Photoshop Alternative: Corel PHOTO-PAINT

Artist, Illustrator and CorelDRAW Master Stefan Lindblad recently shared his thoughts on Corel PHOTO-PAINT as an alternative to Photoshop. Find out what he had to say in this blog post, originally shared on his blog: 

With Adobe moving 100% to cloud based software, more and more users are looking for Adobe Photoshop alternatives. The alternative I already use and have used since 1997 is Corel PHOTO-PAINT (also spelled Photopaint by some, and in the CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT community, many times simply called PP) from leading software maker Corel, which also develops Corel PAINTER and PaintShop Pro.

PHOTO-PAINT used to be a standalone program for photographers and illustrators, just like Photoshop is. But nowadays, it’s an integrated part of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.

Some tools, features and naming differ from Adobe Photoshop. And this of course is expected. Considering PHOTO-PAINT has been around for quite some time, and was once considered the leading photo-editing software, it has some words and phrases of its own. For example, Layers is called Objects. And Levels is called Contrast Enhancement. But Tone Curve of course is called Tone Curve.

CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT have always offered way more file format extensions than Photoshop. So you can still save as PSD file format if you prefer, and open and edit your Adobe Photoshop files in PHOTO-PAINT. Feature specific tools in Photoshop, such as Layer styles, is not available in PHOTO-PAINT. Personally when I have worked with Photoshop, I haven’t ever used Layer Styles. It simply isn’t my style of work so I have personally never had any interest in that. Therefore I cannot tell you if it works to edit layer Styles from Adobe Photoshop in Corel PHOTO-PAINT. But generally there is no problem to open PSD files in PHOTO-PAINT. The file format extension PHOTO-PAINT is called CPT.

With PHOTO-PAINT, you can easily open older CPT files, no problem. There is no particular problem with backward compatibility. In newer versions of PHOTO-PAINT, there is Grouped Objects (Grouped Layers) in the Objects Docker (Layer Palette). This means if you open an older PHOTO-PAINT version where Grouped Object wasn’t available as a feature, the grouped objects simply become objects outside a group. In other words, no biggie!

Corel PHOTO-PAINT has Rotating Guidelines (angled guidelines). I’m not sure if that has been added to new versions of Photoshop, but regardless, rotating/angled guidelines is great when you need to have guidelines you can angle/rotate 360 degrees.

Alignment Guides Docker (Palette) and Guidelines Docker (palette) is something to look closer at if you use guides in your workflow, like me.

Guidelines are also very easily placed in an image file in PP without using the respective Dockers (palettes). You simply activate the RULERS via the menu bar. Menu>View>Ruler or shortcut Ctrl+Shift+R.

Non-destructable editing?

LENS Objects in the Objects Docker is where you find many of the non-destructable image editing features. Together with Merge Mode (Blending Modes), also in the Objects Docker. (Layer Palette).

You can of course work with Channels as non-destructable image editing in PHOTO-PAINT, the alternative to Photoshop. Simply open the Channels Docker and work with it, similar to how you work in Photoshop. Often these editing tools and features are demonstrated in magazines and blogs on the net, using Photoshop by adding Levels to Channels and objects, and of course you can do this in Corel PHOTO-PAINT as well. Just remember that Levels is called CONTRAST ENHANCEMENTS in PHOTO-PAINT. If you use Blending modes + Screen on adding fire effects to photos, and using Clipping mask – go ahead, use Merge Modes (blending modes) + Screen. And clipping mask is simply called Clip Mask in Corel PHOTO-PAINT.

PHOTO-PAINT has a RAW Lab dialog of course. Personally though, I usually use Corel AfterShot Pro to make my first RAW image editing. Save and open the RAW images afterwards in Corel PHOTO-PAINT for further image work. In other words, the RAW combo workflow of Corel Aftershot PRO + Corel PHOTO-PAINT would be the equivalent workflow combination of Adobe Photoshop + Lightroom.

Both CorelDRAW and Corel PHOTO-PAINT (CorelDRAW Graphics Suite) have the most professional and 100% ICC compliance color management. If color management is something highly important for you, you have come to the right place.

Download a FREE 30-day trial, form Corel here.

Corel also earlier announced a great deal for Adobe CS users with special offers pricewise for those who want to switch or buy software from Corel. Read the official press release.

Sometimes people around the web on various forums misunderstand and believe Corel PaintShop Pro (PSP) to be the same as Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Which of course is not the same. Just the very fact that PaintShop Pro doesn’t handle CMYK color, which of course Corel PHOTO-PAINT does.

Allow me to add a Tutorial I made using Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Showing something both Adobe Photoshop and Corel PHOTO-PAINT illustrators do many times – scanning and coloring techniques. This one shows how you do it using Corel PHOTO-PAINT. Enjoy!

Check out Stefan’s work at and follow his blog at

About Stefan Lindblad

I have drawn and painted since I got my first crayons and sketchpad. When I was 13 years old, I decided to be an artist, while learning how to juggle with oranges. I had my first exhibition at a gallery in Old Town in Stockholm, Sweden when I was 21. And my first paid illustration assignment a year or two before that. During this time I have made 5-6 stage sets, scenographys, and several art exhibitions and illustration assignments. And today it’ my work—working as an artist and illustrator.
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21 Responses to Photoshop Alternative: Corel PHOTO-PAINT

  1. iwanyells says:

    thank’s bro , FINALY

  2. iwanyells, glad you liked it, enjoy!

