I’ve owned Photoshop for years. It is a great Mac application. It’s also a beast. With each new Photoshop upgrade from Adobe I fall farther behind in my knowledge and ability to use Photoshop because I don’t use it every day. Along comes Pixelmator, an attractive, easy-to-use Photoshop-like image editor, and I feel like I know how to create beautiful images, without the guilt.
What I love about Photoshop is that it can do nearly anything. What I hate about Photoshop is that it’s no longer a friendly Mac application. What I love about Pixelmator is how friendly it is to create or enhance images.
Pixelmator, the beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images.
Pixelmator is one of a new generation of Mac image editors. Fast, friendly, focused. Not bloated, overloaded, confusing.
Getting started is easy, not complicated. Preferences are straightforward, in true Apple software style, not burdensome, though you’re dealing with an application that thrives in making complex images simple to create (click on an image for a pop-up, close up view).
It’s a good sign when the first Preference is whether or not to show the Welcome splash screen. Yes, there’s more. But not much more. The most complicated Preference has to do with default units, guide colors, and grid set up.
Unintimidating is the beginning. What about the rest of Pixelmator?
Pixelmator is at once different and familiar. There’s tools palettes floating here and there. I don’t like that. I’m tired of palettes showing up all over the screen. They get lost.
But that’s a minor issue. Pixelmator is also different, thanks to a simple, elegant layout of both tools and palettes.
Someone who is editing images must be able to select the right shapes, portions or objects in images. With Pixelmator’s powerful, pixel-accurate collection of selection tools you can quickly and easily select any part of your images. That means you can edit and apply special effects to portions of your pictures, remove unwanted objects or even cut out objects from one picture to put on another.
I’m partial to layers and effects and filters, and not so much on painting tools. Painting and drawing requires talent. Even without talent, Pixelmator gives me tools I can use.
The real greatness of these tools is the ability to use different brush sizes, shapes, hardness, even blending modes when painting. You can paint with Pixelmator as you would traditionally, play with beautiful gradients or even fill colors with other ones. There has never been a more satisfying way to paint.
I’ll vouch for that. But wait! There’s more.
What is interesting about Pixelmator’s layout is that the tools you need are not far away, despite the plethora of palettes. I learned to scrunch my palettes up close to the image.
Regardless, I look for tools that fit what I want to do. For example, I tend to do a lot of photos, especially older photos from my family. There’s always a need to doctor something up and make it look better than the original.
It is a snap to perfect your aging or buggy photos with Pixelmator. With its advanced retouching tools you can easily blur hard edges or sharpen fuzzy areas of your image. Or paint with a sample of an image to remove wrinkles from faces or scratches in your photos.
I know I’ve spent far more money on Photoshop books and classes than I did on Pixelmator, yet, in a few months, I’m better at images on Pixelmator than I ever was on Photoshop.
Notice the difference between Photoshop and Pixelmator? Notice the similarities? Palettes and tools. One is less complex than the other. One costs about 1/10th of the other.
One of the coolest aspects of manipulating images and creating complex designs on a Mac is the use of layers within image editing applications. There’s nothing better than mixing and matching layers and making every element non-destructive.
You can quickly create layers from your photos, other pictures, from selections… Pixelmator can add a layer to your composition directly from your Mac’s little camera. Not only can you link and arrange added layers, but Pixelmator allows you to blend layers, change their opacity, create clipping masks or even add layer masks to hide some portions of layer.
I tend to be a slow footed designer, but decent at manipulating photographs, which is my primary purpose is using an image editor.
Filters & Effects
Yes, there’s plenty more to learn. Filters and effects, for example, can be more complicated than merely complex, because each layer becomes part of a more complex image.
Pixelmator is the real filter-machine. It has over 130 filters and special effects for your needs. Just choose any of nicely designed distortion, blur sharpen, color, stylize, halftone, tile generator, transition and Quartz Composer filters and boom—you see the result in real-time.
There are also plenty of color correction tools in Pixelmator, and I admit I’m just beginning to figure out how they work. Color balance I have a handle on, but the new Curves tool for tonal adjustments, and the Channel Mixer will require work.
The Rulers tool is new, which helps position elements and images. Units include centimeters, millimeters, points, pixels, picas and percent to measure from a specific point.
Of course, no decent Mac image editor is worth a nickel if it isn’t fully compatible with the mainstay file formats. Pixelmator does over 100 file formats, including Photoshop.
I have a long way to go before I become a Pixelmator whiz kid, if ever. But I’m closer to doing a good job on my photos than I ever was with Photoshop.