PaintShop Workflow

Following a consistent PaintShop workflow can make your digital editing life a whole lot more predictable which tends to produce consistently good results.  This is assuming that you're not always depending on those quick fix routines like Express Lab, One Step Photo Fix or Smart Photo Fix.

After all, where's the fun in letting a Corel PaintShop software engineer make all the decisions and do all of the work when you are far more creative than any program?

You can think of the steps as a PaintShop road map or "what to do and when to do it" when working with your photos.

A loose analogy is following a recipe when making your favorite munchy and you know  restaurants always follow their most popular recipes - the difference is that there isn't much room for 'winging it' with a recipe. 

So this could be your PaintShop workflow road map, and just like a road map, the route can be modified according to what you want to achieve and the overall quality of the image.  The steps that follow, then, are not written in stone - they're simply suggestions because you're free to edit your shots in any way you wish.

Let's take a look at a suggested PaintShop workflow and then work through a sample ...

Suggested Procedure

This PaintShop Workflow is summed up in three basic steps ...
  1. Start with global adjustments.
  2. Move to local adjustments.
  3. Finish with global adjustments.
Initial Global Adjustments
Getting started
  1. Open the photograph (somewhat obvious).
  2. Make a copy of the Background.
  3. Straighten if necessary.
  4. Crop.
Now you're ready to start working on the photograph.  Some additional global adjustment suggestions (that is adjustments that will affect the whole image) include ...
  • A Levels Adjustment layer to improve exposure, contrast and color. and if the problem is too severe then try to ...
  • compensate for an under or over exposed image by changing the Layer Blend Mode to Screen (for an underexposed image) or Multiply (for an overexposed image).
  • Shadows and Highlights to modify the shadows and highlights in the Adjust > Brightness and Contrast  > Highlights/Midtones/Shadows.
  • Removing a color cast - this tutorial will show you how (text and video). 
  • Hue and Saturation adjustment layer.
  • Save as a .psd (Photoshop format) or .pspimage  (PaintShop format) to preserve any layers that were added.
You don't have to do all of the steps, only do the ones that you figure are necessary.

If you're shooting RAW files then it will open in the RAW editor rather than the normal PaintShop editor.  A lot of the initial adjustments can be complete in the RAW editor if that is what you want to do.

Local Adjustments

This is where you can have some fun with your image and your Wacom tablet. 

The steps you may take at this point include pretty much everything in the PaintShop menus.  They include adjustments such as ...
  • Selecting.
  • Dodging and Burning (with PaintShop tools or with a Soft Light Layer).
  • Cloning and or patching.
  • Healing Brush.
  • Smudging and Bluring.
  • Curves.
  • Save as a .psd or .pspimage to preserve any layers that were added.
This is also where your critical eye and your knowledge of PaintShop Pro comes into play.

Global Adjustments 2

This section of the PaintShop workflow is the final step - where the file is prepared for printing or uploading to the web or whatever you have in mind.

  • Crop
  • Resize.
  • Collapse the layers.
  • Noise reduction (if necessary)
  • Sharpen
  • Save (with a new name to preserve the original).
Here's an example with commentary ...

PaintShop Workflow

The first Global Adjustments

paintshop workflow original
The picture was taken in Henderson, Nevada just before dark.  My trusty camera tried to compensate for the lack of light by overexposing the shot.  

The foreground is way to light as is the sky - it's not at all what I remembered photographing.

It definately needs some TLC.
paintshop workflow multiply workflow
The Background Layer was duplicated and then the Blend Mode was changed to Multiply (to darken the picture).

That really worked well other than the foreground is way too dark now - but the sky is looking good.

The next steps will dig into some local areas.

Local Adjustments

paintshop workflow dodge
In an attempt to lighten up the middle bits of the of the image (front of the buildings) a Show All Mask Layer was added to the top layer.

The Mask Layer is white which means a black brush is used to "punch through" the Multiply layer so that the lighter, original Background layer shows through.

The Mask Layer worked well but was not nearly enough - the small shrubs in the foreground, the trees and the bushes on top of the left building are still too dark.

paintshop workflow slected sky
I realized that painting in the lighter information from the Background Copy would be a nightmare, even with my Intuos 5 tablet so a bit of creativity was required.

Selecting the area I wanted to lighten (everything but the sky) with most of the selection tools would take forever and require enormous patience.  I resorted to the Magic Wand to select the uniform sky.

I had to do the Magic Wand a couple of times and finally ended up with a Tolerance of 31 with Contiguous unchecked to dig into the trees where the sky is showing through

 With the sky selected I inverted the selection so everything but the sky was selected.
paintshop workflow black to transparent gradient
Now the area I wanted to lighten was fully selected which meant I could paint with black to lighten things.

Instead of painting, I selected a black to transparent Linear Gradient and used the Flood Fill Tool on the foreground area. 

This worked quite well.

Last Global Adjustment

paintshop crop
This is where I went back to the final Global Adjustments.

The somewhat annoying and distracting wall on the left side of the picture was croped out.

paintshop workflow sharpen and shadows
The foreground part of the image was way too dark so Adjust >  Brightness and Contrast  > Highlights/Midtones/Shadows was used to open up the dark area.  The adjustment also opened up the sky area a bit, producing a brighter blue.

The image was then sharpened using Adjust > Sharpeness >  High Pass Sharpen ...

Overall, I was quite satisfied with the end result.

The final two steps were to flatten the image and save it with a new and unique name (to keep the original intact).

Here's a side by side comparison of the original and the final shot ...

painshop workflow comparison

The steps taken in this PaintShop workflow example are pertinent to this image only and every other image will include different steps and techniques.  What that says is to resist slavishly following what is written here, other than the big picture view - that is start with global adjustments, move to local adjustments and finish with global adjustments.

Start with some Global adjustments, move to Local adjustments and finish with the final Global adjustments.

Page Links

Suggested Procedure

  1. First Global Adjustments
  2. Local Adjustments
  3. Final Global Adjustments

  PaintShop Workflow

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