Complete Guide to Using PaintShop Pro Tubes in Photoshop

I have often experienced the frustration of finding an amazing graphic with very few restrictions on use, only to find that it is a PaintShopPro “tube” – not Photoshop compatible. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Photoshop snob, and while my computer came pre-installed with PaintShop, I’ve never opened the program… and unless some future happening absolutely forces me to, I don’t plan on doing so.

With that in mind, I had written off PaintShop tubes as a complete waste of my time. After all, Photoshop can’t open them, so why bother with looking at the often too-cool tubes in the first place?

Imagine my delight when I stumbled across a nifty little tool that lets you convert PaintShop tubes to Photoshop files. No more frustration about compatibility – it can all be done right from Photoshop!

This guide will lead you through the installation and use of Telegraphics’ “Paint Shop Pro Format” plug-in for Photoshop. What will you need? Just a couple of things: the plug-in, Photoshop, and some PaintShop tubes – and I’ll even show you some of the best spots to grab those, so read on.

Please note that a fully illustrated version of this tutorial is included with this article. In order to keep the image file size down, though, you’ll still want to reference this article because it includes much more detail and links than the image version.

One – Gather Tools: Obviously, you’ll need Adobe Photoshop installed to perform this tutorial – any full version of Photoshop should work. Beyond that, you’ll need two more things – the plug-in, and PaintShop tubes.

The plug-in, Telegraphics’ “Paint Shop Pro Format”, is available as donation ware. What this means is that you are free to download the plug-in at no cost, but if you enjoy and use the plug-in, you should really consider sending Telegraphics a donation (their suggested donation is a mere $5) so that they can continue developing great programs. Grab your copy of the plug-in here: http://www.telegraphics.com.au/sw/#pspformat

The second thing you’ll need are some tubes. Now, I will admit, PaintShop Pro tubes are a nifty little thing. They are like a combination of a Photoshop brush and a Photoshop .psd file. It really doesn’t matter what they are, though, because until recently they couldn’t be accessed by Photoshop at all. What’s important to know is that tubes present you a complete graphic that can be edited easily.

Where to grab PaintShop tubes? There are likely as many websites dedicated to providing free PaintShop tubes as there are sites dedicated to providing free Photoshop tutorials – the trick is finding one that allows you to use the tubes without so many restrictions you feel like you’re caught in a trap. Try running a search on Google for “free psp tubes”, or hit one of the following websites. These are just quality websites offering free tubes, and I’ve listed them in no particular order, so make sure you read their terms of use before you download anything.

PSP Tubes Garden – http://home.hccnet.nl/h.a.a.m.beumer/tubes.html – A variety of very nicely done tubes, available for free download.

Raggedy Ann & Andy – http://always-unique.net/index367.html – Raggedy Ann & Andy PSP tubes ready for download.

Adorable Koshini & Friends – http://www.koshini.com/ – Absolutely stunning 3d tubes for download. Be forewarned, though – most of this website is in French.

Anita Lee – http://www.psptubes.anita-lee.net/freepsptubes2.html – Another set of 3d tubes, but this site is fully in English.

Two – Install Tools: The PSP Format plug-in, and most tubes for that matter, that you download will come in a “Zip” format. To access what’s inside, you have to first “unzip” the files. If you are on Windows XP, you can just double-click the zipped file
and it will open what’s inside. Even better, though, is to grab a free copy of WinRAR that will open a huge variety of compressed (zipped) files and makes life easy. With WinRAR, right-click the zipped file and choose “Extract Here”.

When the file has been “unzipped”, you will see 3 new icons: an html file named “gpl”, a Photoshop plug-in file named “PSPFormat”, and a text readme. It is important that you view the readme, since this file tells you what ways it is legal to use the plug-in. The html file will tell you more about the Gnu Public License, which the plug-in is released under.

Once you’ve finished reading, you’re ready to install the Photoshop plug-in. This is really easy – just follow these steps:

1. Click “Start”, and choose “My Computer”.
2. Double-click your hard drive (usually “C”) and open the folder named “Program Files”.
3. Inside the Program Files folder, open the “Adobe” folder, and then open the “Photoshop” folder.
4. Last folder to open – double click the “Plug-Ins” folder.
5. Now, just drag and drop or cut and paste the PSPFormat Plug-In into this folder. Installed!

Three – Use the Tools: As long as you had Photoshop closed when you installed the plug-in, you’re set to go. If you had Photoshop open, though, make life easy – close Photoshop and reopen it so that everything’s loaded for you.

From here on, everything’s way too simple! Make sure that you have un-zipped the PSP Tube that you downloaded (if you needed to). Then, in Photoshop, click “File” and choose “Open”. Browse to where you saved the PSP tube and double-click it. Photoshop will open the tube with a transparent background. You can now save it as a Photoshop file or use it in one of your designs right away!

Isn’t technology grand?

Please Note: The only drawback about this plug-in is that it can’t deal with PaintShop layers. If your tube originally came with layers (some tube makers include them, others don’t), you’ll be asked which layer you want to save. To save everything, just right-click in your Layers Palette and choose “Merge Visible” before saving.

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