Coloring With Paint Shop

Coloring with Paint Shop is an activity that is flat out fun and suitable for all ages.  Kids, in particular, will have a blast working with a computer and some line art - and here's a little known secret - adults will enjoy it as well!

Typically, coloring is done with line art that you create yourself or download from one of the many line art sites.  

There are two keys to really effective and appealing coloring with Paint Shop, or any brush work for that matter ...

  1. Using a Bamboo or Intuos Graphics tablet, and
  2. Understanding and using the enormous number of options available in the Brush Variance palette.
Tablet VS Mouse

Have you ever tried to draw, paint or color with Paintshop using just a mouse or trackpad?  I guess it can be done and there is probably someone on the planet who can create magnificent works of art with a mouse or trackpad.

For the majority of us, however, it's nigh on impossible.

That's where the Wacom tablet is so darn useful.  You hold the pen like any other pen and it just feels very natural (once you become familiar with it).

In addition to the natural feel, the tablet will recognize pen pressure and create brush strokes that change their dynamics (such as size and opacity) based on the pressure you are applying.  You can't do this with a mouse or trackpad.

For a digital artist and coloring with Paint Shop it can't get any better than this!

Brush Variance

The good folks at Corel have provided us with an amazing array of brush dynamics.  What this means is that you can set your brushes to do all sorts of neat and cool things based on the pressure you apply to your pen.  This is the heart of successful coloring with Paint Shop Pro.

The basic dynamics - changing size and/or opacity with pen pressure is covered on the Brush Variance page.  

If changing brush dynamics is new to you then that may be a good place to start or just carry on here ...

This tutorial will cover the more interesting and exciting dynamics that you will probably use when coloring with Paint Shop.

Each one will be explained and then we'll work through a real example to be followed by a video and quiz - OK - forget the quiz.

The Palette

paint shop coloring brush variance
This is the palette where the magic happens. There are nine different settings that can be set - one at a time or many of them together.

With a tablet installed the settings will be set to Pressure so that the dynamics will change as pressure is applied.

The settings that are the most useful for coloring with Paint Shop are Color Blend, Hue, Saturation, Opacity and Density.

To the right of the Settings is a column called Jitter - a barely understood and oft avoided adjustment.

Jitter introduces Randomness to a brush stroke.

The Jitter settings are the ones that will give some life to a brush stroke - from a little to over the top.

Strangely - some of these settings will work with your mouse but everything is a lot easier and better with a tablet.

Color Blend

With light pen pressure and Color Blend set to Pressure, the paint stroke starts with the Background color and changes into the Foreground color as pressure is applied, blending the two colors as it goes.

coloring with paint shop Color Blend with no Jitter.  It is a nice, even change in color from light blue to dark blue.
coloring with paint shop jitter 10 Color blend with Jitter set at 10%.  The randomness is easy to see.
coloring with paint shop jitter of 50 Color Blend with Jitter set at 50%. There is much more randomness in this stroke.
coloring with paint shop jitter 1000 Color Blend with Jitter set at 1000%.  

Here is a sample of some line art colored using three different Jitter settings in Color Blend.
coloring with paint shop
Each portion of the line art was painted on a separate layer (body, rear fin and front fin).  After painting the layer Bl;end Mode was changed to Multiply to darken the lines of the line art and darken the paint.

The body of this cute little fish was painted with Color Blend (two shades of red) and Jitter set at 0%.  Some shading is visible.

The back fin was painted with a blue and a purple color and the Jitter set at 50%.  It is a tad more interesting.

The front fins were painted with the same two colors as the rear fin and the jitter was set at 1000%.

Can you start to see how useful these Jitter settings will be when you are coloring with Paint Shop?


This setting will change the hue of the brush stroke based on the pressure applied between the Foreground and Background colors.  Even with no Jitter the  change is quite dramatic.  The Foreground and Background colors were two shades of red - the reds used in the little fish body.

paint shop coloring hue 0 The Hue setting with no Jitter.  
paint shop coloring hue 50 The Hue setting with a Jitter setting of 50%.
paint shop coloring hue 1000 The Hue setting with a Jitter setting of 1000%.

