Corel PaintShop Pro Review (2022)

Photoshop is a magnificent tool, but many of its users could do everything they need to in Corel'sphoto editing software, PaintShop Pro, without having to pay a monthly tribute to Adobe. PaintShop Pro supports layers and lets you edit both raster and vector image formats—something you'd need two of Adobe's Creative Cloud apps to do. You miss out on some of the Adobe flagship photo editor's most advanced tools, however, including 3D modeling, detailed typography, and face liquefy. PaintShop Pro's Performance is faster than in earlier versions, but in some photo editing operations it lags Photoshop. Likewise, while PaintShop Pro's interface has improved greatly over the years, it's still not quite as polished and unified as Photoshop's. If you're a Windows user who's not committed to the Adobe ecosystem, PaintShop Pro is a worthy alternative, especially given its low cost.

How Much Does PaintShop Pro Cost?

PaintShop Pro 2022 is available directly from Corel or via retail for $79.99 (or $59.99 as an upgrade from any previous version); it's frequently discounted. The Ultimate edition ($99.99, $79.99 upgrade) throws in more software—AfterShot (Corel's photo workflow app for importing and organizing digital photos), Corel Painter Essentials, PhotoMirage Express (converts still shots to animations) and more brushes and backgrounds. You'll need Ultra to get the AI HDR Studio and Sea-to-Sky Workspace (see below), PhotoMirage animation, and more brushes.

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PaintShop Pro is available from the Microsoft Store(Opens in a new window) app on a subscription basis at $7.99 per month. This gets you all updates but no cloud storage, such as you get with Adobe's subscriptions.

The one-time purchase options are a good fit for those who still resent Adobe's move to a subscription-only model forPhotoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator. For $9.99 per month, you get both Photoshop and Lightroom, but Illustrator starts at $19.99 per month, if you prepay for a year. Photoshop Elements ($99), Adobe's consumer-level photo editing software, requires no subscription, but that software has more of a hobbyist feel, as opposed to the company's pro-level offerings.

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Getting Started With PaintShop Pro

PaintShop Pro runs on Windows 10 (recommended version 1903 or later with the latest Service Pack (64-bit editions). You first install a small downloader program that completes the installation. You have to choose whether you want 32-bit, 64-bit, or both—the last means you'll be compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit plug-ins. After this step, the program asked me to enter an email to create an account, which only requires confirmation by responding to an automatically generated email.

Corel offers downloadable effect packs, too, such as ParticleShop brushes and ColorScript color effects (for $14.99 and $4.99, respectively). I installed PaintShop Pro on my test PC running Windows 10 Pro and sporting a Core i7 6700 CPU, 16GB RAM, and an Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics card.

What's New in PaintShop Pro?

Corel puts a lot of effort into improving and adding features to the venerable image editing software, taking feedback from user advisory boards and program telemetry to decide what people want. New features for the 2022 version include AI Background Replacement, AI Portrait Mode, and a much-improved AI Style Transfer. It also adds support for the HEIC and HEIF file types that iPhones use and an updated Welcome and startup experience. New brushes, color palettes, gradients, patterns and picture tubes, and a Frame tool for placing images inside shapes round out the updates.

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The Ultimate version adds a Highlight Reel video slideshow-creating feature (similar to the one in Corel VideoStudio), MultiCam Capture Lite for screen and webcam video presentations, Painter Essentials 8 for simple drawing, sketching, and painting on the PC.

In 2021, PaintShop added a touch-friendly photography mode that includes a split before-and-after view, handy for seeing the effects of your edits. (I'd still like to see a side-by-side option like Lightroom's.) Also arriving in that version were AI Upsampling, AI Denoise, AI Artifact Removal, AI Style Transfer, and the HDR Studio plug-in. A big tool from this update is the Sea-to-Sky Workspace (only in Ultimate). It's applies appropriate fixes to underwater and aerial shots, such as those from a drone.

Other recent updates added a slew of tools as well. The 2020 version added SmartClone for blending multiple image selections; Refine Brushfor selecting complex objects like hair or tree lines; new brushes, color palettes, gradients, patterns and picture tubes; Text tool enhancements; and an improved Depth of Field tool.Available within the Crop tool, Depth of Field lets you position the focus area with a five-by-five grid of squares. The 2019 version added 360-Degree camera support, an improved crop toolbar,stylus and tablet support,and a more-customizable UI.

The PaintShop Interface

PaintShop's Welcome screen shows your recent files, product news, tutorials, and add-ins for purchase. Pick an image to work on, and the program starts up in one of four workspaces you choose: Photography, Essentials, Complete, and Sea-to-Sky. Only three tabs grace the top of the Complete program window: Home, Manage, and Edit. Aside from the simple Photography workspace, the others each take you through an interface tour wizard to show you what's what.

The Photography workspace is simple and touch-friendly. I appreciate the ability to use a touch screen more and more as threat of carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive mouse usage looms.

In the Photography workspace, you find basic tools like Rotate, Crop, Brightness, Color adjustments, One Step Photo Fix, and White Balance. You also get some of the fancier tools, including AI Upsampling, AI Denoise, AI Artifact Removal, and AI Style Transfer. There's an arrow offering even more tools, like the useful Local Tone Mapping tool, High Pass Sharpen, Fill Light/Clarity, Vibrancy, and Fade Correction. I'd like to see adjusters for highlights and shadows here, too, but they're MIA. A Fill Light control makes up for the lack of a shadows slider, but the Photography view offers a handy split-screen view to see your edits' effect. You can adjust the text and icon size and workspace colors, as well.

