Best Buy
  • Price: £79.95

  • Company: Jasc

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

Jasc Paint Shop Pro has long been the image editor of choice for many Web designers. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, the release of Paint Shop Pro 7 sees the tool reaching a new level, boasting high-end and powerful features found in packages with much higher price tags. Features such as image slicing, image mapping, HTML export and JavaScript rollovers are a must in today’s Web-savvy graphics tools. Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7 does it all and then some. Version 7 boasts a complete set of image-editing features, including improved vector/drawing tools, colour editing, photo editing, painting abilities, layers and layer masks, blend modes, transparency levels and adjustment layers. Users can also visually optimize Web graphics, and enjoy support for advanced GIF and Web animation with the free built-in Animation Shop 3. Other enhancements such as image-management options also feature. With such a wealth of features on offer, Paint Shop Pro 7 uses the available screen space very well, incorporating customizable toolbars and palettes with familiar window buttons for accessing common menus and commands. A status bar at the bottom of the screen displays information about buttons and commands when the cursor is rolled over them. The workspace is modular, and the icons and tools palettes presented on it can be toggled by mouse rollovers alone – no need for double-clicking. Being an Adobe Photoshop Web monkey myself, I initially thought it unfair to compare Paint Shop Pro 7 with Photoshop 5.5, instead being more inclined to compare it with Macromedia Fireworks 3. I had to change my mind after looking through the comprehensive 500-page user guide: Paint Shop Pro 7 boasts some impressive vector-object and text-editing tools – such as creating text on an object path, and aligning text on an open path. These are features normally only found in high-end vector tools. As with Fireworks 3, Paint Shop Pro 7 supports both bitmap images and vector objects, but differs in the way these objects are presented both in terms of the way they appear in the layer palette, and the way you switch between the two modes. In Paint Shop Pro 7, the layer palette displays a vector icon on the left of a vector layer button. When the layer contains vector objects, a plus sign appears next to the icon. You click on the icon to display the buttons of all the vector objects in the layer. Best of all, you can group vector objects – even the ones from different layers – for easier management. Paint Shop Pro 7 comes with support for Adobe Photoshop plug-ins and 80 or so customizable built-in special effects. A library with custom graphics, logos, buttons, text and other objects can be put together quickly with the new export feature from the Preset Shape tool. One criticism is that the ability to cut images into pieces with the slice tool and to apply rollovers and image maps is not well integrated into the package. Another is that Paint Shop Pro is still not available on the Mac – which, given that many Web designers use Macs, is a little annoying. Paint Shop Pro includes most of the high-end buzzword Web features expected by today’s Web oriented artists. Most importantly, version 7 surprises with a few superior features not found on high-end packages with a much higher price tag.