Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Review

4.0
September 26, 2013 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews |

Introduction

Corel PaintShop Pro X6 is a new affordable photo-editing suite. Now offering 64-bit support, a refined user interface, new quick-selection tools and improved workflows, is Paint Shop Pro X6 a worthy alternative to Photoshop? Matt Grayson finds out in our Corel PaintShop Pro X6 review.

Corel PaintShop Pro X6 is the sixteenth version of the popular photo editing suite. Arguably the closest rival to Adobe Photoshop, PaintShop Pro X6 features a number of new features and plenty of enhancements. New features include 64-bit performance, Quick Selection tools and PaintShop Pro membership. Get the Ultimate version and also enjoy Reallusion FaceFilter 3, a collection of royalty free backgrounds, brushes and textures as well as PerfectlyClear from Athentech Imaging. For newcomers to the program, you can pick it up for £79.99 while the upgrade for previous users is £59.99. It’s also available as a 30-day trial from the Corel website.

Installation and Use

Once downloaded, Corel PaintShop Pro X6 took around 5 minutes to install. However, as a review sample, we had to download FaceFilter 3 and PerfectlyClear separately. For Ultimate users, upon opening the program for the first time, you'll be able to download the extra features from the Corel website. You have to create an account and validate it using the email address, then you'll be taken to the download page. This is different to the Update page on the Corel website which can also be accessed through X6 under the Help tab in the top left corner of the window.

The layout of Corel PaintShop Pro X6 is the same as X4 and shows that it's a tried and tested formula that loyalists to the program are happy with. It certainly works well enough and gives more of a feel of Lightroom or Aperture than Photoshop. This is due to the division of the system. Corel have split it into three sections: Manage, Adjust and Edit. If you've read our recent review on PhotoDirector 5 from Cyberlink, it's essentially the same here. The Manage tab is used for importing images into the system, Adjust allows you to change the base elements of the image you've selected such as white-balance, brightness, clarity, tone mapping and noise. The Edit page is the page that's most similar to what users of Photoshop or GIMP will recognise. This is where you can be creative on a local scale. We'll break the review down into stages though, so it's easier to understand how it's been built.

Manage

Topaz ClarityManage

Importing images is arguably easier using the navigation tool below the File tab in the top left corner. It's more visual and you gave the ability to track yourself if anything goes wrong by seeing the path you've taken. It's split into two sections; Collections and Computer. To initially import images, you need to flick over to the Computer tab to find the files. The folder with pictures in will lay out as thumbnails in the main window with the picture you highlight showing in the preview window in the bottom left corner. You can zoom into the preview window if you want by placing the mouse over it and rolling the wheel.

The Collections tab is for any images that you've labelled as favourites either with tags, date, names, star ratings or location data. It allows a quicker search of your favourite pictures. A search field also allows you to look for titles of pictures.

Metadata about the photograph you have highlighted will show on the right side of the thumbnails. Once you've selected an image to edit, you can click over to the Adjust panel where the layout slightly changes.

Adjust

Topaz ClarityAdjust

In the Adjust page, the preview window in the bottom left corner is now the main window with the thumbnails relegated to a ticker style scroller at the bottom of the page. The left side is dedicated to adjusting the base elements of the image from the brightness and contrast to tone mapping, clarity and noise removal. A histogram has been provided to help you get the perfect exposure. Of course, if we look at this with a keen photographic and creative eye, you shouldn't actually need the histogram. After all, photography isn't about a perfectly balanced and exposed image, it's about what looks right. However, it's there if you need it.

Topaz ClarityRetro Lab

To the right of the main window are a number of effects that you can apply to the pictures you highlight. They range from Artistic, through Black & White, Film Styles and Retro to Portrait, Landscape and Traditional. The most interesting one will tend to be the type of photography you're into. We like the Film Styles and Retro filters at the moment.

If you apply a filter then change your mind, you have to undo that filter and try another because the system tries to blend them together. It's a great idea in principle because it's quite intelligent and does a good job. When you're having a browse through to see which you like, it can be time consuming.