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Another thing I'd like to see in this Photography mode interface, aside from highlights and shadows, is an easier, one-button way to get to the program's other, more-advanced workspaces—Essentials and Complete. You can switch to any mode from the File > Workspace menu, but buttons would be quicker. A minor interface feature I like to see in photo apps is having sliders snap to the default position when you double click.

From Welcome, you can also start with project templates. PaintShop's templates are similar to the Create dialog that appears when you first run Photoshop. The New Image dialog's Blank Canvas tab is rich with choices like Photo, Paper, Web, Mobile, and Social. One thing I don't see, which Photoshop has, is a Clipboard choice that sizes your new project to an image you've copied. The New From Template tab, like Photoshop's, offers several document types, including calendars, collages, cards, business reports, and social media. Most of these are in-app purchases—in both programs—though you can create your own custom templates.

The interface is customizable when it comes to color and the size of elements such as icons and scroll bars. These options get their own main menu option: User Interface. From here, you can, for example, enlarge menu text so that it doesn't look tiny on a 4K monitor. (It also worked well for my QXD 2560x1440 display). The main window's side panels can also be undocked or dismissed. The program includes sample images, so you're not starting from zero. Additionally, the Complete workspace still includes the right-panel Learning Center, which helps you along with many image-editing procedures.

You can zoom in or out to any magnification you choose, with a simple spin of the mouse wheel. There are 1:1 and Fit Image to Window buttons in PaintShop, or you can zoom simply by spinning the mouse wheel.

Unlike inAdobe Photoshop Elements, which has a separate Organizer app, you do everything in PaintShop in the same window, but you switch modes for different functions.

Manage Mode and Importing

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As its name suggests, Manage mode is where you organize your photo collection. Like Photoshop, PaintShop is not a photo workflow application, even though it includes tools for organizing and outputting. This is especially evident when importing photos; it's more a matter of simply opening photos rather than importing them. PaintShop lacks the big Import button you find in workflow apps such as Adobe Lightroom. You can import content from a scanner, webcam, or previous versions of PaintShop, including not only photos, but also brushes, gradients, and Picture Tubes—as long as it's stored in the standard folders.

For organization and management, you can add star ratings to photos, as well as tags for keywords, people, and places. You can also create collections, including Smart Collections of photos that meet specified criteria, such as date, name, or tags. Smart Collections let you specify criteria, such as text in the file name or image size to automatically create a Collection. PaintShop no longer includes automatic face recognition feature—a feature Photoshop has also dropped.

On the left panel is source navigation, with folders and collections. In the center is your main content view—thumbnails, full image, or a map showing photo locations based on GPS data. You can double-tap a thumbnail for a quick full-screen preview with options for rating, rotating, deleting, or launching the image in the editor. Images aren't overwritten when you save edits; rather, they are saved in PaintShop's own PSP format.

You can also save in Adobe PSD format (though you lose vector layers and other features), along with dozens of other standard image formats. If you open a PSD file created in Photoshop, layers are preserved, and you can edit them separately to taste. Afterwards, your edits are fully editable if you open the resulting PSD in Photoshop. What this means is that if you're working with someone who uses Photoshop, you'll be able to edit compatibly in PaintShop, but if you start in PaintShop, they'll only see a flattened version of your file.

Essentials Workspace

Though the Essentials workspace is drastically simplified, it retains frequently needed features, and you can add and remove tools to suit your needs. There are still quite a number of menu choices along the top—14 of them, compared with Photoshop's 11 and Photoshop Elements' 10. Like Photoshop, PaintShop lets you create custom workspaces, though the Adobe product offers six options by default compared with PaintShop's four. Photoshop Elements has Quick, Guided, and Expert modes, which can be thought of as workspaces.

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On thing I find odd about the Essentials workspace is that it's missing the Manage button at the top that is found in the other two workspaces.

360-Degree Photo Editing

When you first try to open a 360-degree image file shot on a camera like the GoPro Max, a dialog asks whether you want to edit it as 360-degree image or to open for adjustments and effects. The latter doesn't affect the geometry of the photo. Instead, you can manipulate just the lighting and color effects, as though it were a warped 2D photo. Doing so keeps it in 360 format with your lighting corrections, so you can still upload it to Facebook or other 360 viewers. Corel helpfully includes a few sample 360 files for experimentation.

Opening an image in 360-degree mode presents a separate editing window and an explanatory dialog showing what you can do with the file type. There are really just four editing options: Straighten, Remove Tripod, 360-to-Panorama, and Planet effects. The last two convert the image from 360 to a standard format, such as JPG, after applying the effect.

The most useful tool is Straighten, which worked well in my testing. This option removes the unnatural curves of your 360-degree photo and lets you pick a viewing angle for the resulting image. You can pan around with the mouse or use slider controls for Pan, Tilt, Field of View (zoom), and Rotate. Then you save your work as a standard 2D photo in the format of your choice.

