Paint Shop Pro6

Once shareware, Paint Shop Pro now boasts more than 15 million users, and has piled on features such as image layers and automated special effects. Paint Shop Pro would be a maze of options if not for two clearly worded manuals, free technical support, and a Web site with tips and tutorials.

With version 6, I could optimise JPEG and GIF graphics for the Web; embed or read watermarks on documents; and work with more file types, scanners and digital cameras than in previous versions. I maintained a clear view of my work because idle tool palettes now roll up to the title bar automatically. And with the new vector tools, I drew objects, typed along their paths, and resized them freely on screen, something you can't do even in Photoshop. Also new: character-level text formatting, a multicolour gradient tool, and more special effects options.

For Web sites and presentations, the bundled Animation Shop, now in version 2, is more integrated - when I retooled a graphic in Paint Shop Pro, corresponding images in my Web animation files also updated. From a single frame, I could crop an entire movie's dimensions or display registration marks so I could place elements precisely.

Graphics pros will want finer colour controls, vertical type, and the ability to record steps taken to create an effect (for replay on other projects). But for most novices, Paint Shop Pro 6 is a smart step up. Before forking out big bucks for another image editor, check out Jasc's trial version.

Paint Shop Pro 6

Price: $199

Distributor: Communique Software

Phone: (02) 9622 5624

URL: www.comm-unique.com.au

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