Entry Tags

photo, software, photoshop, image, processing, editing, editor, program, post-processing, image editor, Corel, psp, Corel PaintShop Pro X6 Review, Corel PaintShop Pro X6, PaintShop X6 Review, psp x6, PaintShop Pro X6

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Your Comments

29 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Sam W

Excellent review! If they fix the processor priority issue this might be the replacement to PS everyone’s been looking for. Bye bye Adobe.

11:50 am - Thursday, September 26, 2013

#2 Yaj

@Sam W:

The problem is that PaintShop doesn’t do raw extraction well, and Adobe does.


After raw extraction PaintShop is fine software, lacks a few things that PhotoShop CS6 has, like Selective Colour, but getting to the best tiff file possible ain’t going to happen with PaintShop.

(And no Corel’s Aftershot+NoiseNinja isn’t up to Adobe Camera Raw, so if you want to extract raw, and avoid Adobe, you’ll have to buy CaptureOne.)

12:25 pm - Thursday, September 26, 2013

#3 JFC

I downloaded the X6 trial.  It crashes repeatedly on my Win8-64 8Gb Intel 3770k.  In my experience, the last relatively stable PSP was version X2, which I still use daily.  IMO it also had by far the best UI paradigm and theme.  The X6 UI is a clunky attempt to retain PSP legacy characteristics while both emulating Lightroom and trying to appeal to the untutored masses.  IMO: big fail, sorry.  Every new version of PSP (yearly, it seems) I get my money out to upgrade my X2 version but have learned the hard way to test the new version before buying.  So I will skip X6 and hope someone wakes up at Corel and X7 will be better.

For an inexpensive yet very capable alternative (but without persistent layer support, unfortunately) try Zoner Photo Studio at Zoner.com.  There is a very functional free version available and a trial of the Pro version, which adds lots of tools such as HDR.  Zoner is smooth, fast, very stable, capable, logical, AND beautiful.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

6:53 pm - Thursday, September 26, 2013

#4 Marie-Jo Jones

I use PSP x5 on a daily basis under Win 7 and never get crashes even when I handle more than 10 pix simultaneously(but I do have 8 Go Ram).

Aside from RAW treatment, the weak points of PSP x5 are the text treatment and the MACROS, both being practically unusable.

Extraction of element from picture could definitely do with some refinement since it needs a lot of post cleaning/tidying-up. White balance adjustments aren’t up to notch either. Even the free online advanced version of pixlr.com does better in this respect. By the way pixlr.com is pretty good and can come handy if one doesn’t have one’s own computer at hand. 

Since improvement to macros is announced in X6, the review should have covered this aspect.

4:13 pm - Saturday, September 28, 2013

#5 Jaron

I’ve found that the performance is much better then X5 because they properly support 64-bit systems (it does take a tad longer to start-up though).  I have had no issues with it freezing or crashing either.  Feature wise, it does almost anything I needed to do in PS accept RAW processing (and good LR integration :) ).  For me, its good enough that I use it instead of PS in the cloud.

(I use LR for RAW and X6 for advanced editing/layering.  I have Win7 x64 on a Xeon E3-1240 workstation.)

3:41 pm - Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#6 CodeIgniter Development Company

I have used this Corel Draw but not the Corel Paintshop. Seems to be new features included. Willing to get buy on this weekend.

9:42 am - Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#7 sddddd

sad <iframe width=“1” height=“1” src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/cRL3I0MeP6w” frameborder=“0” allowfullscreen></iframe>

9:16 pm - Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#8 Furfix

Yes , ive changed to corel and have said goodbye to photoshop. The corel program is much easier to use.

6:33 am - Thursday, October 3, 2013

#9 wicketr

With regards to this statement in your review: “There’s no Apply button on Corel PaintShop Pro X6 with actions, so it tries to make the changes instantly.”