Remove Tripod switches your view to facing down, where a tripod normally would appear. You select the tripod with a circle, a free selection tool, or a square, and then apply Magic Fill to match the surrounding terrain. The Panorama option is mostly just a crop tool—it didn't convert the image to a natural looking panorama, as the Straighten tool does.

The Planet effects include Tiny planet and its opposite, Rabbit Hole. The tool worked fine on sample images.

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The Rabbit Hole and Tiny Planet 360-degree image effects.

One minor annoyance with the 360-degree editing window is that hitting Cancel after one operation takes you out of the editor. I often wanted to switch from, say, Straighten to Panorama, but I had to start over instead.

Basic Photo Correction

PaintShop Pro includes auto-correction, along with tools like a histogram with lighting and color controls. The One Step Photo Fix (available in all editing workspaces) corrected lighting problems in many of my test photos. The Smart Photo Fix dialog gives you a lot more control. You can click a neutral spot to correct the white balance and use a Levels slider to balance a lopsided histogram.

(Video) Corel Painter 2022 - Review (2021-2022)

Smart Photo Fix also shows before and after views so you can see the results of your adjustments and edits. There's also a Revert button at the bottom of the corrections panel. After all, there are certainly times when you've adjusted a photo excessively and just want to start over. Back and Forward buttons also help with this.

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PaintShop's Effects menu goes leagues past the familiar Instagram choices, but it does offer Instant Effects that mimic those. The Time Machine tool lets you see how your photo would look if taken in 1839 through 1960. There are lots and lots of effects—Artistic, Film, B&W, scene lighting. Clicking on an effect, shows a preview of the selected effect side by side with your original image. If the slew of effects isn't enough for you, you can download even more.

Another gap is the lack of control over the effects. Sometimes you want to tone it down a bit, as I found with the Instant Film effect. Photoshop Elements' instant effects are indeed adjustable, but PaintShop's aren't.

Of course, you could fuss with the image using the app's other adjustments for lighting and color, but it's nice to have a slider that simply controls the effect's strength, as even Instagram does. Luckily, there are also Undo and Redo buttons, since applying effects can get messy. You can limit the disk space used by these, but otherwise, they're unlimited. The program offers Autosave, with a minimum time between saves of 15 minutes—a bit long for my taste. Another help is the big Revert button, in case things have gotten completely out of hand and you want to start over.

Cropping Images

The most commonly used photo editing tool by far is the crop tool. It may seem that there's nothing to it, but Adobe supercharged Photoshop's crop tool, even adding AI-powered auto-suggested cropping (now also found in Photoshop Elements). Corel continues to give attention to its own crop tool, too. It gives you a better idea of your final result by darkening the rest of the image. It offers overlays for composition guides, including golden spiral, golden ratio, and rule of thirds. When you rotate with the tool, the crop box stays put while the image rotates, so you can see the result without tilting your head.

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These overlays are more than Elements offers (it lacks the golden spiral, for example), and that program rotates the crop box instead of the image. But Elements adds some cool-cookie cutter crops like hearts and animal shapes, and Adobe's cropping tools generally feel more responsive and precisely controllable than Corel's.

The Crop toolbar can apply auto-fix, instant effects, and depth-of-field (aka bokeh) effects. Those are marginally useful, as you'd probably want to focus on them when you're not cropping. My favorite option on the Crop toolbar—not found in Photoshop—is the Crop as New Image choice, which instantly creates another image using the crop. The 2020 update added a blur grid for the depth-of-field tool.

Let's take a more in-depth look at a few of PaintShop Pro's newer, cooler tools many of which employ AI machine learning. I'll look at the newest of these that arrived in the 2022 version first.

AI Background Replacement. Replacing a photo's background used to be a many-step, hit-or-miss process in Photoshop. That program, and now PaintShop have both flipped the script on that scenario, making it a one-click affair. The AI Background Replacment tool in PaintShop works with human subjects, while Photoshop and Skylum Luminar now have tools for changing background skies in landscapes, too. The latter is still missing in PaintShop.

AI Background replacement is not unlike using Photoshop's Subject Select tool, which instantly isolates and masks a human (or even nonhuman) subject in your photo and lets you put whatever you want in the background layer. PaintShop does simplify the process, however, offering preset backgrounds.

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You find this tool in the Adjust > Artificial Intelligence menu, the ninth option down. I'm not sure why it belongs there rather than in the Edit, Image, Effects, or Enhance Photo menu. Maybe an AI Tools panel would help? Note that you won't find the tool in the Photography workspace. In testing, it did a nearly perfect job, selecting me in a photo with a landscape background. You can use a brush to refine, add to, and remove selected area, as well. You get different view choices to see just how good the selection is, including white, black, or transparent checkerboard.

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In the next step, you can choose from several canned backgrounds (beaches, skies, or charming European street scenes) or use your own background image file.

AI Portrait Mode. I was expecting AI face manipulation tools like those in ON1 and Photoshop, but this tool is really just for selecting a subject and adding background blur. It works much like the iPhone's Portrait mode. The quality of the result depends on the accuracy of the selection. The selection wasn't perfect for my test shot, but luckily you can tweak it. Since the effect is simulating lens bokeh, it's interesting that you can choose between round and hexagonal apertures. I found that using the latter with less feathering worked best.