So what will this setting do with our little fish?

paint shop coloring fish hueEach portion of the line art was painted on a separate layer (body, rear fin and front fin).  After painting the layer Blend Mode was changed to Multiply to darken the lines of the line art and darken the paint.

The same colors used in Color Blend were used for the Hue.

The body, at 0% Jitter has much wider areas of color than the back fin at 50% Jitter and the 1000% Jitter area is very colorful.

It is an interesting setting, isn't it?  Coloring with Paint Shop just got a whole lot more interesting!


With Saturation set to Pressure a light pen stroke will create the gray color associated with the Foreground color.  As pressure is increased the color starts changing to the Foreground color until the stroke is only the Foreground color.

coloring with paint shop saturation Saturation with Jitter set to 0%
coloring with paint shop saturation 50 Saturation with Jitter set to 50%
coloring with paint shop saturation 1000 Saturation with Jitter set to 1000%

Painting our little fish with Saturation as the only dynamic was, quite frankly, rather ugly.  This is a setting that will likely be used very sparingly on its own but may be very effective when used with one of the other settings like Hue and/or Color Balance..


This setting is very similar to the Saturation setting with the exception that the gray area is much darker.  The stroke starts with dark gray with light pressure and blends into the red foreground color as pressure is increased.

coloring with paint shop lightness Lightness with Jitter set to 0%
coloring with paint shop lightness 50 Lightness with Jitter set to 50%
coloring with paint shop lightness 1000 Lightness with Jitter set to 1000%

Painting our cute little fish with this setting alone was not appealing.  This is a setting that will likely be used very sparingly on its own but may be very effective when used with one of the other settings like Hue and/or Color Balance..


Changing size with pressure has been written up on this page.   Adding Jitter to the size setting causes the brush randomly change brush size.  I tried it with a 64 pixel brush and a Jitter setting of 1000 - the new brush size completely covered the page I was working with!  

This Jitter setting will stay at or near zero!


Changing Opacity with pressure has also been covered on the Brush Variance page.  The Jitter settings will vary the opacity randomly and will be effective when used with other settings - Color Blend and Hue being the most likely candidates.


This is a great setting if you are using a square or line brush but will have little noticeable effect on the standard round brush.  The Jitter settings introduce randomness to the amount of rotation.


The Density setting determines the evenness of coverage produced by the brush stroke.  At 0% and low Jitter values the paint flow is spotty and becomes more even as the Jitter is raised.  By itself this setting does not produce great results but is effective with both Color Blend and Hue.

An Example Project

Let's use this cute little fish drawn by Sheri for the project.

paint shop coloring little fish

Guidelines and Suggestions

You can just grab a brush and start coloring with Paint Shop but here are a few hints to make it easier and more effective ...

  • Create a new layer for each part of the image you are working on.  With this piece of art I made a layer for the fish body, the fins, the plants, the hair, and one for the bubbles, the lips and the eye  for a total of five layers.  There were actually more than five layers - I did the plants a couple of different ways.

  • Don't worry if you go outside of the lines - just grab the eraser, zoom in and erase the offending parts.

  • Play around with the dynamics on each layer before you start coloring just to see the effect.

  • As you are going make note of the RGB colors for the foreground and background colors. To do that just click on the foreground color to bring up the color palette and write down the Red, Green and Blue numbers.  Close the palette and then do the same thing for the background color.  You can also hover the mouse over the foreground and background colors and a little information window will report the RGB makeup of each color.

  • Save often and save your file as a .pspimage which preserves the digital coloring layers intact.  With Paint Shop Pro  if you click Save As and you have a multi layer image it will default to a .jpg file - changing the file type to .pspimage will save all of the layers intact.  If you select .jpg all of the layers will be merged and that is not much good if you want to edit one of them, is it?
Fish Body

paint shop coloring fish body
Create a new layer above the artwork and name it Fish Body.