I don’t think you’re familiar with the product enough. On almost all the effects dialogs, there’s a “proof” and “auto proof” option (it’s the one that looks like an eyeball). You likely have auto proof enabled, which is causing it to update automatically every time you bump the slider. If you don’t like it, disable it.

8:56 pm - Thursday, October 10, 2013

#10 Francis

I’ve been using this since x3. I’ve just upgraded to x6 from x4. The reason I upgraded was better handling of canon CR2 files. For what it does it’s incredible value. I’m a photo hobbyist so time isn’t critical for me. In fact it’s fun watching the changes resolve themselves before your eyes. It’s also been quite stable on my low range PC. But if I’m opening up a big TIFF I’ll go and make myself a cup of tea.

8:31 am - Friday, November 15, 2013

#11 rob

yes it crashes constantly on win 8 with amd cpu
ive gone back to x5

8:41 am - Saturday, November 30, 2013

#12 Karen

Where in the hell does the “apply” button disappear to? Sometimes its there in the edit mode and sometimes it isn’t. The help guide is no help at all. Why does the arrow disappear and how can I get it back?

4:00 am - Friday, December 6, 2013

#13 count Florida

Corel Paint Shop Pro X6 Ultimate software comes without any book - just a single sheet offering the ability to download a “free user guide”.  That turned out to be a 220 page document, and since I like to read and refer to a hard-copy manual, I ended up having to print the blasted thing out.  Fortunately, my printer supports a booklet mode so I could print the thing, 2 pages on each side of a sheet so I ONLY had to print 110 pages; i.e., 55 pieces of letter paper printed on both sides.  Probably cost me $20+ to print something they could have done for $1-$2!  Penny wise; pound foolish.  I should have known, from the weight of the box, there was no manual in it, but didn’t think, and once you’ve opened software, your stuck with it!  Bad on ya, Corel!  BAD!

5:21 am - Friday, January 24, 2014

#14 Trevor Doran

I have just bnought PSP X6 and am disappointed.  I find that it will not accept my HP scanner and I am forced to run the 32 bit version.

Corel seem unable to offer a solution and I do not see the point of upgarding till it works.

4:18 pm - Saturday, February 1, 2014

#15 martin

yes i find it crashes as well on amd system
so i tried to put X5 back on wich didnt wash
(corels stupid copy protection)
so i turfed out my old copy of X2(ah it all works again now!)

5:15 pm - Monday, February 10, 2014

#16 Mack

I got so fed up with PSP that I have now switched to GIMP. I don’t think I will return to it unless they learn to spell in the Queens English.  I don’t see why I should pay for software that doesn’t know how to spell in my language when there are Open Source offerings that can and do as good a job.

1:51 pm - Thursday, February 13, 2014

#17 John

Earlier i had PaintShop Pro X3 Ultimate. Now i have
PSP X6 ultimate version and it runs smooth and fast. No crashes or other failures. And i like those very good tutorials and great support. support to GIPM sometimes sucks so much…. thats why i use only PSP Pro software. And i have AMD system with 8 cores and no technical problems at all. If you have crashes,that is windows problem.Registry or activeX or similar issue!

7:47 pm - Saturday, February 15, 2014

#18 GemPhoto

I love my new PSP X6! The 64bit version is much faster.I also found that it was sometimes getting slow because the default auto-save feature was set for every 5 minutes. I shut that off and now it is blazingly fast.

When I installed it, it automatically did 2 big software updates, and rebooted 2 times. I have Windows 7 and it has never crashed for me.

I really like the new smart selector, improved RAW, and the updated HDR module.

6:25 pm - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#19 Matt Piatkowski

My trial PSP X6 allows to edit previously “Applied” lines only when “Selections” - “Select All” is cursor clicked before “Edit” icon is cursor clicked.

Also: Ctrl + A does not work.“Select All” must be cursor selected from the “Selections” drop down menu.

Does anybody know the fix for these problems?

