PaintShop Pro X6

Corel has released Paintshop Pro X6 and before we look at their newest offering, here's a brief review of previous versions of the program.

There are approximately 2.6 million users worldwide using Version X3 through X5 which is a very loud voice that needs to be heard.

User ratings of the software emphasize “…. ease of use, quality, and value for money.” The majority of these users are photo-enthusiasts, and one quarter of all users derives some income from use of the product.

PaintShop Pro, however, has not been without its critics ...
  • Version X4 which we reviewed two years ago was not without its faults;
  • Version X5 was considered (unfairly by many) to be patch 4 for version X4.
Corel listened very carefully to what their customer base was saying and with Paintshop Pro X6 their clear goal is  “…. reconnecting with our customers…..” .

Current users were surveyed about the use to which they put the software.

Three-fifths processed images for competitions, the same for photo prints, and two-fifths made prints in sizes in excess of 16x20. These are serious users who cannot be ignored. The three innovations which were most desired were
  1. Photo Retouching Tools
  2. 64 Bit Support,and
  3. Improved Speed of Processing;
it is these aspects which Corel have incorporated into the latest version of PaintShopPro.

Cloud Computing vs Boxed Product

Unlike others, Corel will not be pursuing the monthly subscription route; outright perpetual licence purchase remains. More than 80% of the surveyed customer base wanted the outright purchase option.

PaintShopPro X5 came with a host of filter and other goodies such as Geo-tagging, social networking features, face detection, enhanced HDR, and RAW/JPG stacking, but the most significant change was 16bit image processing across the range of effects and adjustments, meaning output TIFF files were 16bit and not 8bit as in other comparably priced software.

The growing use of DSLR and more sophisticated phone cameras sets the demand for higher specification processing software. PaintShopPro has been available in two flavours for many years, namely the ‘Pro’ version which appeals to the ‘photo-enthusiast’, and the ‘Ultimate’ which appeals to the ‘serious/professional user’.

They say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but the marketing guys have their eye fully on the game. The boxed editions of the software sport different covers, the Pro version aimed at the enthusiast has a ‘family event’; whereas the Ultimate version displays the dedicated worker at sunrise/set with tripod and DSLR in the spume waiting for that all important shot.

Painshop pro X6 family box
Paintshop pro x6 pro box
Family Product Box
Pro Product Box

PaintShop Pro X6

From September 4, 2013 PaintShop Pro X6 comes into the big league because it has 64bit processing capability just like its main rival.  If you've no idea why 64bit processing is a good thing then this 64bit link to find out what it means ...

64bit gives it the facility to access the juicy extras in the plugins chest which were inaccessible until now.
  • All of the updated Topaz range and Anthropics Portrait Professional Studio 64 are amongst those which are yours for the using without going elsewhere.
  • The OnOne Perfect Suite operates on *.8li files which are not read by PaintShopPro.
The ‘Object Remover’ too uses the 64bit engine. If you purchase the Ultimate version of PaintShop Pro X6, the ‘goodies’ include PerfectlyClear by Athentech Imaging (“the world's most robust automatic image correction” plugin) and FaceFilter3 by Reallusion (the Ultimate Photo Beauty Kit).

The 64bit technology confers other spin-offs, including ...
  • The speed of processing throughout is greatly enhanced (as a beta tester for this product that was one of the first comments shared within the team).
  • RAM in excess of about 3.5Gb can be utilised (larger images and greater numbers of layers can be accessed and your workflow is faster and slicker) the processing engine itself can be run more efficiently.
  • In my humble opinion, the layers technology is more intuitive than that in, say, Elements.
  • The performance improvements sit between 18% and 80% over the benchmark PaintShopPro X5 operation.

    paintshop pro x6 process speed
    paintshop pro x6 open large file
    Catalogue Speed
    Open Large Files

  • Searchability for your images has been improved too, with the ease of editing the IPTC data.
  • Repetitive workflow operations can be speeded up since scripting features have been improved and a Scripting Guide is available.
So what do you get for your money?

Help and Discovery

The Marketing guys stress that the customer base demands ‘more bang for the bucks’. Features, price and performance are what the customers need. Both PaintShop Pro X6 versions are shipped with free ‘Standard Membership’.

Standard Membership is the Collection Pack of brushes, frames and tubes; the Service Packs; Scripting Guide and access to Webinars. Returning to my comment about appearance, the design team has given the UI a complete overhaul. “It was time to hone the fit and finish of PaintShop Pro.” Minor adjustments to the screen appearance and the way in which the software interacts with the user have produced an interface which just looks so much better.

Support is at the centre of the new ‘Help’ tab.

Now all of the webinars, tutorials, and on-line help is directed from one node – the Discovery Center.

Corel have employed a professional photographer to write photography support pages to supplement those for software assistance. Beginners will surely benefit from this.

paintshop prox6 video learning

Off-line help in the program remains a feature, but if the user has an internet connection the software will search for the latest help on-line.

Smart Selection Brush

The Smart Selection Brush included in PaintShop Pro X6 makes partial image editing, masking and edit/copy/paste a much easier process.

paintshop pro x6 smart selection brush

From the Organiser Tray in the Edit Workspace, a ‘double-click’ opened the image of one of Edinburgh’s landmarks. The contrast was low, necessitating a curves layer adjustment.

Layers > New Adjustment Layer > Curves. 

You may need to look at
  1. or  
to get a better idea of how you can do this simple adjustment.  PaintShop Pro X6 has a button for ‘Contrast’ as a start to making an adjustment.

The Curves adjustment layer then needs to be combined with the layer to which it applies Layers > Merge > Merge Down

With the building looking better, it was time to improve the sky.  A previously adjusted image taken on the same day a few metres away, with a better sky was dragged from the tray into the layers palette.  So it is ‘click and drag’ for the image from the tray into the layers palette.

paintshop pro x6 workspace

This process was not possible before PaintShop Pro X6.

Smart Selection Brush does just that.  It selects intelligently.  Once the selection is made you can use it to make a mask or you can adjust the selection or you can copy the selection to use it elsewhere.

With the Smart Selection Brush selected and the feather set at 4; the area set to ‘outside’; anti-aliasing opted for; smart edge chosen, it was merely a case of painting the area to be moved to its own layer above the sky layer Edit > Copy and Edit > Paste as New Layer

paintshop pro x6 edin original
paintshop pro x6 edin final image

Job done!

Brush Variance Video

Brush Variance Video

The Final Word

It’s difficult to cover all of the nuances and features in this new version of the software.  The overall appearance is just so much more appealing – little changes but significant in their overall effect. 

painshop pro x6 user interface

The power release of the 64bit engine is the ‘bit under the hood’ you can’t see, but it is what you feel as you work because you can do so much more, so much more quickly. 

The Smart Selection Brush makes sector editing and adjusting easier, and masking a dream – that Smart brush is smart!

And it’s less than 4 month’s rental on the other 64bit program we often talk about.

My advice is simple: download a FREE 30 day trial from Corel, give it a full test and then shop around for the best bargain on this new, and amazing version of Corel's PaintShop Pro.

PaintShop Pro X6
Page Links

64 Bit Technology

Help and Discovery

Smart Selection Brush

Brush Variance Video

The Final Word

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