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PSP 8: Introduction
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PSP 8: Introduction
Created by:Prof

In this and subsequent tutorials, we will explore the new PSP version 8. There are new looks to this version plus new features and opportunities to create complex images. And, the new features open up new opportunities. Also, knowing PSP 7, transfer to using PSP 8 will be relatively easy.

We will begin by exploring the differences between version 7 and version 8. Fundamentally, the appearance of the tools, palettes and other toolbars are not substantially different. However, learning the changes in PSP 8 does require a bit of time to become acquainted with the differences from PSP 7. Changes include the location for certain features and there are new looks to the palettes. There are many new features and additions in this version.

The best teacher is to experience so just enjoy using PSP 8. Explore it, experiment with it, try it out and you will quickly find it has some exceptionally fine and new features.

PSP 7: Toolbars and Palettes

PSP 8: Toolbars

PSP 8: Palettes

Toolbars and Palettes

Basic difference in the displaying of toolbars and palettes are in the way they are accessed. However, in both programs the toolbars and palettes can be docked outside the PSP desktop (work area). (I will not review any shortcut keys and/or differences.)


PSP 7:

  • Accessed by: View || Toolbars
  • Both toolbars and palettes are selected from the same window.
  • There are six (6) toolbars: Standard, Web, Photo, Effects, Browser and Status.

PSP 8:

  • Toolbars and palettes are accessed individually.
  • Toolbars are accessed by: View || Toolbars
  • There are eight (8) toolbars: the six from PSP 7 plus Script (ability to record keystrokes and save them to repeat steps), and Tools (in PSP 7 this was a palette).


PSP 7:

  • Accessed by: View || Toolbars
  • There are five (5) palettes and two (2) windows: Tool, Color, Tool Options and Layer, and Histogram and Overview.

PSP 8:

  • Accessed by: View || Palettes
  • There are five (5) palettes and three (3) windows: Materials (in PSP 7 this was Color), Tool Options, Layers, Brush Variance and Script Output, and Histogram, Overview and Learning Center.

The Materials Palette (formerly: Color Palette)

The Color palette is redesigned and combines a number of features into its appearance and use. The palette can be sized and docked anywhere you want. I have docked it to the right side of my PSP work area and made it 100 pixels wide. Also note that the palette is now called 'Materials'.

The first difference to note is that the options for 'Solid Color', 'Gradient', 'Pattern' and 'Null' are now combined below the color box to 'Color', 'Texture' and 'Transparent'. There are no longer separate boxes for Foreground and Background Texture as these options are now combined with the main Foreground and Background boxes.

Above the Color box there are two tabs: One for Colors and the other for 'Swatches'. A new feature, swatches are used to save specific and frequently used color (material) schemes.

As in other PSP versions, one is able to just use the color box to select either a foreground color (left mouse click) or background color (right mouse click).

Clicking on the 'Color' button below either the Foreground or Background Material box, one accesses the options of 'Solid Color', 'Gradient' and 'Pattern'.

To access the various colors, textures, gradients, or patterns, one clicks on the Material box. The dialog window that now opens has some new features. All options are combined in this dialog.

  • There are three tabs: Color, Gradient, and Pattern
    • Color tab: The basic color wheel and value boxes for decimal and hexadecimal as well as R,G,B and H,S,L.
    • Gradient tab: The Gradient dialog is displayed so one is able to select the gradient wanted. There are also some very new and neat gradients.
    • Pattern tab: The pattern dialog is displayed and one is able to select the pattern wanted. There are also some very new and neat patterns.
  • The Textures area: This area allows one to select a texture to combine with any of the other options.

All in all, the changes to the palette display make it much easier to select options and view them in the main canvas.

Tools Tool Bar

The Tools toolbar is redesigned and tools are organized by function. Those tool functions which have more than one tool associated together are accessed by clicking on the little arrow in the Tools toolbar.

This toolbar, as others, can be sized and docked anywhere. When a tool is activated it will be displayed and highlighted with a lighter background color. I have it located on the left side of my workspace.

The Pan and Zoom tools are combined. The neat feature of this toolbar is that when you select a tool, that tool's icon will show on the toolbar. Currently the Pan Tool is the active tool and therefore is displayed as the icon.

The Deformation tool has four (4) deformation options:

  • Deform: this tool is the same as in previous versions and functions the same.
  • Straighten: will straighten images that may be out of alignment.
  • Perspective Correction: has some interesting opportunities to correct the perspective of the image.
  • Mesh Warp: is a most interesting tool that allows the deformation of sections of an image using a mesh network to locate the area to deform.

