PSP 7 Basics

I realized the other day that tutorials for Paint Shop Pro 7 are kind of falling off the grid. I don't use it a lot, but it's a good solid program and there are people who have it or can get it either free or cheap from the web. Since I know a few of those people, I thought I'd do some basic tutorials for it.

To use this tutorial you need PSP 7. I believe you can still find a trial copy out there, but I totally recommend getting one of the more recent updates if you can. The full version of PSP 7 still costs about $99 so don't mess with this lower version unless you already have it.

Getting Around

Open PSP 7. You'll find it in your menu under "JASC Software". It'll take only a few minutes. Once it loads, you'll see a 'tip' box come up. These are actually really helpful, but you can click the little box to not show them again later on once you're used to the program.

The first time you enter, you'll probably get a lot of little menu boxes. Go ahead and close them all for now. We'll open the important ones as we go.

Here's the PSP environment.

The big gray area is a kind of 'desktop' area where you'll put your work. You don't need your picture to fit in this space as this isn't a picture, it's just a work area. You can in fact have many pictures on here while creating, all open for you to view.

There are three basic menu's along the edges of PSP 7. We'll take them one by one here. We'll start with the top menu.

The top menu is basically the menu to save, print, and work on your pictures. The ones at the end open and close the menus inside your workspace, the ones you closed earlier to view the overall workspace.


The left menu are your drawing tools. These will allow you to crop pictures, move them, shape them, color them and all manner of other items.


The right menu is your 'pallette' of color, your styles and textures. One of the first things you should so is actually click the little "lock" button. This button is responsible for keeping your chosen color no matter what tool (above) you are using. If it's unmarked (as shown in the picture) then the color will be different every time you go to use a new tool. Go ahead and click that now.

Let's get working on a basic picture!

Making Basic Text

Let's learn to make our name in a fancy font with a texture and color.

Open a new window, 300x300.

This instruction means to click on the 'blank paper' button.

This will open a new box with options for you to choose from.

You can enter any number in "width" and "height" that you like. If you make an image size that's bigger than your screen can support, PSP will automatically shrink it so you can see it. For example, if you enter 5000x5000 and click "ok", it'll show up as one whole size, but at a %. On my computer, it came up like this:

The [1:8] means that the image is 1/8th of it's normal size. I would need to zoom in 8x to see it at 100%. can also control the background color. Right now it's set to the default of 'transparent'. This means that you'll get a black and white checkerboard pattern that YOU see, but there is no actual color in the background. If you save a transparent picture right, you can put your picture or design on any background in the future and it should kind of 'meld' into it overall. I have a tutorial for saving transparent backgrounds over here if you'd like to learn that later.

For our sample, we're going to go ahead and leave the background as transparent and make the size of the picture 300x300. Go ahead and click "ok" and a new little box will appear.

What you have now is your first image space. You'll notice that it sits on the desktop area and you can move it around the desktop to anywhere. You can also minimize it, open it full window, or close it. It's showing at it's full size [1:1] or 100%. It also says 'image1' and (layer1). Image 1 means that it's the first image you've opened for the day. If you look at the last picture I took where I explained about the size ratio, you'll see it says 'image3'. It was the only image I had open, but it was the 3rd one since I opened PSP7. Layer1 means it's showing me the first 'layer' of the picture. Let's talk about layers!

Layers are a little hard to understand unless you're working with them, which is what we're doing. Layers are really what makes PSP more advanced than the "Paint" program. Basically, you can put a picture on a picture on a picture and then work with all three to create one. Yeah - that didn't make sense if you've never worked with PSP before, so let me demonstrate with this image.

This picture has 3 layers. Layer 1 is the multicolor red/orange. Layer 2 is the blue wavy lines. Layer 3 is the green block. They are making one image together. 

To use layers it's wise to open the layer pallette. You can toggle it on and off with this:

And it looks like this:

Here you can see all three layers labeled 1, 2, and 3. On the palette I can manipulate all the layers, merge them together, change their density and all kinds of things. We'll need this later, so go ahead and open it now and we'll continue with the lesson.

Right now you have this:

Let's add your name to the space.  Click the "text" tool. It's not shown in the above picture, it's a little lower than that. It's basically an "A".

In all my example pictures you'll notice that words appear. This is natural to the program and happens when you put your mouse on the menu item. This is very helpful and lets you know what each little picture does. Press the A button then move your mouse into the middle of "image1" above.

Your mouse will look like this on your picture. Don't worry about where your text is positioned inside the area, we'll fix that later too. Go ahead and click again once your mouse is where you want it.  This is going to open another 'dialog' box.

This is where we make text work for us. The stuff in the big white box that's highlighted in blue is the actual text that will show once we click OK. Go ahead and type your name there. What you type will automatically appear inside your image window behind this box.

This will allow you to preview what you're making. As you can see, I've got a plain text in blue with an orange border kind of in the middle of my space. In the preview window, you'll notice the text is no longer highlighted in blue. In order to change the text, it must be highlighted. Go ahead and click and drag over the letters of your name in the preview window to highlight them in blue again. 

Let's change the text to something more interesting. Fonts are FUN and I have about 3 billion of them. You can download scads for free on the internet. Some of my favorites are:

1001 Free Fonts - Simply The Best Fonts

You can just go to Google and type in "free fonts" and come up with dozens. For our example, let's change the font to "Wide Latin", which you should have. To do this, click on the 'down arrow' where it says "name" and "Ariel".

