Designed as an image editing software for beginners or hobbyists, Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 actually packs quite the technological punch when it comes to editing photos. As well as basic tools such as exposure, contrast, color, and tonal editing tools you’d expect with this kind of software, it also expands into graphic design work by operating fluidly with raster images and providing templates.
The 2022 version of Paintshop Pro is packed with new features, some of which are powered by machine learning AI. The Frame tool allows quick masking of raster images to fit in specific shapes, great for graphic design work. AI Background Replacement intelligently scans photos to cut out subjects automatically, allowing replacement backgrounds to be added with no manual cuts. The AI Portrait mode works in a similar way by placing a bokeh blur effect on portraits to make it look like images were shot with a shallow depth of field. The new AI Style Transfer takes the style from a piece of art and effects photos to mimic this look.
Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 can’t quite compete with the big names of Phase One Capture One Pro 2021 and Adobe Photoshop when it comes to compatibility, synchronization, and professional-grade editing tools, but nor does it pretend to. Paintshop Pro 2022 performs well at the basics and lifts itself up from other comparable software by introducing user-friendly Artificial Intelligence features to give photos a boost with the click of a button.
The software is let down a little by its performance, even on faster laptops and desktop computers. It’s sluggish to open and struggles to work with files when compared to other image editing software, which feels precarious to established editors who are used to working at a fast pace. However, the speed is something beginners, or those new to image editing, could get used to and doesn’t make much difference on a casual usage basis. But for this reason, the software doesn't rank highly in our round-up of the best photo editing apps.
For those needing a little bit more, the Paintshop Pro store offers downloads (both free and paid-for) that encompass plug-ins, applications, scripts, brushes, and more to help expand content creation and keep work fresh.
Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 review: Features
- Three helpful workspaces
- Pro and Ultimate versions
- Raw, HDR, and 360 camera support
Paintshop Pro 2022 splits the editing software into three distinct workspaces: Photography, Essentials, and Complete. The Photography workspace (which it’s set to by default) focuses on a full-screen, touch-compatible environment and includes some basic editing features such as AI denoise, Tonal, and Color HSL controls. There are only a few editing options available and buttons are visibly large, but this is obviously to take into account those working on touchscreen-compatible devices that use either fingers or styluses.
The Essentials workspace gives a visually stripped-back view of the software that is perfect for beginners. It still contains all the common and basic tools you’ll need to get started but doesn’t bloat the interface with complicated boxes and features, instead allowing access via a drop-down menu in the toolbar. Those needing to progress or happy to work in a slightly more professionally laid-out environment should opt for the Complete workspace where much more is on show.
The software comes with a good list of standard photo editing tools such as Brightness and Contrast, Fill Light and Clarity, Fade Correction, Hue and Saturation, Vibrancy, White Balance, Noise Removal, Sharpening, Color Balancing, Tonal Levels and Curves. It also supports raw file formats, can combine several bracketed images to produce High Dynamic Range photos, and supports editing of 360-degree images including the removal of tripods, leveling horizons, and editing shots into a round, planet-like effect. Other smart selection tools such as Selection, Freehand Selection, Magic Wand, and Refine Brush make selecting shapes and subjects in photographs a cinch.
With Corel Paintshop Pro 2022, you can either make a new project from scratch, use one of the many pre-designed templates to build upon, or simply open an existing project to get started. Templates are helpful for users who need to create designs for flyers or online content, as they provide a launchpad of graphics from which to create bespoke work for publication.
Unfortunately, Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 only works with Windows 10, recommended version 1903 or later with the latest service pack (64-bit editions). However, it is possible to run it on Windows-powered portable devices such as Microsoft Surface tablets as the application can be downloaded via the Microsoft Store.
Paintshop Pro 2022 is compatible with a wide range of image file formats, crucially JPEG, PNG, and TIFF, but it can also import raw files from over 800 different camera models and even opens Adobe Photoshop documents and PDFs. Brushes from Photoshop are also usable in Paintshop Pro 2022, as well as Jasc brushes and Paintshop’s own PSP brushes, too.
Additional file support now means HEIF and HIF iPhone photos work in Paintshop Pro 2022, and there’s also a more inclusive welcome screen experience and access to a wealth of new creative content built into the software.
Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 review: Compatibility and plugins
Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 runs only on Windows 10 (recommended version 1903 or later with the latest service pack for 64-bit editions) and requires an internet connection to access tutorials and download extra content via the store.
Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 review: Price and subscriptions
Corel Paintshop Pro 2022 is $79.99 or $99.99 for the Ultimate edition, which includes many more application features such as Painter Essentials 8 and the Sea-to-Sky workspace, as well as the option to use Multicam Capture Lite to create videos and screen recordings, to name but three. Once you buy it, you own it, but future upgrades do come at a cost.
Should you buy Corel Paintshop Pro 2022?
For those just starting out in image editing, who want a flat one-off fee with access to multiple workspaces that grow in complexity alongside their skill level, you can’t go wrong with Corel Paintshop Pro 2022. The fact that you have to pay for upgrades is nothing new, but that plus its limitations in terms of batch synchronization and clunky organization of files does mean other software at a similar price-point is more attractive. Nonetheless, it does a good job of editing photos with precision and flexibility.