Image editing on the Macintosh has largely been dominated by iPhoto, Adobe’s Photoshop, and more recently, Photoshop Elements. About four years ago, two brothers out of London, England unleashed a new image editor called Pixelmator, what they dubbed the Mac OS X Image Editor for the Rest of Us. The company just announced that it has sold $1 million in downloads on the Mac App store, which is quite an accomplishment given the application’s super inexpensive $29 price point. Now in version 1.6.4 Nucleus, Pixelmator offers a heck of a lot of bang for your hard earned money.
Pixelmator is a very robust editor with full image import support, (from devices such as cameras, scanners, the iPhone, and other multimedia devices) camera RAW support, 64-bit architecture to take advantage of all the power your Mac has to offer; and more. I’ll take a look at the interface and then check out some of the features in this very powerful, yet super inexpensive alternative to Photoshop Elements.
Pixelmator Tool Palette
The Pixelmator Tool Palette offers a variety of tools for working on your images. These include the Rectangular marquee, move tool, Lasso, Magic Wand, Crop, Slice, Clone Stamp, Pencil, Eraser, Brush, Gradient, Paint Bucket, Blur, Sharpen, Type, eyedropper, Zoom, and Hand tool. These are very similar in look and functionality to the tools found in other image editors.
Pixelmator also gives you the tools to adjust the levels, curves and the exposure of your images as well as tweak an image’s brightness and contrast.
Gradients can be accessed via the Gradients palette. Pixelmator enables you to create your own gradients as well as use the preset gradients that are standard in the application. The Gradient tool works on the fly, meaning that you see the results as soon as you draw a gradient with the tool. Creating gradients is as simple as moving sliders around. You can create radial, linear, and angle gradients, and then save them and even share them.
The Photo Browser enables you to select any image on your hard drive and open that image in Pixelmator for editing. The Photo Browser is probably the weak link of Pixelmator, as it doesn’t offer as much in terms of features when compared to other image editors. It enables you to open images from within iPhoto or from within folders on your hard drive or the desktop. The idea here seems to be to let iPhoto remain as your image organizer.
Saving and uploading images
You can upload your images directly to Flickr, Facebook, and Picasa, as well as send them via email as well as to iPhoto. You can also save your images to a variety of image file formats, including the usual formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, Photoshop, and PDF, as well as a whole host of other formats, such as the new Webp format created by Google, Kodak Cineon, MTV Raytracing, and other more obscure formats. The file support is quite large.
There is full support for layers and layering, new selection and transform tools, and a variety of filters and effects, including Distortions, Blurs, Stylize, Halftones, Gradients, Generator, and Quartz Composer.
Pixelmator includes a variety of fully customizable brushes ranging from leafs and butterflies to bricks, artistic and painterly brushes. The brushes are fully customizable, enabling you to create your own custom brushes.
A tutorial on creating custom brushes in Pixelmator can be found here
Pixelmator 1.6.4 is an excellent and inexpensive alternative to Photoshop Elements. I am fairly new to the application, but am pleased with its power and ease of use. It is much faster, has less bloat, doesn’t offer features that are hardly ever used, provides some excellent effects, and is an absolute bargain at just $29. While Photoshop Elements beats Pixelmator in terms of features, it doesn’t beat Pixelmator on the price front, ease of use, speed, or look and feel. If you are considering Photoshop Elements, also take a look at Pixelmator. For more information, visit www.pixelmator.com