All Deformation tools function as previously known by using the handles. Some new tools will also allow the use of the Shift and/or Control keys.

The Crop and the Move tools remain unchanged and are individually accessed. However, the Tool Options palette will have a couple of additional options for the Crop tool for easier selection of an object.

The Selection tool, the Freehand Selection tool, and the Magic Wand tool are combined.

The Selection tool also has the snap-to-object options similar to the Crop tool. The Freehand Selection tool has an additional option for seeking edges. The Magic Wand functions as it does in previous versions.

The Dropper and the Color Replacer tools are combined in the Tools toolbar. Both of these tools work much as they did in earlier versions. The Tool Options palettes though allow more easy access to various options.

The Paint Brush and the Airbrush tools are combined in the Tools toolbar and include a new brush, the Warp Brush tool.

The Paint Brush and Airbrush tools work much the same as they did in the previous versions of PSP. They have a couple of additional options, one of which is the rotation of the brush swhape.

The new Warp Brush tool has some neat features. Dependent upon the brush option being used, some very interesting opportunities exist to add shapes, twirls, or expand areas to an image in an easy way that can enhance an image.

The Clone tool is combined with the Scratch Remover tool. The Clone tool works as it has in previous versions. The Scratch Remover tool was a new tool in version 7 (which I have not yet experimented with so am not sure how it works at this time).

The Retouch tool from earlier versions is now set up as two tools: One tool works with the action of the brush by either changing the images color (Dodge, Burn, Emboss) or to Smudge or Push or to Soften or Sharpen the image.

The other brush works with the color aspects of the image: Lighten/Darken, Saturation, Hue or Color to Target.

Basically, these two sets of tools work in a similar way as did the Retouch tool from earlier versions. They allow changing areas of an image or the whole image and are ways to "retouch" the image.

The Eraser tool works the same as it did in earlier versions. It has now a new tool, the Background Eraser, which allows to just erase a particular background color.

The Picture Tube tool,
the Flood Fill tool,
the Text tool,
the Preset Shapes tool,
the Pen tool (previously the Drawing tool), and
the Object Selection tool.

These tools function much as they did in the earlier versions. Interestingly, painting with these tools, though similar to other versions, have some neat and easy to use options.

The Text tool is redesigned. The options are in the Tool Options palette. The Text is in a separate box.

The Pen tool (formerly the Draw tool) is redesigned. This tool from what I am able to determine right now is the one used when working with vector objects as well as with raster layer objects.

The Object Selection tool appears to be redesigned and now just selects the area of a vector object. Working with nodes appears to be from the Pen tool. (Working with vectors is something I will be exploring with these new tools and provide information in a later tutorial.)

The Tools toolbar can also be configured differently if one wishes to customize it. This approach will be explored in another tutorial.

The Tool Options Palette

The Tool Options palette is completely redesigned. Contained are all the various options for each of the tools. The displayed palette above is for the Paint Brush tool. However, most tools will have very similar features. Some less and some more than what is displayed here.

One can now save settings as presets for the various tools.

The brush shapes exist for most tools and function like the custom brush setting in PSP 7. One will have either a circle or square brush tip as standard options.

Clicking on any right arrow opens up the additional options not able to be displayed in the full palette. One will need to explore how this palette works for the tools, but the learning curve is very short and once learned, one will find this palette exceptionally useful.

The palette can also be docked anywhere. In my workspace I have the palette located at the top of the workspace below the Standard toolbar which is below the Menu bar.

The Menu Bar

The Menu bar has the same menu items as in version 7 with the addition of an "Adjust" menu item. There is no longer a "Colors" menu item as most of its options have been included in the Adjust menu item. Also, there is no "Masks" menu item as its features are combined in the Layers menu item.

One should take some time to see how version 8 is organized and what new options exist in various menu items.

PSP 7:

PSP 8:

The "File" Menu Item

If not commented upon, then the features are the same for both versions.

One is able to fully customize the way PSP appears and functions with toolbars and palettes. Another tutorial will provide information on setting up PSP with its various toolbars and palettes and use this feature to save different workspaces.

Version 8 offers the possibility to import custom brushes. One imports custom brushes into PSP 8 in order to have them displayed. Version 8 only has new brushes.
Version 8 does not have an import plug-in feature. Plugins are 'imported' using the "File Location Preferences" feature which will be explored in another tutorial.