  3. photoman72 says:

    I’m afraid that I cannot agree that Photo-Paint is a replacement for Photoshop. I like a bunch of others are trying desperately to jump ship away from Adobe however two of the products that Adobe still has me in their grip.

    One of them is Photoshop. Unlike the author of this article, I do use layer styles constantly! I have found also that working with too many lenses tends to bring my system to a crawl!

    There is no filters native to PP that correct for various lens distortions nor do they have a way to correct any chromatic aboration (Most likely didn’t spell that correctly) that I know of. You will have to either find plugins that PP can work with or get an external editor to do that and then bring in the photo.

    Since I have to take my photos into another program, why even use PP? The only reason I can figure is if your are working on a design in CorelDRAW and the bitmap needs some correcting. Then PP would be the right answer since the workflow from DRAW and PP is very fluid.

    The other issue is that the amount of ENGLISH speaking tutorials that are available for PP are far and in between! Especially dealing with photo correction/restoration.

    This is just my .02 and NO I’m NOT an Adobe Employee. Just a user of both software giving my personal opinion only!

    • Just a quick respons on plugins. Some plugins work with Photo-Paint as well as Photoshop, but the creators of the plugins for some reason forget to mention it.
      Observe that Plugins working with a 32 bit version of any sort of graphics program, works with 32 bit. If you have a 64 bit version of a program, you have to make sure the plugins are written to work with 64 bit.

      Either way, here are just a few from top of my head:
      2) AlienSkin plugins – (People at Alienskin have been saying it doesnt work with PP, but it actually does and have done for quite some time now. I have no clue why the people at alienskin doesnt know this.) For example
      I also recomend to read this post by Unleashed productions on the topic of Plugins. Read the pragraph about alienskin.


      Below some I found after a quick search on Google

      Again, top of my head, writing very fast (dinner is soon finished)
      6) PhotoZoom Pro 2: view under File>File Format Plugins>Export>PhotoZoom Pro 2
      7) Filter under Effects>Camera>Time Machine (Premium now under X6, will be added with X7)
      8) Effects>Camera>Sepia Toning (Premium now under X6, will be added with X7)
      9) Effects>Camera>Colorize (Premium now under X6, will be added with X7)

      Now time for dinner and later a cup of tea.
      Hope this helped a bit.

      • photoman72 says:

        Thanks for the reply however I feel you did not read the post correctly. I stated that I had a different working style than you. You did not use layer styles where I used them extensively. I think the misunderstanding about the plugin issue is basically I was saying that Photoshop has plugins to handle all sorts of lens distortions where as PP did not.

        I know that some plugins will work with PP. I got the Nik Collection by Google to work. That is not what I was saying at all. I haven’t tried to get my Alien Skin Eye Candy to work in there yet because I’m having issues with PP in other areas. I will get it set up one day.

        I love the interaction that blogs and other media gives each other but I do ask is please read what someone posts.

        I hope that there is no hard feelings here. I just wanted to see if maybe what I’d written might have been misunderstood….

      • Photoman72,
        My wrong. I did read your entire reply, but dinner was on the stowe and read a biiiiit to fast. 😉

      • Photoman72,
        I am sure we have a different working style, that is totally normal. That is wy I also said I dont personally use Layer Styles. That said I didnt state they were unimportant as tools/featrues, just stating I dont use them and hence dont talk about them specifically.

        But thing is there are so many thing you can do and can not do in each program. To me though it is a alternative. For you it isnt. Fare enough. No worries on my part about that.

      • Photoman72,

        It is true there are not so many tutorials in english specifically for Photo-Paint, but me being a swede in Sweden try to do my part. For Corel and for my own. And others too. More will come though. I would suggest looking closer to the official CorelDRAW channel on youtube and the discovery center on

        I have currenlty held three webinars for Corel where Photo-PAint is mentioned quite a bit, and a new one is coming this december if my memory aint failing me.

        Please suggest topics for Photo-Paint you would like to see talked about in tutorials and possible webinars/youtube videos.

      • Me again 😉
        Just so you know I do read your text. I do know you wrote “…photo correction/restoration”. What I mean with suggesting topics you would like to see more of, is that even in this photo correction/restoration, there are variations on the theme. But of course will have this in mind. When I do something in english next time. In december though, it will be all about Photo-Paint, but not specifically on photo correction/restoration.

  4. William Boswell says:

    I’m glad to hear that Corel Photo-Paint will read PSD (Photoshop) files. In the drop-down list (Version X6), Photoshop isn’t listed at all so I assumed it would not open PSD files. I tried it in Photo-Paint and it does. When saving to a PSD format, Photoshop is listed in the drop-down list.