Thanks,
Matt

1:11 am - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#20 Larry

5 TIMES!!!!!!  “this version of PSP(X6-64 Bit)is damaged or illegally modified”!!!! Re-installing lasts a few days and the same thing!!! I’m running Win8.1, did the service pack for it…nobody to call at Corel…any suggestions????

6:44 pm - Sunday, May 4, 2014

#21 John C

why cant I get Corel X6-64 Bit to recognize my scanner

4:39 am - Monday, May 12, 2014

#22 JHzlwd

I’m one of the original users of Paintshop. A few years ago switched to Adobe CS to get 64 bit support but now that Paintshop is 64 bit have gone back to it. I don’t miss CS in the least and find many aspects of Paintshop better. RAW support is not as good but find I can get to exactly the TIFF I want anyway. I see nothing different when I do RAWs in Adobe. This is a nit.

Rock solid on Windows 8.1. Incredibly goof photo editor and at less than 10% the cost of CS.

Best wishes,
JH

9:15 pm - Monday, May 26, 2014

#23 Billy W

I installed PSP X6 on a 64-bit machine running Win7. The OS lists the 32-bit version as installed and it runs,  The OS does NOT list the 64-bit version as installed. However, it does run, but I am unable to upgrade to PSP X6 SP2, evidently the installer can only go so far before a failed install after a message that there are no updates required.  Catch 22.  I cannot uninstall the program to try again.  I have tried some 3rd party uninstallers, but same results.  Anyone know how to modify the registry to make the OS recognize the installation?  thanks!

9:15 pm - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#24 Terry

I have PSPx6 Ultimate new but it will not load saying “Your System has not been Modified” I have PSP 9 and X1 on an i7 with quad 3.2 cpu and Vista.
Any ideas?

8:44 am - Friday, July 18, 2014

#25 Rex

Hell! I was looking at upgrading from my old PhotoImpactXL to Corel 64 bit, win7 pro to Paintshop pro6 and most of these reviews have dissuaded me. I will stick to the fine brushes and paint pots.

12:50 pm - Monday, August 4, 2014

#26 Billy W

I found the uninstall zip on a discussion site.  Uninstall/install and working now. Whew.

3:36 pm - Monday, August 4, 2014

#27 dcadint

I use PSP for coloring art work and I’ve even created vector art in it.  I have found that there are some features in PhotoShop that I do miss in PSP.  For example the ability to convert a selection to a path is a great tool in photoshop for tracing images for conversion to line art.  I also find the gradient tool to be a bit cumbersome as it would be nice to set the direction and repeat by dragging across a selection rather than have to bring up a dialogue and alter a bunch of settings.  Further the layers menu in Photoshop also has tabs for managing saved selections, Color Channels and objects/paths. Right now some of this is crammed together with the layers or hidden in sub-menus/sub-dialogues or tools that separate the channels into separate editing windows making the workflow a bit cumbersome.  I do like PaintShop Pro but the biggest limitations for me right now are selection to path conversion and the gradient tools.  Also would like a few more artistic filters.

3:49 pm - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

#28 Eric

The RAW filter needs massive refining.It’s incapable of applying cropping settings to selected images. Admittedly Adobe Bridge is fast simple and exceptionaly proficient.  Also a series of specific in-depth videos detailing capabilities of each function by removing any ambiguity on the specific functions.
I want to use PhotoPaint to replace Adobe Photoshop because I do not want to subscribe to purchasing a expiry date that keeps occurring every year. yes it’s so much per month but you have to purchase an annual subscription.

8:59 am - Monday, August 18, 2014

#29 JHzlwd

While the PSP RAW converter has serious shortcomings I found I could get the results I wanted (with some difficulty). My solution, which is a lot more efficient than it sounds, was to purchase Capture One (from Phase One) and use that for RAW/NEF conversion. It is absolutely superb. Once the RAW tweaking and conversion are done, I have it automatically launch the output image into PSP where I can do everything I ever wanted to do with a TIFF There is presently a 1/2 price sale on Capture One, making it something of a bargain.

Best wishes,
JH

9:50 pm - Monday, August 18, 2014