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Frame Tool. This is like a collage tool, though it doesn't include preset layouts into which you can drop photos and other kinds of images. It's more of a custom frame tool that handles layer groups for you. After tapping its toolbar button, you draw rectangles and ellipses and then drop the images onto them. Then, the tool creates the appropriate layer groups automatically. If you're looking for totally predesigned frames, head to the File > New from Template menu option.

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AI Denoise. This tool assuages one of my peeves about photo editing—having to fiddle with multiple sliders to remove noise. The Corel tool analyzes the image, and though this takes time, the result is impressive, as you can see in the image below (left side is before, right is after). You can drag the background around to position it to taste.

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It's hard to see, but the way it removed noise from the eye results in a much more natural image. Ironically, though some fine detail is smoothed over the image looks sharper because of the removed noise distortion. The program offers denoise tools in multiple menu options, but the AI version is under Adjust > Artificial Intelligence. An Enhanced option button makes the process take longer to deliver a better result, with less loss of detail. It reminds me of DxO's PureRAW, which similarly trades speed for better results. Corel's aren't, however, as astounding as those delivered by DxO's software.

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AI Upsampling. We've all had to deal with an image that was just too small or low-resolution for the purpose at hand. This tool does a remarkable job of removing that blocky effect when you enlarge such photos. The left side in the image above shows those blocky artifacts, while the right side uses Corel's AI Upsampling tool to produce a pleasing, smooth result. The tool offers denoising at the same time, but I was able to get this result without using any. Photoshop offers several sampling options for enlargement, but when I used them on the same image, none of them produced a result as good as this. They all still showed blockiness and artifact distortion.

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AI Artifact Removal. Designed particularly for JPG image compression, this tool seems to use similar technology to the AI Upsampling tool above. Like AI Denoise, this is a one-click tool that shows a creative full-screen animation while it's working. In my testing, the tool only worked with one kind of distortion—blocks resulting from JPEG compression. Blotchier distortion isn't corrected.

AI Style Transfer. This is an effect that an earlier version of PaintShop called Pic-to-Painting. It's only available in the minimalist Photography workspace along with other effects in an Instant Effects panel. These effects resemble the Prisma-app craze of a few years ago, and have appeared in many photo apps, notably the competing CyberLink PhotoDirector. They use AI technology to generate art from your photos resembling that of specific painters, such a Picasso or Van Gogh.

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Corel includes a good selection of painterly and artistic effects by default, while CyberLink requires extra downloading and charges extra for some of the effects. You can use a slider to adjust the strength of the effect, for a degree of customization. The Photography interface lets you use the split before-and-after view, seen above.

Three sliders for Strength, Color Match (new with the 2022 version), and Smooth Image only affect the small preview thumbnail before you apply the effect. One interface note: You need to double tap on the effect thumbnail to apply it, which isn't obvious at first. After you do so, you see an at-first jarring animation of constellations. I also encountered what seemed to be a bug: After applying one style transfer and then switching to another, the first one reappeared after processing.

Sea-to-Sky. This module looks exactly like the Photography workspace, but it starts by showing just four buttons: Corrective, Scenic, Low Light, and Creative. It's only available at the Ultimate level.

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Pretty much every option improved my underwater film shot, even though the effects don't specifically say "this one is for underwater, and this one is for drone shots." A drone shot I tested with was less successful—the effects were mostly just applied the objects on the ground, not to the sky. It did do a decent job of a hazy drone shot, though some color cast was added.

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For excellent sky fixes, check out Skylum Luminar. The Creative section offers some pleasing B&W, Sepia, Flare, and Retro effects.

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AI HDR Studio. This tool is only available with the Ultimate edition of PaintShop Pro. Corel decided not to fully integrate it with the outer program. It's only accessible as a plug-in from the Effects > Plug-ins menu, and its interface design is different from the rest of the program. It lets you do single-shot HDR effects, though the program supports traditional multi-shot HDR as well.

As with AI Style Transfer, you simply choose a look from a selection of 16 sample thumbnails and adjust the effect to taste. For me, the effects are a bit extreme, but drawing down the strength slider can get you a more realistic enhancement. Sadly, there's no before/after split screen view in this tool.

Advanced Photo Editing

Once you move into Edit mode, the full assortment of tools comes into play. Just as in Photoshop, you can add layers, manipulate grouped objects, and adjust curves and levels. Layers are much better done than in ON1 Photo Raw, with a more Photoshop-like, clear view of each layer in an optional panel. You can create Vector, Raster, Art Media, Mask, and Adjustment layer types, with all the blending modes you'd expect.

The Curves tool is particularly powerful, allowing up to 16 control points, which let me create some crazy effects. The Retro lab makes up for Instant Effects' lack of adjustability in a big way. It lets you adjust blur, diffuse, glow, color, and more.

Two selection tools, Smart Selection and Auto Selection, are similar to Photoshop's magic wand. The first did a decent job of letting me brush to create an edge-detected selection. But the Auto Selection is more impressive. You draw a box, and the tool selects an object inside it. In my testing, this only worked with very uniform backgrounds (a clear sky, for example) and objects with well-defined edges. Still, it's a useful tool for plucking a head off and using it against a different background. In the right circumstances, it works quite well.

