Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Using Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 to Enhance Your Digital Photography

by Tony Celeste
In this article, you'll learn how to use Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 with your digital camera. I'll go over the entire process: downloading your photos from your camera to Corel PHOTO-PAINT, accomplishing brightness and contrast adjustments, performing point and click color correction, touching up with blurring and sharpening, and cleaning up problem areas with the Clone Tool.
Downloading from Your Digital Camera
There are several different methods for downloading photos from your camera's memory to your computer. For example, some computers have interfaces that allow you to remove the memory chip from the camera and plug it directly into the computer. Also, some high-end cameras write directly to mini CDs, which can then be placed in your CD drive and read like any other disk. There are also various methods for downloading from your digital camera using your computer's USB port. All of these methods vary among different digital camera manufacturers and different operating systems.
None of the methods is necessarily easier or better than any other, it's just a matter of personal preference. In this article, I'll demonstrate how to download your photos using your digital camera's USB "twain driver", since this method can be used on all operating systems that support Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12, and since the process differs very little among the various camera manufacturers.
To begin, open Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12, click File | Acquire Image | Select Source, and select your digital camera from the list of USB imaging devices attached to your computer (as with printers and scanners, your camera will need a driver to allow it connect to your computer; so if your camera isn't listed, make sure that you installed the driver).
Your digital camera is now set up as the default USB graphics device connected to Corel PHOTO-PAINT (of course, this can be changed at any time). Next, click File | Acquire Image | Acquire. An interface will open inside Corel PHOTO-PAINT enabling you to select the photo or photos that you would like to download (the interface for your digital camera may look slightly different from the one below).
You can download a single image by double-clicking it. To select multiple images, hold down the CTRL key while clicking. To select a series of consecutive images, click on the first image, hold down the SHIFT key, and then click on the last image. Click File | Acquire to download your images to Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Note that these are general instructions, there will be slight variations among different manufacturers. For example, your interface may use File | Open instead of File | Acquire, or may replace menu commands with a Download button or an OK button.
Just about every digital photo you take will require some type of editing before it's ready to be printed or published to the Web. Most editing will involve minor corrections such as brightness and contrast, color enhancement, and blurring or sharpening. I'll use the photo below to explain these concepts. This photo was taken at Fort Lauderdale Beach, in April, 2004, at about 6 pm. The shadows caused by taking a picture on the east side of the beach, when the sun was setting in the west, created a brightness issue; so I'll start out with that.
Brightness and Contrast
Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 provides several tools in the Image | Adjust submenu that can be used to adjust brightness and contrast. I've found that the most convenient tool to work with is the Tone Color tool (located near the bottom of the Adjust submenu).
All Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 Adjust and Effect filters enable "before" and "after" previews, as shown above. If you're not seeing any preview windows, click the first small button in the upper left corner of the filter's window (under the words "Color Tone") to enable before and after previews. If you're only seeing one large preview window (this is an "after" preview) click the second of the two buttons in the upper left. You can zoom in to the preview windows by placing your cursor over the "before" window and clicking your left mouse button, and you can zoom out by placing your cursor over the "before" window and clicking your right mouse button.
The Color Tone window can be used to adjust brightness, saturation, and contrast, all from within the same interface. The Color Tone filter also provides thumbnails that show how each adjustment will affect your image, which helps you decide which adjustment to apply. You can apply an adjustment more than once, and provide any combination of adjustments that you desire. The Step control, located near the middle right of the window, controls how much each adjustment changes your image. I set the Step control to 25 in the above screen shot, so that you could get an idea of how the available adjustments work, by looking at the thumbnails. However, you'll probably find the default Step setting of 10 to be much more practical.
With the Step setting set to 10, I clicked the Lighter thumbnail twice to brighten this image. Since brightness changes also cause contrast changes, after you adjust brightness, it's always a good idea to examine your image's contrast to see if it needs adjusting. In this case, the added brightness caused a somewhat "washed out" appearance, so I increased contrast by clicking once on the contrast thumbnail. At this point, the sand still had a washed out, off-white color to it, so I clicked the Saturate thumbnail once to restore the sand to its normal light brown color.
Color Correction
As with the brightness and contrast adjustments, Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 provides many tools for working with color. In this example, I'll use the Color Hue filter. To access the Color Hue filter, click Image | Adjust | Color Hue.
The Color Hue filter uses thumbnails that are similar to those found in the Color Tone filter. As with the Color Tone filter, I increased the Step value so that you could get a better idea of how each thumbnail works. In practice, you'll likely find that the default value of 10, or even a value of 5, is more appropriate.