You can either scroll down to "Wide Latin" or start typing it in the window provided (where it says Ariel). Once you have it on the list, highlight it and just let go. It should change your font in both the preview window and on your image. (Again, remember that the text MUST BE highlighted in blue in order to change.)

As you can see, my name is now going off the image. That's OK! I can fix that once I'm done tweaking the text to how I want it. Don't panic over it. If you can't handle it, go ahead and click OK now and move your text (instructions are a little farther down this page.) Let's change the color now.

This is a good wide text and one that can handle a border color as well as an interior color. The border color is called the "stroke" color. The interior color is the "fill" color. You can't really tell from the picture above, but the "fill" color is actually a pattern of blue. We can add patterns to this font because it is such a wide and big font. But I don't like the blue or the orange for this picture. Let's change the 'stroke' color by clicking AND HOLDING the colorful button down. What should happen is this:

Holding the button down will allow us to change the TYPE of color. You see some pictures here of a paintbrush, a kind of 3tiered gray rainbow, a set of 9 dots and a circle with a / through it. The paintbrush represents solid colors. The rainbow means a 'gradient' or a kind of rainbow of color, which is what it's on now. The 9 dots represent patterns, like the blue in our 'fill' area. The circle is actually for 'none', or no color. Please select the paintbrush. Click again, fast this time, and this happens:

This is the color palette. You'll open this palette anytime you want to a change a color. There are many ways to choose a color. Click one of the 'basic color' blocks, or use your mouse to choose a main color from the big colorful circle and then from inside the box, or you can enter an 'HTML' color code. You can save 'custom colors' as you go along and find colors you like you just want to keep. Right now, let's just choose black as a nice outline color for our text. You can do that from the "basic color" blocks.

Okay, my picture taker keeps showing my cursor (an eye dropper) on the "not quite black" button. It's the one on the top right I'd like you to choose.  You can ignore the "R" = red. "G" = green "B" = blue thing that's appearing. and go ahead and click on the black and click "OK". Now you have this:

Which looks kind of horrible, so let's change the blue. Let's leave it as a texture so go ahead and just click quickly. It'll take a second for the textures to load. Once it does, it will look like this:

What you want to click is actually the little down arrow you see. That will open up a menu of choices.

Which looks kind of messy in this picture. What you want to is scroll down until you find something you like. I'm going to choose "stained wood" and click OK.

Let's change the size of our text from 26 to 36. Use the drop down and change it.

If this is too big for your name, go ahead and choose what size font suits you. Click "OK" and we're done manipulating the text.

Our text is far off the image area, however. It's an easy fix. The first thing you can do is to select the very middle little square on the text. In my picture above, you'll see it in the "O" in Deoris. Click it, hold it, and move the text. You'll see the outline of your text move as you go.

Let go and the text will be where you want it.

If you're a little more particular, you can also move the text like this:

Across the top, choose "objects" then "align" and scroll right toward the arrow and the other menu will appear. Choosing "center" will center the text in the exact middle of the picture. "Horizontal" will center the text in the middle from left to right and "Vertical" will center it from top to bottom. For our tutorial, choose 'center in canvas' and click.

So now we have some lovely text with our name on it. If we try to save this picture, everything you see in this window will save as this exact size. That means that even if you can't see a background (it's transparent), the whole image will still be this size and anywhere you put it there will be this huge amount of space around it. Let's crop out some of the background and tighten our picture around our name.

Click on the "crop" button down the left side menu.

You'll notice the lines and dots around the text disappear when you click this tool and activate it. This is because we're no longer working with 'text', but have moved on. 

Click at the top of your name and drag to the other side, bottom. Once you're done, go ahead and let go of the mouse button and a little square will appear around the text.

If your initial crop wasn't tight enough, you can alter it. Put your mouse up to the line until an up/down arrow appears.

Then click and hold and drag into where you want to adjust your crop to. Once it's where you want, double click and the crop will occur. Now your whole picture looks like this:

Let's just save it as is, which will give it a white background. (Again, you can learn how to save as transparent over here.) Click "file" and "export" and then "jpg optimizer".

Which will open this:

And just click OK. That will give you this:

Just save it on your drive where you like. I have a "My Work" and "PSP" folder where I keep things I do in PSP like this. You can rename the file whatever you like and click 'save'. And that's it. The image is now safely stored.

You can now close what you're working on. Just click the red "x" in the corner. Go ahead and say "ok" when the box pops up to ask if you really want to close. Don't worry - we saved it already.


Here's a super tip. You can set your PSP to 'autosave' your work. This helps guard against periodic crashes of your computer or freezes while you're working. If you don't have issues like that, then I don't recommend it. Saving can take time, depending on what you're working on, because it saves EVERYTHING you have open. If you have 30 pictures open, it'll stop and save them all and that can take some time. But if you have an unbalanced computer or wonky power, it can save you a lot of heartache.

Click "file", "preferences" and "autosave settings".

That opens this:

Which you can modify to your own tastes.

Need to ask a question? Have a suggestion or just get confused?

Email me.


Visit my Tutorials page for more tutorials!


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