Paintshop Pro X6, a good alternative to Photoshop

Since Adobe has gone to a subscription based software, where you rent the software monthly to use it, a lot of people, including myself, have been looking for an  alternative to Photoshop.

Yes, I know there is Photoshop Elements, but this is a stripped down version of Photoshop CS6 or CC.  In fact, in Photoshop Elements 12 they removed a number of features that prior version had and kept it as a 32bit program.  I am guessing they don’t want the Elements version to compete with the CS6 or CC version.

Anyway, I have found Paintshop Pro X6 from Corel.  The features in Paintshop Pro X6 blows away Photoshop Elements and is right up there with Photoshop CS6.  And the best thing is, you buy it, not rent it.  So what does it cost?

Paintshop Pro X6 comes in two version, the regular Paintshop Pro X6 and the Ultimate version.  Paintshop Pro X6 is priced at $79.95 and Paintshop Pro X6 Ultimate is priced at $99.95.  If you check places like Amazon.com you can save another $10 to $15 off these prices.

The difference between the two packages is, Paintshop Pro X6 Ultimate offers three extra add-on features over the standard Paintshop Pro X6.  They are:

1) Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging – This allows you to apply one-click image

corrections with their award-winning intelligent photo correction technology.

2) Reallusion FaceFilter3 – This is a stand alone program that will allow you to create beautiful portraits with versatile photo retouching tools.

3) The Creative Collection – This includes dozens of extra brushes, textures and royalty-free backgrounds.

Since there is only a $20 price difference between the two packages, I strongly recommend spending the extra $20 and go with the Paintshop Pro X6 Ultimate package.

Paintshop Pro X6 added some great features over Paintshop Pro X5.  In addition, it is now a 64bit package, which has dramatically increased it’s speed.

When you install Paintshop Pro X6 you are given the following choices:
Install both the 32bit and 64 bit versions.
Install just the 64 bit version.
Install only the 32 bit versions.

The reason for this is backwards compatibility with 32 bit plugins. So if you want to use 32 bit plugins with Paintshop Pro X6, you should install both the 32 and 64 bit versions.

On my system, I have only installed the 64bit version, since I am not using any plugins, except for the ones that come with the Ultimate package.

When you first install the software it will check for any updates and then when you first run Paintshop Pro X6, you will be asked to create an account with Corel.  This account will give you access to the Discovery Center which has a ton of tutorial videos.

When you first open Paintshop Pro X6 you will see the following screen:

Note: there are three tabs labeled Manage, Adjust and Edit.  This divides the program into the three modes of use.

Manage Tab
The Manage Tab is where you simply work with folders and image grids for organizing your photos, your collections and tagging of photos.  See the photo above.

Adjust Tab
The Adjust Tab allows you to change to the white balance, lighting, brightness, contrast, noise levels, color, cropping and more.  The Adjust Tab is great for cleaning up or fixing photos.

Edit Tab
The Edit Tab is what users of Photoshop are use to.  This is where you have the full range of tools for manipulating photos in the traditional way.

In the Paintshop Pro X6 preference settings, you can choose which Tab to open up in.  I have mine set to open in the Edit Tab as the default.

While some people have a hard time switching to a new program, I found that after years of using Photoshop, switching to Paintshop Pro X6 very easy for me.  You just need to remember, some of the tools maybe labeled something different or some of the functions you are use to maybe located in a different area, but they are there.

I want to address some of the complaints I’ve about Paintshop Pro X6 on some of the forums.

The Program Crashes
Some people on the forums have complained about the program crashing.  Almost all the time, the end user was trying to use a 32bit plug-in in the 64bit version of the program.  Yes, this will almost always cause problems with the program.  This is why they give you both versions of the program.  If you have 32 bit plug-ins, they you will need to use them with the 32bit version of the program.

I have to say, that I have been using the program for several weeks now and have NOT had any crashes.

Performance
This is the first 64bit version of Paintshop Pro X6.  The performance and speed has improved with this new 64bit version.  Yet, I read some people commenting on the performance of the software.

I am using Paintshop Pro X6 Ultimate on a AMD FX6300 CPU running at 3.5Ghz with a turbo mode to 4.1Ghz and with 16gigs of RAM.  I am not have any problems with performance on this system.  So, I decided to try the program on my AMD Dual Core laptop running 2.4Ghz with 4 gigs of RAM.

On this system I did see the performance drop on some functions.  For example, when using the Eraser Tool, if I would move the tool from one side of the photo to the other quickly, I noticed the actual background being erased was dragging behind the tool.

If I move the Eraser Tool a little slower, I didn’t have any problems.  I could NOT reproduce this on the AMD FX-6300 desktop system.

So if you have a older slower system, you might see a performance drop, but this really depends on you and how fast you are working.

Another performance complaint I read about was large high-resolution photos opened a little slow.  Again, I did NOT see this problem on the AMD FX-6300 desktop system, but I did notice it on my laptop.  It wasn’t bad enough for me to complain about, but is was a little slower opening on the laptop.

The Adjust Mode
Several people complained that in the Adjust Mode, there wasn’t enough tools.  In Paintshop Pro X6, the Adjust Mode offers simple fixes like cropping, straightening, red eye removal, white balance, adjusting of color and lighting.  I am not sure why people where complaining about the lack of tools in the Adjust mode, that is what the Edit mode is for.

The Manage Mode
When I applied an Instant Effect in Manage mode, it didn’t show up on my photo, though when moving to Adjust or Edit mode the affect was applied.  I am going to assume this is a bug in the program and hopefully Corel will fix it in an update.

Conclusion
Switching to a new program is not easy for everyone, there is always a learning curve of some degree.  I have talked to about a dozen people who have switch from Photoshop to Paintshop Pro X6 and everyone seems to be very happy with moving to Paintshop Pro X6.  Most of the people I talked to made the transitions to Paintshop Pro X6 easily.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Photoshop, Corel PaintShop Pro X6 is an unquestionable bargain and you won’t be missing much, if anything and the price of Paintshop Pro X6 can’t be beat.

You can test out Paintshop Pro X6 for 30 day by downloading the program from Corel.  Here is the web address:

http://www.corel.com