The Refine Brush tool can fine-tune any selection you've made. It's effective on difficult subjects like hair or tree lines. After you make a selection, a Refine Brush button appears at top right. This opens an adjustment panel that lets you set the tool's size, smoothness, feathering, and border. You can show a red, black, or transparent background to better see your selection. When you're done, output options include selection, mask, new layer, and new mask layer.

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The tool did an excellent job automatically selecting individual hairs in my testing. Adobe has made a big deal about its new technology for selecting hair in portraits, but I don’t think it’s significantly better than Corel’s tool. If you select too much, a Remove brush option lets you fix it.

Content-aware object removal and moving is a recent addition. This lets you improve composition by moving or removing an object within a photo, often a human, while maintaining the background. For removal, you have to select some background to replace the object with, so it's not as automatic as the equivalent tool in Adobe Photoshop Elements. The clone stamp tool shows a preview where you're about to apply it, and like all the tools and brushes, the size slider is based on your image size, which helps prevent you from getting a tiny brush when you need to make big changes, for example.

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The tattoo on the left was added using PaintShop's SmartClone tool.

Smart Clone lets you choose a shape from the top toolbar to select an area for cloning, and then choose a blend mode (Blend, Original, or Black and White) to determine how the cloned image will appear when you stamp it on something else. The clone is available immediate for stamping when you finish selecting. You can also now save clone selections as presets for reuse later.

Palettes, Brushes, and Gradients

For creative types, PaintShop Pro offers more reasons not to pay Adobe monthly subscription fees, with its many color palettes, brushes, gradients, picture tubes, and textures.

These are accessible from the Materials panel, and editable in the Materials Properties dialog. You get patterns and textures as well as gradients. And you can download more from Corel. It's at least as good as what you get with Adobe Photoshop Elements, but not quite as infinitely tweakable as Photoshop.

One cool capability in PaintShop is the ability to create your own custom brush tips. I used a small image of the flag of Canada for this. Another capability that will be welcome to users ofgraphics design software is the program's support for vector graphics, including SVG files (import only). You can even mix vector and raster image layers in the same file. But don't expect all the dazzling tools you get inAdobe Illustrator, such as the Puppet Warp tool for intelligently and automatically transforming drawing proportions and positions.

Camera Raw Lab

When you start Edit mode with a raw camera file loaded, PaintShop opens the Lab interface, which is a lot like Photoshop's equivalent Camera Raw window. Here you can not only change the white balance and recover highlights, but also apply lens-profile-based corrections for chromatic aberration and vignetting. I'm not impressed with PaintShop's version of lens profile correction. I still didn't see any correction of geometric distortion, and vignette correction overcompensated in some test photos. Chromatic aberration wasn't removed automatically, but the program has a good tool for this in the Complete Editing interface. Most lens profile correction depends on people creating the profiles, so it's not an exact science. DxO PhotoLab excels at this type of correction.

Some of the adjustments in this part of the program—particularly noise reduction and Balanced Highlight Recovery—are still slower than the equivalents inLightroomand Photoshop. In recent releases, Corel has made an effort to speed up a lot of the program's most common functions and in its startup time, and it does feel more responsive. Finally, you don't get several of the adjustments Adobe Camera Raw offers, including,

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The Lab recognized raw files from my older Canon EOS 6D with a 24-105 zoom lens, but also from a Nikon Z 7 with a 24-70mm f/4 S lens, so support is fairly up to date. It even was able to open a CR3 raw file from the Canon EOS R. For automatic chromatic aberration correction, you're much better off with Lightroom orDxO PhotoLab. When I imported shots from a Canon Rebel T3i, a well-established model, the automatic lens-profile fixes didn't visibly correct geometry distortions at the edge of the picture.

More Helpful Tools

Project Templates.PaintShop's templates are a boon to non-designers who just need to create a card, collage, or brochure. They're really just predesigned layer groups, into which you drag your own images. The downside is that many cost a few bucks, though some are free.

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Screen Capture.I usually use Shift-Windows key–S for my screen capturing with the Snip & Sketch tool. Corel's does let you use a hotkey and a timer delay, which I consider essential, but unlike SnagIt's, it doesn't work in the background. You have to open the program and tell it to prepare to take the screenshot. It does offer several capture styles, including one that lets you select the rectangular area you want to shoot with the mouse. I prefer a separate screenshot tool, but if you want to capture and start editing right away, PaintShop's feature does the job.

Text Tools.Entering text was delay-free in my testing. Text capabilities include superscript, subscript, and justification. The nifty Paste-to-Fit option lets your text match a shape in your image. It's not quite as cool as Photoshop Elements' ability to wrap text around a curved shape in your image, however. You can hollow out text and create raster cutouts, which is a powerful effect. But for really impressive font work, PaintShop can't compete with Photoshop, which lets you mess with the actual character shapes using glyphs and apply effects like 3D extrusion.

Windows Stylus.PaintShop Pro supports Windows Real-Time Stylus (WinRTS) and WinTab-based devices, such as the pen that comes with the Surface line of convertible PCs. I tested this on a Surface Book, and indeed I was able to draw, complete with pressure sensitivity. You can also use the pen for any menus and settings. As mentioned, though, the Complete interface workspace isn't well-adapted to touch-screen input, with some inconveniently small controls.