Export has two new features: Custom Brush and Picture Frame.

The Script feature is totally new to Version 8 and allows one to script basic steps that then can be repeated by running the script.

The rest of the menu items are much the same in version 8 as in version 7.

The "Edit" Menu Item

The Edit menu is the same in PSP 8 as in version 7.

PSP 7:

PSP 8:

The "View" Menu Item

The basic differences include version 8 having a toolbar and a palette feature. These features allow selecting which toolbars and palettes will be visible.

PSP 8 also has a Magnifier which allows looking at sections of an image with a 5x zoom.

Docking Options allows setting the various preferences (Misc., Undo, View, Display/Caching, Palettes, Browser, Units, Transparency, Warnings, Auto Action). It is worthwhile to explore this item as it is a way to set personal preferences in how PSP looks and works.

Customize allows the setting of various bars such as the Standard toolbar. For the Tools toolbar, instead of having areas combined one could have all tools as individual icons for selection.

PSP 7:
PSP 8:

The "Image" Menu Item

There are a number of changes in this menu item. Many items from other version 7 menu items are now combined into the Image menu item.

From the version 7 Colors menu, the Palette, Color Depth and the Split Channel options are now in version 8 Image menu.

The "Effects" Menu Item

Version 8 has re-organized the Effects menu and added new items.

The Effect Browser displays thumbnails of the image with the effects applied; it is, however, organized a bit differently from earlier versions.

The 3D Effects are the same as in earlier versions. The main difference is in the effect dialogs. All are organized to show every available option and there is a neat new feature that will randomize the values.

Art Media Effects is a new category but just combines the pencil, charcoal, and chalk effects that were in the PSP 7 Artistic Effects.

Artistic Effects contain all the same effects as in version 7 (except the ones above). There are three new effects added: Balls and Bubbles, Halftone, and Magnifying Lens.

Distortion Effects is a new item which takes many of the effects from the PSP 7 Geometric Effects. There are two new effects: Lens Distortion and Polar Coordinates.

Edge Effects is the same as in version 7.

The Geometric Effects item now only contains those effects working with geometric shapes. There is one new effect: Spherize.

The Illumination Effects are the same as in version 7.

Image Effects is a new item and has the version 7 Page Curl effect plus two new effects: Offset and Seamless Tiling.

The Reflection Effects and the Texture Effects are the same as in version 7.

The "Adjust" Menu Item

The Adjust menu is a new menu item and contains all the photograph enhancement effects, Blurs, Noise, Sharpness and Softness. It also has a new effect: Lens Correction.

PSP 7:
PSP 8:

The "Layers" Menu Item

The Layers menu is reorganized. It has similar features as in version 7. It combines from PSP 7 the "Masks" menu items. It also combines from PSP 7's "Colors" menu "Count Layer Colors" item.

New features are the ability to "Group" layers and a "View Overlay" which I have not yet figured out.

PSP 7:
PSP 8:

The "Objects" Menu Item

The Objects menu is reorganized. It has similar features as in version 7.

It includes items from vector editing found in PSP 7's node editing function.

However, I have yet to figure out how these items work. It appears there is a relationship between the Pen tool, the Object Selection tool and the Preset Shapes tool.

The "Selections" Menu Item

The Selections menu is fundamentally the same as in version 7. It is organized a bit differently, but one will not have difficulty using it for the types of functions one is already familiar with in version 7.

There is a new feature: Edit, which I believe is similar to the editing function of the Pen Tool. However, I will need to figure out more about this new item.

The "Window" Menu Item

The Window menu is the same as in version 7. It has one additional item of making the active image able to be viewed full size (or enlarged to the size of the PSP desktop).

The "Help" Menu Item

The Help menu is much the same as in version 7. It has a new item for being able to view the keyboard shortcuts, which is a handy new feature.

Final Comments

The major changes in version 8 have been reviewed in this tutorial. There are other changes and enhancements in the new program. As new tutorials are written, I will also be reviewing some items not reviewed in this overview.

Again, the best way to become familiar with PSP 8 is to use it, experiment, try things out and you will shortly come to find this version has some exceptionally fine and neat new features.

The organization of PSP 8 is also better in that it allows the grouping of similar function that will make it much easier to find these once you become familiar with the new layout.

Here is one image using a number of new PSP version 8 features.

Have fun. Prof