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Software Review of:
Photo-Paint 11


Clarke Bird

From the October, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

Want to buy Corel’s Photo-Paint? You can’t. No way, no how. “How is that?” you ask. Corel decided several years ago not to go head-to-head with Adobe Photoshop with Photo-Paint, whose tools are just about on par with Photoshop. In fact, I use both programs, using one or the other as the mood strikes me — but often times, I find myself trying to do the steps to a procedure in one program that actually belongs in the other.

Instead of selling Photo-Paint individually, Corel instead chose to bundle it with CorelDRAW for nada, zip, free. Also, when you buy CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 11, you get Corel Capture, R.A.V.E, Corel Trace and Bitstream Font Manager. That’s a nice package but since CorelDRAW 11 is being reviewed elsewhere in this issue, I’ll stick to Photo-Paint 11.

I’ve been using Photo-Paint since version 9 and frankly, I love it. Everything you can do in Photoshop, you can do in Photo-Paint, except you go about it a little differently. Since the casual user can’t buy P-P outright, I’ll address this review to prior owners of Photo-Paint and tell you what is new in version 11.

There’s a new look in version 11. The new color control area allows the user to view and quickly choose background, foreground and fill colors.

Property bars now offer basic and advanced modes for each tool. The most used options on the basic property bar are easily accessible and by extending the property bar, advance options are displayed. The least-used options are accessible in menus.

There are several new photo editing tools you will like. The red-eye removal tool actually works. Sharing space on the flyout with the Clone tool, the red-eye removal tool offers a paintbrush “nib” which you select a size to match the iris of the eye in the photo. Click on the mouse and zap, red-eye is gone. Move the brush to the other eye and poof, no more red-eye.

Dust and scratch removal is accomplished by a new filter. Initially I didn’t get the hang of this tool but by masking a smaller area of the photo, it worked like a charm. This new filter is under Image, Correction, Dust and Scratch (Figure 2). A window opens with controls to allow you to adjust the level of sensitivity of the process. This is an impressive enhancement and I will have to spend more time becoming acquainted with it.

Highlighter tool is a new tool to use to remove areas from an image. It took a couple of tries to figure out how this tool works but when I figured out what I had been doing wrong, this tool will become an absolute favorite when working with graphic images. In essence, you draw around the outside edges of an object with the highlighter, fill the inside of the object with the paint bucket and process the image. Anything remaining outside the filled area is poof. You can preview the cut-out image with the background removed. Don’t like what you see? You can then erase and redo sections of the highlighted area. You control the thickness of the highlighter to obtain the best results. To make the process easier, you can change the highlight and/or fill color. The instruction book claims it will work even on detailed images such as smoke or hair. I’m thinking this may be the “son of KnockOut” (see review elsewhere in this issue). To use this new tool, click on Image, Cutout and then click on Highlighter tool. A new window will pop open with sensitivity controls for the rest of the process. This tool is a neat addition to the program.

There is improved image stitching to version 11 but I had difficulty making it work. Image stitching is “welding” two or more images together to create a large or panoramic image. I’ll have to return to this new tool to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

EXIF is something neat. Did you know that data is embedded in digital camera photos? EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File format. The time and date, exposure and flash settings are recorded. Figure 4 shows the data on a photo I took with my JVC Digital movie camera.

Several new creative effects are now available in Photo-Paint 11:
A new 3D Bevel effect lets you create the appearance of a raised surface by applying a sloped edge along an editable area. You could use it to add depth to text or to create 3D buttons for the Web.

A Spot Filter effect mimics photographic filters by controlling the focus area in an image (subject close to camera is in-focus, area behind subject is fuzzy).

Lens Flare effect produces rings of light, simulating the flare that appears in a photograph when the camera is pointed toward a direct, bright light.

Drop Shadows has been improved in version 11. You have several options to modify the shadow from creating a flat drop shadow, a perspective drop shadow or feathering to create realistic-looking drop shadows.

So the question is, should you upgrade to CorelDRAW 11 to get these improvements in Photo-Paint? Let me make it easy for you. If you are currently using DRAW version 9, you should upgrade. You missed some neat changes introduced in Photo-Paint version 10, such as “Fitting Text to a Path”. If you don’t upgrade, the graphics world is changing and you’re not changing with it and you will find yourself pretty far down on the curve.

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