The RGB Values for the two yellow colors used are:

Foreground - 224, 229, 149
Background - 249, 249, 81

In the Brush Variance palette Color blend was set to pressure and the Jitter was set at 1000%.

This provided some differences through the paint stroke as the color randomly switched from foreground to background.  The look is a bit better than a simple solid color.

After the fish body was colored the blend mode of the layer was changed to Multiply.  If you did the Blend Modes tutorial then you will know that this blend mode darkens things - in this case the yellows and the underlying artwork.  If you didn't go through the blend mode tutorial this blend mode - well - it darkens the active and underlying layer.

Front And Back Fins
paint shop coloring fins
Create another new layer above the Fish Body layer and name it Fins.

The RGB values for the two blue colors are:

Foreground -  69, 222, 229
Background -  106, 250, 252

In the Brush Variance palette Color Blend was set to Pressure and the Jitter was left at 1000%.

After painting the fins the layer blend mode was changed to Multiply to darken things.

The Plants

I did the plants two different ways - one used the previous settings with two shpaint shop coloring plantades of green like this:

Foreground - 2, 14, 10
Background - 18, 1017, 25

Color blend was set to pressure and the Jitter was set at 1000%.

The closeup of the plant makes it easy to see the variance in color between the two greens.

Just for the heck of it and because it is really easy to do I changed some of the other dynamics to make the plants a tad more dramatic.

The two green values stayed the same but the other values changed - a lot.  A new layer was added.

paint shop coloring colored plantForeground - 2, 104, 10
Background - 5, 227, 13

These are the Brush variance for the rather wildly colored plant:

  • Color blend - Pressure - Jitter at 1000%
  • Hue - Pressure - Jitter at 658%
  • Fade set at 100
  • Position Jitter at 10%

Fish Eye, Fish Lips and Bubbles

These small accent areas  (lips, eye and bubbles) were painted on their own layer which was changed to Multiply.

Earlier I suggested that you take note of the colors used - in this part of my coloring with Paint Shop I didn't - oops.

The eye is kind of orange with Color blend set to pressure, the lips are red and the bubbles are two shades of blue with color blend and hue set to pressure.  The good thing is that the colors you use are entirely up to you.

Final Image

Here it is - the final image ...

doloring with paintshop final

This looks OK for the first coloring with Paint Shop project, doesn't it?  

I thought about painting the water a nice shade of blue but it seemed like an awful lot of work.

Instead of painting a large area like that how about adding a gradient at the bottom of the layers stack?  Good idea but the white, unpainted areas are in the way and that is where a nice gradient come in  ...

Adding A Gradient

To add a nice gradient to the artwork means the white areas need to be removed.  

Normally I wouldn't ever suggest using the Magic Wand but in this case it is the perfect tool to use.

Select the line drawing layer (the bottom layer) and click with the Magic Wand anywhere in the image that is white.  This will create a selection.

Set the Feather to 1 or 2 and then Edit > Cut and all of the white goes away, replaced with the hash marks indicating the transparent area.

Now add a new layer above the line art layer and drag it below the line art layer.  

Go into the Materials palette, select the Gradient tab and then take a look at the different gradients available.  When you find one you like click on it.  

There are four different Styles of gradients - Linear, Rectangular, Sunburst and Radial.  Select the one that is most appropriate to your artwork, click OK to exit the Materials palette, grab the Flood Fill tool and click on the bottom layer to add the gradient.

This is how my little fish looks with a Sunburst gradient ...

coloring with paint shop gradients

While in the gradient screen you can change the Center Point for effect.

If you are not sure about Gradients you can check the Paint Shop Reflections page where there is more information.

Coloring With Paint Shop
Page Links

Tablet Versus Mouse

Brush Variance


Final Image

Adding a Gradient

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