MacSTAC was founded on April 1, 1978 as an Apple II MUG. We are a community group with members from all walks of life, careers and levels of ability. We welcome all Mac users to improve their knowledge and, in turn, share their Mac knowledge with others.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: Pixelmator - Is it a $59 Photoshop? In many ways it is

Pixelmator is a relatively new image editor that delivers many of the core features of Photoshop in an easy to use application that is a virtual steal at $59. It also includes some thoughtful touches that even the mighty Photoshop doesn't offer. It's an impressive application that both beginners and professionals can use and enjoy.

If you've ever touched Photoshop, you'll be right at home in Pixelmator. In fact, the general layout of the menus and options are nearly identical and better yet, many Photoshop keyboard commands are here too. Choosing tools, swapping colors, generating fills, changing blend modes all use the same keyboard shortcuts. Most of your basic Photoshop tools are present on the toolbar as well, along with the familiar foreground/background color swatches & the quick mask mode. In the layers pallette you have blend modes, layer masks, linking & individual opacity controls. Pixelmator also comes with a nice selection of image filters ranging from basic blurs and distortions to some very nice special effects. There are custom brushes too, although unlike Photoshop you can't save them once they're created. There are also Photoshop-like tools for photographers including levels, color curves, exposure, color balance and many more There are even user defined guides and grids, and when you're finished it also exports to a wide variety of formats including PSD, TIFF, Targa, SGI, GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF and many more.

So what's missing? When compared with Photoshop, quite a bit honestly. Most noticeable to me was the lack of layer styles, a channels palette (alpha is generated on save or export automagically), paths, recordable actions and custom shapes. There also also no vector tools, or customized workspaces. Color management is very simple and there isn't an equivalent for ImageReady or Adobe Bridge. Still, It's hard if not impossible to blame Pixelmator for these omissions however. Nobody should expect a $59 program to replicate all the functionality of a $1000 piece of software.


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