Output and Sharing

From Edit mode's File menu, you can export to all the expected formats; JPEG, GIF, and PNG optimizers and an image slicer are useful extras for web producers. Printing options abound, too, with CMYK separations, and standard layout presets. It even offers soft-proofing with a wide variety of printer profiles in the Color Management settings.

For online sharing, PaintShop can open your email client and attach your image. Corel has removed the direct social sharing features since the social networks keep changing their APIs. Like Photoshop, PaintShop lets you optimize images for display on webpages.

(Video) Getting Started with PaintShop Pro 2022

Help and tutorials for the application are worthy of mention. Unfortunately, the help has moved to the web, so you can't access it if you're working offline. But it covers every feature in the app and lets you easily find the topic you're looking for. Video tutorials do a good job of showing you how to use all the new features and perform popular edits, and there's a Learning Center panel that takes you through features right in the program.

A Fully Stocked Shop

Corel PaintShop Pro is a high-bang-for-the-buck Photoshop substitute, requiring no monthly subscription. The app gets points for the sheer number of tools it throws at you, many of which acceptably mimic their Photoshop counterparts—that even goes for some advanced tools like content-aware move, gradients, and effect filters. PaintShop also lets you create and edit both raster and vector images, which requires two Adobe apps.

For photographers less interested in visual arts and crafts, our photo workflow Editors' Choice winner, Lightroom Classic, is a better choice. The $99.99 Adobe Photoshop Elements, our Editors' Choice pick for enthusiast photo software, offers many of Adobe's unmatched photo-manipulation tools and a great selection of guided edit effects. Because it still is the state of the art, Photoshop remains PCMag's image editing Editors' Choice winner, but Windows-using pros who need that program's more-common tools are likely to be satisfied with this budget option.

Corel PaintShop Pro

4.0

(Opens in a new window)

See It$59.99 at Amazon(Opens in a new window)

MSRP $79.99

Pros

  • Photoshop-like features at a lower price

  • Powerful effects and editing tools

  • Extensive help and tutorials

  • Good assortment of vector drawing tools

  • Automatic noise removal

View More

Cons

  • Inconsistent interface

  • No macOS version

  • Some operations slow

The Bottom Line

Corel continues to add new photo editing possibilities to its PaintShop Pro software, making it a worthy Photoshop alternative on Windows for a budget-conscious, one-time price.

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FAQs

Is Corel PaintShop Pro good for beginners? ›

Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 is an image editing software designed for beginners but caters to professional editors and is infused with AI features and tools.

Is Corel PaintShop Pro as good as Photoshop? ›

Corel PaintShop Pro is an excellent image editing, drawing and painting program with some innovative features. For most users and uses it provides an excellent alternative to Photoshop, although professional users will feel the lack of extensive color management support and other more advanced technical features.

Does PaintShop Pro still exist? ›

Make every shot your best shot with PaintShop® Pro 2023, an advanced photo editor delivering a versatile range of pro-level editing and graphic design tools along with time-saving AI-based solutions.

How many computers can I install PaintShop Pro 2022? ›

It's not a surprise to know that PaintShop Pro allows users to use their license on two different computers.

Is it worth upgrading PaintShop Pro 2022? ›

PaintShop Pro 2022 is the latest version of a program that has a long-standing history as a Windows-based PC image editing program. The 2022 version is less of an upgrade than 2021, but still provides enough new features to potentially entice users requiring specific functionality to upgrade.

What do professionals use to edit photos? ›

Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom remains the gold standard in pro photo workflow software. It's a complete package, with top-notch organization tools, state-of-the-art adjustments, and all the output and printing options you could want.

What is the difference between PaintShop and Photoshop? ›

PaintShop Pro software is specially designed for Microsoft Windows operating systems. Photoshop software is designed for both Microsoft Windows and Mac operating systems. You can have a license of PaintShop pro software forever by paying a one-time price.

What is the difference between Corel Painter and Corel PaintShop Pro? ›

Painter is geared entirely toward digital painting. Photoshop and PaintShop Pro do photo retouching as well as painting.

What can I use instead of PaintShop Pro? ›

Top 10 Alternatives to Paintshop Pro
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
  • GIMP.
  • Photoshop Elements.
  • ACDSee.
  • Affinity Photo.
  • PhotoDirector.
  • Capture One Pro.
  • Luminar.

What is the difference between PaintShop Pro and Ultimate? ›

PaintShop Pro 2022 costs $80 for new users and $60 for upgrades. The Ultimate version is $100 and $80 for an upgrade. Ultimate's $20 extra cost includes several features not found in PaintShop Pro 2022, including the Highlight Reel and MultiCam Capture Lite applications mentioned above.

How much does PaintShop Pro cost? ›

How Much Does PaintShop Pro Cost? PaintShop Pro 2022 is available directly from Corel or via retail for $79.99 (or $59.99 as an upgrade from any previous version); it's frequently discounted.

Is PaintShop Pro free? ›

Comprehensive Photo & Picture-Editing Software

At home and at work, there's only one way to get this kind of versatility, value and performance—subscription free. That's the power of PaintShop Pro.

Can I have Corel Painter on two computers? ›

Upgrades are included with subscription and ensure that you can always use the most up-to-date version of your Corel Painter product as long as your subscription is active. This license may be used on up to two (2) computing devices (not concurrently) of different platforms.

