Photo-Paint began as a pixel based image-editing component of the comprehensive CorelDRAW! graphics package. Though early versions were somewhat lacklustre later versions have proved something of a revelation and Corel came under increasing pressure to release the product as a stand-alone.
Now at Version 10 (the current Mac version is 9, but differences are slight) this is spiritually the closest product to Photoshop: an overt professional level program that includes that pre-requisite of the pro, CMYK image editing modes. To produce images ready for print and reproduction you need to ensure those images 'work' when converted to the colour regime used for print, rather than the RGB - red, green, blue - used on screen.
The look of Photo-Paint is an interesting hybrid of the looks of Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop, featuring a very large image work area, bounded to the left and top by tools and menus. Menus are where Photo-Paint excels. But though there are lots of them, they can be usefully hidden, undocked from the menu bar (to become floating palettes), as required to make the workspace more efficient.
Photo-Paint introduced the concept of Objects, rather than the Layers used by other programs. In practice objects can be treated - and manipulated - in exactly the same way as layers. Corel take the manipulations a step further by introducing lens effects. Lenses apply effects to objects without disturbing the underlying pixels. This is similar to the powerful Adjustment Layers feature of Photoshop: the lens contains only the 'instructions' on how the object should look. Remove the lens and the object (or underlying image) will revert to its original look.
As Photo-Paint is notionally part of a larger package, there are some compromises. For example some of the image-element extraction tools and background-erasing features of Photoshop are either absent here, or offered in a less effective form. If you've CorelDRAW this is no problem - the included Corel Knockout achieves these effects very effectively - but it is a little disappointing not to find them here, integrated with the image editor.
Viewed in isolation Photo-Paint is an excellent and well-specified image-editor that tempers it's high-end features with tutorial support aimed across a range of users from novice to advanced. As part of the CorelDRAW! suite it makes an almost unbeatable graphics solution. Interestingly that suite costs slightly less than Photoshop 6 alone!
OVERALL RATING: 8/10
These figures are based on our experience of the respective programs and do not necessarily agree with the manufacturers' recommendations.
Power PC, 64MB RAM
240MB hard disc space
OS 8.6 or later
Pentium II, 64MB RAM
240MB hard disc space
Windows 98 or higher, NT4.0 (SP4) or higher.