The Color Hue filter works on the concept that red and cyan are "opposites" on the color wheel (see below), as are green and magenta, and yellow and blue. This is reflected in the filter's thumbnails: if you click More red, and then click More cyan, you'll end up with the exact same image that you started out with, since the two changes cancel each other out. Think of it as being at a set point on the color wheel, and moving 20 pixels away from red and toward cyan. If you then move 20 pixels in the opposite direction, away from cyan and toward red, you'll end up at exactly the same point as where you started.
The Color Wheel is used to represent the complete spectrum of colors. Note that certain colors, such as red and cyan, are opposite each other in the color wheel. You can drag and drop this color wheel into Corel PHOTO-PAINT, and using the Eyedropper Tool, obtain the color values for any of the True colors, or any of the colors anywhere on the wheel.
You'll likely find the best color correction for your image by experimenting with various thumbnail adjustments. Note that you can also disable adjustment to your image's highlights, midtones, and/or shadows, and you can disable luminance (overall image brightness) by un-checking the appropriate boxes. For this particular image, I felt that the sand had a very mild reddish hue to it, and that the sky had a little too much blue. I adjusted the image's color by setting the Step slider to 5 and clicking More cyan one time.
Blurring and Sharpening
Most images that are brought into your computer from a scanner or a digital camera will need either a blur or a sharpen adjustment (I've noticed that digital camera images are likely to need sharpening more often than they need blurring). With this image, I felt that the edges of the sand and waves were a little dull, so I decided to apply a slight sharpen effect. Corel PHOTO-PAINT 12 makes available 10 blur filters, which are accessed by clicking Effects | Blur; and 5 sharpen filters, which are accessed by clicking Effects | Sharpen. There are also Tune Blur and Tune Sharpen filters available that are similar to the Color Tone and Color Hue filters, they display thumbnails that preview image correction. The Tune Blur filter is located in the Blur submenu (Effects | Blur), and the Tune Sharpen filter is accessed by clicking Image | Correction | Tune Sharpen.
When it comes to blurring and sharpening, you'll usually know in advance what type of effect you want to apply, so you may find it more convenient to use a specific filter instead of Tune Blur or Tune Sharpen. For sharpening, I most often use the Unsharp Mask filter for close up images (such as a model's face) and the Sharpen filter for more widely focused images (such as the sample image here).
The Threshold slider works in the reverse of what you might expect: instead of increasing sharpening as you increase the level, it lowers sharpening as you increase the level. For most images, you'll find a Threshold of 1 - 10 to be best, I usually start at 5 and then adjust the Edge level. Increasing the Edge level increases the sharpening effect. For most images, a value between 1 and 25 will be appropriate. Very high Edge level settings will remove almost all detail from your image, so they're not suitable for most photos, but they can be used to create a sketch pad special effect, in which your image looks like it was sketched using colored pencils.
A Quick Look at Environmental Cleanup
There's just one last bit of fine tuning that this image needs: There are three pieces of debris (a rag, a plastic bag, and a styrofoam cup) on the sand (see right). Fortunately, each of these can be removed with a single brush stroke of the Clone Tool. The Clone Tool copies an area of the image, and essentially creates a paint brush using the area's shape and colors. You can then use this brush to to paint over problem areas in the image.
To access the Clone Tool, press the letter C (Corel PHOTO-PAINT must be in front of all other open programs on your screen for keyboard shortcuts such as this to work). In the Property Bar (located near the top of the screen), click the Shape drop-down box and select 40 (see below). Set the size to 25, the transparency to 0, make sure the antialiasing button is pressed, and set the feathering to 100 (as shown below).
To set the area to clone, right-click to the right of a piece of debris (see right). Next, center the round cursor directly over the nearby piece of debris, and then left-click directly over the debris. Repeat this procedure for the remaining pieces of debris. The Clone Tool will replace the debris with sand colors that blend in perfectly with the surrounding image.
Why not use the new Touchup tool to remove the debris? Or maybe, mention the Touchup tool as an alternative way of completing the task?
Editing Complete
Here's a look at this image when it was first downloaded from the digital camera, and after all of the above enhancements. Click on the thumbnails for a look at the full-size images.
I hope you've found this article helpful and informative. It's been a long time since I've written for and, I've definitely enjoyed doing so again. - Tony Celeste
Anthony L. Celeste is a Technical Writer, Multimedia Designer, and Windows Programmer living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You may contact him at

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