Paint Shop Pro Free Training Course and Tutorial

Using the Tools and Palettes

The Paint Shop Pro tools and palettes form the heart of the program. The tools, which are grouped on the Tools toolbar (docked vertically along the left side of the window by default), are used to perform most of the basic tasks associated with creating and editing images, including selecting areas of the image, copying, cropping, painting, and adding text and objects.

To select a tool, click its button on the toolbar. Tools that perform the same kinds of tasks, like the selection and shape tools, are grouped together; these are indicated by a down arrow. Click the arrow to reveal the flyout menu and select the tool you need:

The palettes display information about the active image, provide options for the current tool, and help you manage elements like color distribution and layers. Palettes are much like mini-windows, with toolbars containing buttons for performing related functions and tabs or panes grouping related options together.

You can resize a palette by clicking and dragging one of its edges, or move it by clicking and dragging its title bar.

You can also show or hide toolbars and palettes, and float or dock them, depending on which ones you’re currently using and what arrangement makes it easiest for you to work with your image. To display or hide a toolbar or palette, from the View menu, select Toolbars or Palettes, and then select or deselect the toolbar or palette you want to show or hide.

Toolbars and palettes can be floated by dragging them over the workspace, or docked by dragging them back to the toolbar area at the top of the window or the palette area at the right side of the window.


If you have trouble docking palettes, check the docking options: From the View menu, select Docking Options. In the Preferences dialog, make sure the Palettes tab is selected. Under Allow docking of, make sure the checkboxes for the palettes you want to dock are selected:

A Pushpin button appears in the title bar of floating toolbars and palettes, as well as on docked palettes. When the pushpin points to the left on a floating toolbar
or palette, the toolbar or palette “rolls up” when you move your mouse away:

This preserves screen space while allowing you to keep a large number of toolbars and palettes readily available. Moving your mouse back over the toolbar or palette causes it to “roll down,” or become fully visible again:

To keep a toolbar or palette completely visible, click the Pushpin button so that it points down.

When a palette is docked and its pushpin button points down, the palette always remains fully displayed:

But when the pushpin points left and you move your mouse away, the palette slides into the edge of the workspace, displaying a tab with the palette’s name:

To display the palette, move your mouse over the tab:

You can also change the size of toolbars and palettes by clicking and dragging their edges. Be aware that some palettes, like the Layers palette, don’t by default display all the options available. You’ll need to expand the palette’s size (most often its width) to see everything.

When toolbars include buttons that aren’t visible, they display a right arrow near the edge. Click this arrow to view the hidden buttons. Although the Tool Options palette is technically a palette rather than a toolbar, it appears and behaves more like a toolbar, and it frequently contains additional options that aren’t immediately visible.

It can take some time to organize your workspace in a way that’s workable, particularly for complex images. For this reason, Paint Shop Pro includes a helpful feature that lets you save and reload workspaces. When you save a workspace, Paint Shop Pro stores all grid and guide information, palette and toolbar settings and locations, and all open images, down to their current views. You can save multiple workspaces for your different image editing tasks, reloading each as you need it.

To save a workspace, open the File menu and select Workspace, and then Save from the submenu. In the Save dialog, give the workspace a name that will help you later identify it with the current settings.

To load a different workspace, select Load from the Workspace submenu.

Common Tools in Paint Shop Pro

Most tools in Paint Shop Pro are specific to the type of image data you’re working with—either raster or vector. Raster data is pixel-based, while vector data is based on geometric calculations made by the computer. It’s important to understand the differences between the two, since each is good for a different purpose. For an explanation of raster and vector graphics, see About Raster and Vector Graphics under Creating Graphics.

The selection tools—Selection , Freehand Selection , and Magic Wand —let you select areas of a raster layer (a layer containing pixel-based data). Each of these tools provides you with a different method for selecting, by drawing a shape like a rectangle or circle, for example, or by selecting areas based on their color or hue.

Below, the Magic Wand tool was used to select all the bright yellow areas in the image:

The Move and Raster Deform tools are used to move and deform raster selections, respectively. This can create some interesting effects, as in the image below, in which the black areas were selected and the selection then moved and rotated:

The brush tools—Paint Brush , Airbrush , and Warp Brush —are used for painting on raster layers.

The image below shows the difference between the Airbrush tool, which applied the stroke on the left, and the Paint Brush tool, which applied the stroke on the right. The Warp Brush tool was then used to warp the strokes, creating fins:

The Art Media tools—Oil Brush , Chalk , Pastel , Crayon , Colored Pencil , Marker , Palette Knife , Smear , and Art Eraser —are used for painting on Art Media layers. The Art Media tools and canvas were designed to simulate drawing and painting on a real canvas.

Below, the Oil Brush tool was used to apply paint in three different colors, with three different brush sizes:

The Smear tool was then used to smear the “wet paint” across the canvas:

The Text tool is used to create both vector and raster text. Using the Materials palette, you can fill the text with patterns or textures:

The shapes tools—Rectangle , Ellipse , Symmetric Shape , and Preset Shape —let you draw both raster and vector objects ranging from simple squares and circles to flowers, inkblots, and wheels:

By default, the shapes tools create vector objects, which are easily editable. To create a raster object, select the tool and then, on the Tool Options palette below the Paint Shop Pro toolbars, make sure the Create On Vector checkbox is unchecked.

The Object Selection tool is used to select, move, and deform vector objects. This is different from the raster selection tools, which are limited to selecting raster data. Raster data must be selected, and then the selections modified using other tools.

The Pen tool is used to draw vector lines and curves and to edit vector paths. Using the Pen tool, you can create both simple and complex objects, and change the contours of a simple object to create a much more complex one.

For example, the ellipse created earlier can be transformed into the core of a rosebud by adding and moving nodes:

With the application of the Airbrush tool on a new, transparent raster layer, we can start to give the rosebud some depth:

Frequently, you’ll find that the best effects result from using a combination of raster and vector tools, so don’t feel limited to one or the other. With a little creativity (and a lot of practice!), you can use these and the other Paint Shop Pro tools to create just about anything imaginable.

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