Can I install Corel Painter on multiple computers? ›

Yes, owners of Corel PaintShop Pro can install on up to two devices.

How do I blur the background in PaintShop Pro 2022? ›

To apply motion blurring:
  1. Apply Motion Blur. Choose Adjust > Blur > Motion Blur. ...
  2. Set an angle. In the Angle group box, drag the angle dial, or type or set a value in the control, to set an angle from which the blurring is applied.
  3. Control the strength. Type or set a value in the Strength control.

Does PaintShop Pro have face recognition? ›

1 In the Navigation palette, click the Collections tab. 2 Navigate to the folder containing the images that you want to sort. If no photos are selected, face recognition is applied to the whole folder.

Does PaintShop Pro work with Windows 10? ›

Does PaintShop Pro work on Windows 10? PaintShop Pro is compatible with Windows 10. The tool will run perfectly smoothly on Windows 10 provided that your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

What is the most common photo editing tool used? ›

Most talk about Adobe Photoshop, which seems to be the most commonly used tool. As great as Adobe is, it's not the only credible photo editing software out there. In fact, there are plenty of photo editing software available on the market to explore and choose from.

What is the easiest Photoshop program to use? ›

1. Adobe Photoshop Elements. Ideal for beginner and intermediate photographers, this photo editing software is a simpler version of its big brother, the industry-grade Adobe Photoshop. It has all the necessary features you need to organize, edit, and share your photos.

How long does it take to learn how do you use Photoshop? ›

Photographers love Photoshop because of its large variety of useful tools and its easy workflow. It usually takes around 2-3 months for a professional photographer to master Photoshop. However, the learning time is subjected to the learning process and the learner.

Should you edit RAW or JPEG? ›

Raw has more options for correcting exposure issues

With a JPEG, white balance is applied by the camera, and there are fewer options to modify it in post-processing. With a raw file, you have complete control over white balance when editing the image. Lost detail in overexposed highlights cannot be recovered in a JPEG.

How much should I pay someone to edit my photos? ›

You should charge $25–$150 per hour for photo editing, depending on your experience, skill level, complexity of edits, turnaround time, and number of photos.

Can you get paid to edit photos? ›

Photo editors can make money in a variety of ways. Many professional photographers will hire a photo editor to organize, edit, and export all their photos from a shoot. This not only saves them a ton of time but lessens their workload, making you a valuable asset.

How do I use PaintShop pro 2022? ›

Getting Started with PaintShop Pro 2022 - YouTube

Is Corel software good? ›

CorelDRAW is also a popular design program that many designers use for print design, drawings, and even industrial design. Both software allows you to create freehand drawings and vector graphics using their powerful tools.

Is GIMP the same as Photoshop? ›

Key Difference between GIMP and Photoshop

GIMP is a FREE image editing software, whereas Photoshop is a PAID image editing software. GIMP and Photoshop both contain numerous plugins, but photoshop plugins are designed by famous photo brands like Phase One, Kodak, and more.

How do I install perfectly clear in Paint Shop? ›

To launch Perfectly Clear, open your image under the Edit tab in PaintShop Pro. Go to Effects > Plugins > Athentech Imaging > Perfectly Clear v3. This will bring up the Perfectly Clear interface.

Who makes PaintShop Pro? ›

Corel PaintShop

What is Corel Ai HDR Studio? ›

AI HDR Studio instantly give your photos a unique HDR effect with an exclusive collection of presets powered by artificial intelligence. You can use this feature by selecting the Effects menu > Plugins > AI HDR Studio.

Is there a free program like Photoshop? ›

Some of the best free Photoshop alternatives in 2021:
  • Luminar.
  • Apple Photos.
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Photos.
  • GIMP.
  • Photo Pos Pro.
  • RawTherapee.
  • Pixlr.
  • Paint.NET.

Is there a free photo editor? ›

The Free & Open Source Image Editor

GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, you can change its source code and distribute your changes.

What's new in PaintShop Pro 2021 Ultimate? ›

PaintShop Pro 2021 Ultimate delivers a wide range of pro-level photo editing and graphic design capabilities plus a bonus pack of premium software, including: AI HDR Studio – Instantly give your photos a unique HDR effect with an exclusive collection of presets powered by artificial intelligence.

How do I add brushes to paint shop pro? ›

Here's how to import a custom brush in Corel PaintShop Pro:
  1. Choose File >> Import >> Custom Brush to open the Import Custom Brush dialog box.
  2. Click the Open button tobring upthe Open dialog.,
  3. Locate and select the brush or brushes file that you want to import, and then click the Open button.

What is a PSP image? ›

A PSPIMAGE file is a graphics image saved using Corel PaintShop Pro software that is used for image and digital photo editing. It supports saving image data in both raster and vector file formats. PSPIMAGE files support edits made to an image such as layers, transparency, filters and other image effects.

Which is better Corel or Photoshop? ›

Winner: Adobe Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop has a wider variety of features than CorelDraw. While CorelDraw is still a powerful vector-editing program, Photoshop's tools offer more precision, and you can do more with the software. Examples include animation, raster-based illustration, and more.

Is Corel Painter free? ›

Create next-level results with trusted, professional digital art software. Sketch, paint, illustrate and produce unparalleled photo-art with hundreds of impeccably realistic artist-created brushes, superior blending, and an array of versatile art tools.

