicated for even the most computer-savvy users. Only veteran graphic artists could add interesting textures and lush gradient fills, highlight specific areas of a photo, or adjust color values and luminance to give just the right pizzazz to an otherwise ordinary illustration. Now, Paint Shop Pro 4.0 brings a strong arsenal of graphics tools and utilities within the average business consumer's grasp.

To start, you call up your image in the program's workspace and use the well-designed, dockable and customizable toolbars to manipulate it: changing or modifying colors, feathering edges, or adjusting contrast and brightness.

You can select foreground and background colors, edit an image palette for images with a color depth of 256 or less, load or save the image palette, and reduce an image to 256 colors. Change width and height to any of five predefined sizes or to a custom size while maintaining its aspect ratio. Flip, mirror and rotate images.

Adding individual or multiple special effects to graphic or photographic images can increase their impact. With Paint Shop Pro 4.0, you can quickly add drop shadows, as well as cutout and chisel effects. You can also create wallpaper or tiled backgrounds using the program's seamless welder. In addition, four gradient-fill styles can be added to almost any element, and hot wax coating can be applied to images.

The paintbrush tool lets you add any of 29 paper textures. You can apply deformations and filters to adjust an image's appearance.

To include screenshots on a Web page or in newsletters, activate the screen-capture utility with just a few mouse clicks. You can grab images from active windows, client and object areas, and full-screen or selected portions of the screen.

Paint Shop Pro 4.0 supports over 30 file formats, including Progressive JPEG and Mac Picture (PICT), which are handy for creating transparent GIFs for the Web. The browser feature allows you to view and sort thumbnail images, and a right-click brings up a list of graphic and file characteristics. You need Win95 or NT 4.0 to run Paint Shop Pro.

I was especially impressed by the power of Paint Shop Pro's tools, but it also supports batch conversion of graphic files and TWAIN-compliant scanners. You get a text tool for adding text to images, and viewing and printing capabilities. With so many features and an attractive price, this product is definitely a best buy.

-- Info File --
Paint Shop Pro 4.0
Pros: Full-featured graphics editor; exceptional value
Cons: None
Disk Space: 5MB
Platforms: 95, NT
800-622-2793, 612-930-9800
WinMag Box Score 5.0

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