    I just recently took advantage of the sidegrade special from Adobe Photoshop CS6 to CorelDRAW Suite X6 because I have no intentions of going back to Adobe products again. I used to be a CorelDRAW user going back to Version 3 thru 10, but switched over to Adobe because of college courses that required it. Now I’m ready to go back because I’ve always found Photo-Paint far more superior than Photoshop. At least I can scan directly into it while Adobe dropped that option starting with Photoshop CS4.

  5. azpc says:

    Paintshop Pro x6 looks nice, however no sale because no Mac version.

  6. email2sts says:

    As a would-be Adobe ship jumper, I was quite excited until I checked the tech specs. Oh-oh: no native Mac version. That is the same problem as with PaintShop Pro Ultimate. Corel does have a couple of outstanding native Mac programs that I am happy that I purchased: AfterShot Pro and Painter (whatever the latest version is called). Corel will have more of Adobe’s lunch transferred to their platter when they give us OS X (UNIX with a user friendly visual shell) folks what we want: native Mac versions. Please…

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  8. azpc says:

    Still no mac version so I still remain with Adobe.

  9. claudio says:

    I’ve used both Photoshop and PhotoPaint, and I don’t believe PhotoPaint is a replacement for Photoshop: Corel PhotoPaint is simply better!
    Except for two things that I hope will find a way in the next version:
    1) Content aware spot healing brush;
    2) IPTC (missing this one in 2013 is frankly ridiculous).

    • William Boswell says:

      I second Content Aware Spot Healing brush. I use that a lot. I also forgot to mention that I use Layer Styles frequently myself and wish they would add that to Photo-Paint.

  10. Jack Julius says:

    Well I like the article! I have used photoshop for a few things because the company I was designing a photo book for only used photoshop….that said, I have been using Photopaint since version 3 and I LOVE it! But I feel Corel put it on the back burner…and when I call to ask about it I was told that Paint Shop Pro is the replacement for Photographers…I also have trouble opening raw files in x6..they look light…do you have any ideas why?…and will new things be added and will this program get back on it’s feet? Also, years ago I think version 9 lots of plug ins were created fro it… but since then it seems not many out there…though I keep trying to add some… I miss really good books and the corel mags with the “tricks” and ideas for designing…
    Anyway, I hope to be re inspired…

    • Michaela Schreiter says:

      Hi Jack,

      Glad you enjoyed the article. We have another blog post about PSP and PHOTO-PAINT. You can check it out here:

      In regards to your trouble opening RAW files, if you could post a message on with some more detail, someone from our CorelDRAW community might be able to provide a solution.

      Hope this helps,

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  12. sj adsett says:

    wow there are so manybitmap/pixle/raster programmes out there.
    I have trailed a few and am now an illustrator. I used to be an architect and used, Archicad18, AutoCAD, Vectorworks and Corel CAD.
    For what it’s worth here is my take on Illustration software that I have trailed/bought;
    Photoshop (, the giant, the plugins, the learning curve, the expense! The logo! The go to software for pros. Its now a verb! But is it worth the cost? Does anyone use all of Ps? Can any one show me what Ps can do that Photo Paint cant do?
    Now Ps hides in this mystical cloud and you rent it. Many people don’t trust or like this concept and want their own bought software in their hot little hands, to upgrade and use it to what they need. Call me pedantic but in Ps the zoom/pan is an ugly herpes wart left over from the bad old apple vs IBM days – “we want our mice to have one click and be a piece of art and our software only on elite see through Macs not for PC peasants (IBMback then).” To use your mouse wheel for zoom in Ps, you have to hit ctrl (its is my style to zoom in and out a lot, and being taught the under hand technique of using chalk is similar to the way I hold my light laser mouse – so I don’t need a tablet or a 22″ screen).
    If you are thinking of swapping to a hands on programme that you own, I think corel graphics suite PhotoPaint is well worth having a look, it comes with the vector graphics CorelDraw that works alongside Bitmap PhotoPaint, Capture, Connect, Font navigator, Duplexing wizard. Everything that you need( even video tutorials), it comes house trained so you don’t need to buy plugins like Light box, Sand box…. (Photo Paint provides you with a Ps interface, to help getting you started!) confident move corel!
    I have also trialed;
    Sketchbook Pro, great interface, bad brushes, good tracing lines and French curves(That I copied and made into nib for PP
    Artrage, perfect name, you will be in a rage in no time, file compatibility – 0
    paint.NET aka windows paint
    Xara, corel vector and PP, rolled into one, might be perfect for some but frustrating for others.
    Corel Painter essentials, good blending, horrible interface.
    Gimp, give this knockoff to Bruce Willis to cut in half with a sword.
    Artweaver, simple, free, similar to Sketch bookpro. It has a perspective grid( that I will now make in Corel draw.
    Paint Shop pro. why corel? Blend its features into PP
    No software is perfect, if corel PhotoPaint could; make toolboxes like sketchbookpro, put in a perspective grid, French curves template, constraint straight line toggle like paint, a polyline tool like corelCAD, it would drive Ps out of the cloud and into the stratosphere. Please Corel don’t go to the cloud or subscriptions.
    So That is my experience, I always go back to Corel and ask Ps devotees, if it is so good, why could you only get it on Mac but suddenly you can now get it on PCs’?

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