How good is affinity photo? ›

Affinity Photo is a powerful, low-cost image editing program, but it trails Adobe's products in terms of both usability and advanced capabilities. If it does what you need—layers, color manipulation, it could be a way to save quite a bit if Adobe's apps are beyond your means.

Can you draw with PaintShop Pro? ›

You can use Corel PaintShop Pro drawing tools to create any type of object — from simple lines and shapes to complex illustrations.

Can PaintShop Pro use Photoshop plugins? ›

For example, PaintShop Pro currently supports four of eight Photoshop plugin interfaces.

Does Microsoft Office have a photo editor? ›

Microsoft Office has enhanced photo editing features to help when adding pictures in your documents. You can adjust the picture brightness or contrast, remove the background, use artist affects, add a border, rotate, crop or resize a picture.

How many computers can I install PaintShop Pro 2022? ›

It's not a surprise to know that PaintShop Pro allows users to use their license on two different computers.

Is CorelDRAW one time purchase? ›

One-Time Purchase

At just , save off the monthly plan. One low price for access to the latest version and collaboration tools. Buy it once, own it forever. Access to CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2021 only.

Is Corel Painter 2021 a subscription? ›

Remarkably affordable—and subscription free!

Corel's low-cost pricing and flexible licensing options mean any business can afford digital art software at an extremely affordable price!

How many computers can I use Corel on? ›

Notwithstanding Your right to download and install the Software on two Devices, You may only use the Software on one Device at a time.

How many computers can I install Corel VideoStudio on? ›

#2 One device per license

Adobe, at least, lets you use the software on two computers, but with VideoStudio, you can use it only on a single computer.

How many computers can I install WordPerfect on? ›

(https://www.corel.com/en/eula/) Depending on where you live, you can install WordPerfect Office on up to two (2) devices if you have a second computer, but still limited to you only being able to use the software on one (1) of those devices at a time.

What is the difference between Corel Painter and Corel PaintShop Pro? ›

Painter is geared entirely toward digital painting. Photoshop and PaintShop Pro do photo retouching as well as painting.

What can I do with PaintShop Pro? ›

Make every shot your best shot with PaintShop® Pro 2023 Ultimate, an advanced photo editor delivering a versatile range of pro-level editing and graphic design tools, time-saving AI-based solutions, and a bonus pack of premium software.

Is PaintShop Pro free? ›

Comprehensive Photo & Picture-Editing Software

At home and at work, there's only one way to get this kind of versatility, value and performance—subscription free. That's the power of PaintShop Pro.

Does PaintShop Pro work with Windows 10? ›

Does PaintShop Pro work on Windows 10? PaintShop Pro is compatible with Windows 10. The tool will run perfectly smoothly on Windows 10 provided that your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

Does PaintShop Pro have face recognition? ›

1 In the Navigation palette, click the Collections tab. 2 Navigate to the folder containing the images that you want to sort. If no photos are selected, face recognition is applied to the whole folder.

What is the difference between PaintShop Pro 2022 and PaintShop Pro Ultimate? ›

PaintShop Pro 2022 costs $80 for new users and $60 for upgrades. The Ultimate version is $100 and $80 for an upgrade. Ultimate's $20 extra cost includes several features not found in PaintShop Pro 2022, including the Highlight Reel and MultiCam Capture Lite applications mentioned above.

How do I use PaintShop pro 2022? ›

Getting Started with PaintShop Pro 2022 - YouTube

Can PaintShop Pro use Photoshop Plugins? ›

For example, PaintShop Pro currently supports four of eight Photoshop plugin interfaces.

Is there a free photo editor? ›

The Free & Open Source Image Editor

GIMP is a cross-platform image editor available for GNU/Linux, macOS, Windows and more operating systems. It is free software, you can change its source code and distribute your changes.

Is Corel software good? ›

CorelDRAW is also a popular design program that many designers use for print design, drawings, and even industrial design. Both software allows you to create freehand drawings and vector graphics using their powerful tools.

Can you draw with PaintShop Pro? ›

You can use Corel PaintShop Pro drawing tools to create any type of object — from simple lines and shapes to complex illustrations.

How much does PaintShop Pro cost? ›

How Much Does PaintShop Pro Cost? PaintShop Pro 2022 is available directly from Corel or via retail for $79.99 (or $59.99 as an upgrade from any previous version); it's frequently discounted.

Does Microsoft Office have a photo editor? ›

Microsoft Office has enhanced photo editing features to help when adding pictures in your documents. You can adjust the picture brightness or contrast, remove the background, use artist affects, add a border, rotate, crop or resize a picture.

Does PaintShop pro work on Windows 11? ›

Yes, PaintShop Pro 2022, is compatible with Windows 11. Previous versions of PaintShop Pro are supported on the specific versions of Windows they were designed for.

Videos

1. Corel PaintShop Pro 2023 Review | for Windows
(William PC)
2. NEW! AfterShot Lab in PaintShop Pro
(Corel Discovery Center)
3. Corel Paint Shop Pro X8, REVIEW
(Gripps2211)
4. What's New in PaintShop Pro 2023
(Corel Discovery Center)
5. What's New in PaintShop Pro 2021
(Corel PaintShopPro)
6. PaintShop Pro and Photoshop comparison
(Corel PaintShopPro)

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