Photo editing software like Photoshop and Corel PaintShop Pro have been around for a long time. These applications are now very mature and capable of creating stunning results in no time. Photoshop is still the reference, but you need to purchase a subscription (around $20 USD each month) to use it.
If you don't need all the features offered by Adobe's software, then PaintShop Pro can be a wise alternative. It can achieve most of the things Photoshop can do, but for a fraction of the cost.
It's true that Photoshop is more powerful, filled with a few exclusive tools and a more obvious choice. But do you really need to spend $240 USD each year to use such an application?
Corel PaintShop Pro comes with all the options needed like selecting tools, drawing tools, text tools and shape tools to work on your images. Most of them haven't changed recently, although a few minor additions are often possible.
Some original brushes from Corel Painter are also available, but these are quite basic compared to the original ones that can be used in Painter. It's a nice addition, but chances are that you won't use them very often.
Like in previous versions, you can correct perspective, clone some part of the illustration and use the color changer to gvie life to your images. Adding vector shapes can also be done with the pen tool, but it's not as easy to use as it would be in a real vector software.
As far as I am concerned, a software like PaintShop Pro must be equipped with a solid set of selection tools to be effective. The new auto selection tool and smart selection brush are great additions that can help you add some great effects.
As usual, these selection tools work better when the shape you are selecting is filled with a single tone of color. Complex shapes and subjects made of a mix of textures and colors will be harder to select.
Still, working with the smart selection brush can be helpful, but be prepared to complete the work manually if you are using a colorful image.
Other additions that are welcomed are the Smart Carver and the Object Extracter. Smart Carver will remove unwanted object and scale the illustration's background so that subjects are removed seamlessly without distorting your picture.
The Object Extracter will do a similar job, but without the scaling feature. These two options are powerful and very interesting, but once again, you might have to make a few manual adjustments on the final result since these tools are not always rendering perfect results.
More creative tools can be found in Corel PaintShop Pro. The Smart Photo Fix can deliver suggestions on how to improve your illustrations in just a few clicks. Of course, you can always enhance your illustration manually if you prefer.
A Makeover tool as well as a red-eye removal tool are also available if you want to enhance your subject. Just like the Smart Photo Fix, you might want to use other tools manually to create a similar effect (and have more control and flexibility) if you are an advanced user with specific needs.
You can add a wide variety of filters and effects just like in Photoshop. You will have access to 3D effects, artistic effects, distortion, reflection, textures and geometric effects.
More common tools like adjusting brightness, contrast, softness, sharpness, colors and depth of field are also available. Most of these options can be previewed live while you are making adjustment, something really helpful if you are not sure how the effect will look like.
If you like to work with RAW images, Corel PaintShop Pro also includes powerful tools to help you manipulate and edit your content. However, even if the software now support 64-bit architecture, editing RAW images can be painful if you don't have a powerful computer.
Third-party plugins and scripting are also supported. You can add Adobe Photoshop plugins and create scripts to automate most task available in the software.
The workspace is also improved and you now have access to three different areas: Manage, Adjust and Edit. Manage is a simple workspace dedicated to file management. The interface is simple and you can create folders, share images with people or use social medias.
In the Adjust tab, you can easily play with filters and fix things like white balance, brightness or contrast. You can perform all these actions in the edit tab too, but things are simply easier to visualize in the Adjust interface.
The Edit tab is the one you are already familiar with. The interface is clean, simple and well-organized. You can customize almost everything. The application does open in the Manage tab, but you can change the settings to go directly in the Edit tab when opening Corel PaintShop Pro.
Other nice features include social media sharing, web tools, Photo Mapping and Share My Trip. A wide variety of file formats are supported and help is well-integrated into the software.
Your purchase does come with a member section filled with exclusive tutorials, but it seems like you need to upgrade to a premium account if you want to extend your subscription beyond 30 days or so.
Corel PaintShop Pro comes in a standard version as well as an ultimate one. If you purchase the ultimate version, you will have access to two additional software called Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging and Reallusion FaceFilter3.
Perfectly Clear by Athentech Imaging can deliver automated correction to your photos while Reallusion FaceFilter3 is an application specially dedicated to the correction and edition of portraits. The ultimate version also comes with more brushes, textures and backgrounds.
If you don't mind spending a few extra bucks for these additions, then the ultimate version can be a good choice. However, most of the things that these software are able to achieved can already be done in Corel PaintShop Pro.
Corel PaintShop Pro is a good alternative to Photoshop and you can usually get it for less than $99 USD. Since these applications don't require frequent upgrades (I have used PaintShop Pro X2 for a couple of years before moving on to X6), spending $20 USD each month to use Adobe Photoshop seems useless. You can try the software here.