Obviously not all graphics packages are the same, however some do share particular features. You might think, brilliant, now I can just learn how to use one package and I'll be a pro with them all in no time at all. The sad reality is that this is not the case. Sure they share tools but each one has placed them in different locations, word the same things differently and even categorise them differently, meaning even the simplest tasks take much longer than necessary. Here I am going to try taking some of the sting out of the move between packages and try to explain where certain tools and effects can be found in Paint Shop Pro X2, GIMP 2.4 and Photoshop CS2.
The Layer Pane
This is always on the right hand side of each of these workspaces by default, and in GIMP it resides in the second window that opens when you start the application in Windows. Here are some of the most important tools in any raster editing suite, and luckily the interface is roughly the same in each piece of software. Here I have the layer panes of (from left to right) Photoshop CS2, Paint Shop Pro X2 and GIMP 2.4 with coloured boxes around the buttons that you are most likely to use in your general editing. Also note that the Opacity slider and Layer Mode options are at the top and laid out in much the same way throughout the graphics packages, and as such these are easy to find in each piece of kit.
- To start a new layer press the button that has a red box around it. (in Paint Shop Pro press the drop-down arrow for more layer types)
- To Duplicate a Layer press the button with a green box around it. (right-click and select Duplicate Layer in PSP and PS:CS2)
- The button with a light blue box around it is the delete key.
- To add a layer mask click the button with a black box around it. (right click and select Add Layer Mask in GIMP, for PSP right-click and move to New Adjustment Layer then select Show All to make the layer mask visible)
- To Show/Hide a layer press the button with a purple box around it.
The Tool Pane
In a separate article for ePHOTOzine I have already listed the icons for the key tools in GIMP, PSP and Photoshop so here I will just state which tools are grouped with each. This does not apply to GIMP which has every tool represented by icons in the toolbox so you should be able to find them, whereas Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro both group their icons to streamline the interface a little.
Firstly here are Photoshop's groups moving left to right along each row, starting at the top.
Rectangular, Elliptical, Single Row and Single Column Marquee
Lasso, Polygonal Lasso and Magnetic Lasso
Slice and Slice Select
Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Patch and Red Eye
Brush, Pencil and Colour Replacement
Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp
History Brush and Art History Brush
Eraser, Background Eraser and Magic Eraser
Gradient and Bucket Fill
Blur, Sharpen and Smudge
Dodge, Burn and Sponge
Path and Direct Selection
Horizontal and Vertical Text, Horizontal and Vertical Text Mask
Pen tools and Convert Point tool
Rectangle, Rounded Rectangle, Ellipse, Polygon, Line and Custom Shape
Notes and Audio Annotation
Eye dropper, Colour Sampler and Measure Tool
Now for Paint Shop Pro X2's Groups, from top to bottom.
Pan and Zoom
Pick and Move
Selection, Freehand Selection and Magic Wand
Straighten and Perspective
Red Eye Removal
Clone, Scratch Remover and Object Remover
Paintbrush and Airbrush
Lighten/Darken, Dodge/Burn, Smudge, Push, Soften/Sharpen, Emboss, Saturation Up/Down, Hue Up/Down, Change to Target, Colour Replacer
Flood Fill and Colour Changer
Preset Shape, Ellipse, Rectangle, Symmetrical Shape
Warp Brush and Warp Mesh
Oil Brush, Chalk, Pencil, Coloured Pencil, Crayon, Marker, Palette Knife, Smear and Art Eraser (Art media tools)
Here I'm going to show you where all the tools used for editing the exposure and colour of your image are kept in each package.
In Photoshop the Hue, Saturation, Brightness, Contrast and other adjustment tools are in Image, Adjustments,(whatever tool you wish to use).
In GIMP the same tools can be found in the Colours menu of the image window.
Finally in Paint Shop Pro these tools are in the Adjust menu. However they have been split into three separate groups: Colour, Brightness/Contrast and Hue/Saturation. In Colour there are the Channel Mixer, Fade Correction and Red/Green/Blue tools. In Brightness/Contrast we have the Brightness/Contrast, Clarify, Curves, Highlight/Midtone/Shadow, Histogram tools, Shadow Levels and Threshold. And in Hue/Saturation we have Colourise, Hue/Saturation/Lightness and the Hue Map.
Filters and Modification tools
Finally we are onto the tools that can really style an image in more elaborate ways. These are the Filters, Effects and other such tools. These are pretty straightforward to find except in Paint Shop Pro you may get lost the first time.
In Photoshop you can either open Filters and browse through all the effects manually which are split into separate categories to help make navigation easier or you can click the Filter Gallery (highlighted in the screenshot). This will open a new window where you can see thumbnail previews of each filter in action and see a real-time mock-up of your image with that effect applied to it before you press OK, making browsing the filters that much easier. Until you learn what each filter does you're probably best off looking round the filter gallery so you can have a play and work out what each filter does and their possible uses.
In Paint Shop Pro the filters are stored in the Effects drop-down menu, and once again they are categorised for easier searching. There is also an Effect Browser which allows you to search through all the effects in a more primitive rendition of Photoshop's Filter Gallery. However, this also allows you to preview the effect of some of the Adjustments too, which is good because a key difference between PSP and the other two packages is that all the blur and noise tools are actually in the adjustment section rather than the effects. Strange, but true. Once again, its best to browse about in the Effects Browser to get an idea first of all rather than endlessly clicking through the menus.
GIMP is the only application with no sort of Browser for the filters, however if you are familiar with the other two packages at all then the filters are pretty much in the same places (for future reference GIMP's interface is generally closer to Photoshop's than Paint Shop Pro) and once again they are in the Filters drop-down menu.
There you have it, a quick guide to the tools in graphics software.