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Surface Design Using Paint Shop Pro 8

Jasc Paint Shop Pro v 8
Paint Shop Pro version 8.1 that I've been using for over thirteen years!
As I revealed in this blog post, I have been working with Paint Shop Pro 8 since 2003. That is a seriously long time to be using any specific software version, given how the act of convincing customers to buy new releases of everything is how software companies make their money.

But as it turns out, newer isn't always better. And how you view whether or not upgrading a piece of software is worth the effort totally depends on how you use it.

In my case, I had been using PSP8 for the majority of all these years in the most elementary way possible. Since I started dabbling in fabric design in 2015, I've had the motivation to dig into those other capabilities of the program and have been amazed at what "a couple of clicks" — literally — can do!

This page is my repository of tips and hints and tricks that I've stumbled upon while using Paint Shop Pro to design fabric. I will add to it as I come across new stuff that seems worthwhile to share. Enjoy!

Oh, just one more thing: this is not meant to teach you how to use PSP. I assume you know what the tools are and how they work (generally speaking) and have an idea of what they can do.

The Paisley Project (Extended Version!)

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
The Paisley Project: A to B...
My blog post about this project provided an overview of the steps that I took to get from A to B.

In between, however, were a bunch of PSP steps that would be of no interest to anyone who didn't want to actually replicate the process.

So this is where we will start... from the point of having just scanned in your original hand drawing.

Clean Up Lines

To give you an idea of what you have to deal with once you open up your drawing in PSP, here is the top left quandrant of mine:
The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
The lines of my scanned drawing are inconsistent to say the least...

I found a set of instructions on a website called Sumonova.com that I used to improve my sketch, to a point.

NOTE: The author states that this technique is better suited for a drawing that is darkened in pencil; I had already used a felt tip marker on mine when I came across this web page, so there was no changing that for my situation. That may be why my result was not as "awesome!" as I felt it should have been.

But here is what I got after following the process as detailed in the fourth paragraph ("So you sketched out a drawing..."), only instead of using the hard light layer setting, I went with burn.

An improvement...

If you followed the instructions, you'll have two layers at this point. Merge them together and use the "save copy as" function to get a copy to work from for the next step. (I suggest going with the .TIF format.)

[If I have any recommendation to make about PSP, it's to save often and save multiple copies at various stages of your work. And always ensure that you retain an original with layers! I actually created my original for this design with each paisley on a separate layer.]

As you can see in the above, the lines are darker now. But there are still areas that need attention as well as little "bits" that should be erased. So make friends with your eraser and pen tools. The red circled area in the following picture has been "improved".

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
Cleanup underway...

The eraser tool is fairly straight forward. Use a small eraser and the magnifying glass to get up close and you should have no problems.

The pen tool is another story in itself. I don't mind admitting that it still has me largely stumped. Most of my great results come accidentally when I use the point-to-point mode, so unless a situation forces my hand, I just work with small line segments. I used a 3 pixel width when I made the above corrections.

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If you're more adventurous than I am at this time, you may want to follow the rest of the suggestions on that page from sumonova... it goes into how to use the pen tool to fix a drawing.

If you're intent on colouring parts of your completed image, I have a tip: make sure that any component that you want to be separate is enclosed by lines. For example, if you have five flower petals that you want to colour separately, make sure that each petal can be selected individually.

Clean Up Lines Using Hue & Saturation

As a final step, to take care of the lines that were overly polluted with non-black pixels, I used the Adjust | Hue and Saturation | Colorize... option to clean it up. Set both values to "0" (actually just setting Saturation to "0" will do it).

PSP Colorize Command
Blacken your lines using this simple command...

Other Cleanups

Dump a solid colour onto the background layer of your image and check to see if there any oddly tinted spots along any edges. Something like the following seems small, but if you later intend to have a dark background, it'll be visible.

Remove small imperfections if they are visible...

A small pixel setting on your eraser or careful use of the freehand selection tool (followed by a delete) will take care of these. It's often painstaking work, but if it's noticeable, you'll want to fix it. Just make sure you're working on the right layer!

Create a Seamless Pattern Tile

However it gets done, once your drawing is as perfect as you need it to be, save it as a separate (single layer) file again. You will now use the Effects | Image Effects | Offset command to split up your drawing.

I will use a simple image of a flower to demonstrate.

PSP Offset Demonstration by eSheep Designs
Creating a seamless pattern tile...

Photo #1 above is the original photo. Here is how the offset command is used to make the first "cut" of this image:

PSP Offset Command
First, change the Vertical offset to 0...

Click the radio button for Center. (The actual numbers that you'll see will depend on your specific image, so pay no mind to the numbers shown here.) Replace whatever value appears as the Vertical offset with a "0". (Note that as soon as you do this, the radio button selection will change from Center to Custom.) Ensure that the edge mode is Wrap and click the OK button to execute.

My image now looks like photo #2.

Go back into the offset command and repeat the same steps to set the horizontal offset to 0:

PSP Offset Command
Now change the Horizontal offset to 0...

My image now looks like photo #3.

To take full advantage of this method, the next step is to add elements in the middle. You can do this in one of two ways. First, you can print out the image and go back to pencil and paper to create some more (and re-scan your result after). Or — and this is what I did — you can go back to the original PSP digitized drawing and copy existing elements. Those can then be resized, rotated, or modified in some manner and then pasted into the blank spaces.

When I did that with my simple flower, I got photo #4. And here is what it would look like as a fat quarter:

Wasn't that way simpler than you expected??

Add Some Colour

If you're a PSP user, you likely know at least a couple of ways to add colour. The process I use the most is the simple "select and flood fill" (with the bucket).

But once you have elements coloured in, then what? How do you easily change it? If you've never used the colour replacer tool, now's the time to start! I found it extremely handy to make quick changes, especially when the replacer tool is set to the biggest that it can be.

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
Make quick work out of changing colours by using the replacer tool...

I'm sweeping the entire surface here in my examples, but if you wanted to apply the colour change to only a specific area, you would of course select that area first.

You can not only replace colour with colour, you can replace colour with a gradient or pattern, as I've done here:

The Paisley Project by eSheep Designs
Grey is replaced by a pattern called Dot Wave Rainbow here...

Note that in this case, my recommendation to save multiple copies comes into play... once you have replaced a colour with a gradient or a pattern, it's often not so simple to replace that result with another colour! (I'm sure if you're a PSP user, you have long since acquainted yourself with the "undo" command!)

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