Pixelmator Software for Mac [Review]

0Comments

Whether you like it or not, most of us are constantly looking for ‘another Photoshop’, no matter whether we already have it installed or would like to have it.

Pixelmater splash screen.jpg

Many have no need for the extraordinary talents of this profound application but still have the need to fool around with our digital pictures and find the print-biased GUI a bit of a pain. Pixelmator as a pixel-based image editor may well be the one that will satisfy this craving.

On the gloomy side it demands Mac OSX version 10.5.7 and upwards in both Power PC and Intel Macs. Lesser OS’s need not apply!

On the shiny side it can handle an amazing array of file formats (100+), some of which you may not have seen for some years. Like … PICT, BMP and others even more obscure — and of course it can deal with JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD etc.

So I opened my first test image and have to admit I was a little jarred when I found its interface, whilst very attractive, had a GUI and series of menus that looked alarmingly like Photoshop’s! But, when I started pushing pixels around, I realised it was decidedly RAM-hungry, so I had to shut down other apps in play at the time and then restart Pixelmator to run it.

Pixelmator is based on Core Image technology, so if you have a high-performance card with increased video memory (VRAM), you’ll find real-time Pixelmator will kick up some dust in the speed department on the latest PowerPC and all Intel Macs.?
The toolbars are similar, although the tools are arrayed in two columns against a black background — not one. Some may be a little wary of the black desktop and I did find it a little bit of an eye-strain.

Pixelmater 1.png

The test shot of a glitzy apartment block needed squaring up for a start: no probs, with the menus in place — just like Adobe’s favourite son — and I managed to correct perspective quite easily.

Pixelmater 2.png

I headed first into the filters (there’s more than 130 of ‘em) and here is where the differences showed their pretty heads. I opened the Bump Linear filter and was surprised to find a rope attached itself from the options box to the image. This meant I could squeeze potions of the image in terms of radius (size of effect), angle and scale. Instant love!

Other Filters had an identical approach: you attach the rope and apply the filter to portions of the picture. With the Tile Filter I could select a portion of the picture and create a tiled screen using just that section. Fascinating!

Pixelmater 3.png

The Hatched Screen effect also impressed, transforming the original picture into a deeply etched effect that had instant appeal and managed to give an attractive half tone B&W effect.

Of course there are the usual painting and selection tools: as you select each tool a small option box pops on with the available choices of type of tool, brush sizes, font choice and size etc. I particularly liked the handy on screen resizing tool which helped resize an image anywhere from 0 to 3200 per cent. Terrific!

Colour management is at hand and you can select your profile: sRGB, Adobe RGB (1998), CIE RGB etc.

Pixelmater 4.png

Pixelmater 5.png

Available of course are Layers, Masks and the usual access to resizing options, all laid out in fine Photoshop style. Overall, I found working with the application an enjoyable experience: a little strange at first but, once accustomed to it, I could easily see me happy to work with Pixelmator as a faux Photoshop.

If you use a graphics tablet, Pixelmator offers support so you draw freehand with the app’s Pencil, Brush, and Clone Stamp tools or erase with the tablet’s eraser. Additionally, you can access the tablet’s pressure sensitivity to play with the Blur and Sharpen tools.?
Overall, this is a very highly developed piece of software and one worth considering if you have an adventurous bone in your body. IMHO, the best Photoshop clone I have yet encountered.

Read more from our Post Production category

Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • Pixelmator is a cracking bit of software and is great value for money.

  • Dan

    i’ve been using pixelmator for a while now and love it. sometimes you need to do basic stuff, especially for blog images and such. pixelmator works great. low overhead lets it load fast and the developers keep improving it. not nearly as costly as photoshop, which i still use when i need that level of work. otherwise, it’s pixelmator all the way.

  • Alex

    I’m looking to upgrade from Photoshop Elements 3 (yes, I’m a dinosaur). Anyone know how this compares to the latest Photoshop Elements for Mac?

  • Bob

    While Pixelmator has some good features it has a horrendous browser, menus that float on top of your image making you move them every time you want to apply the filter, and other annoyances.

  • Martin

    The website’s stated OS requirement of 10.5.7 is incorrect. I am running the latest version of the app (1.4.1) on 10.4.11 PPC without any issues. Not that I ever use it with Photoshop on the same machine.

  • I looked around a lot before I found my current workflow: Picasa, Pixelmator. I really enjoy Pixelmator a lot, and the best thing is: as it uses the graphics processor, almost all effects are applied on the fly, meaning you can see what the effect on your image is and play around without a progress bar making you wait.

    It handled this collage of the Japanese obon festival rather well on my 2GB RAM Macbook Pro:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/focx/3830392514/

    A filter I really like is the gloom filter, here applied to make a gloomy backyard even more gloomy 😉
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/focx/3764871377/

    And if you look around on the web, you’ll find coupons and sales saving you even more money.

  • some decent cool effects to be made

  • Amiga

    And, it’s currently on sale at Amazon for 15 bucks!
    It’s almost as good as Photoshop in most ways, and BETTER than Photoshop in some ways.
    Yet Photoshop is $650, and Pixelmator is $15.

    I’ve been using Pixelmator for about a week now, and I love it. While Photoshop sits in my dock hardly used, Pixelmator is used by me several times a day.

  • occ

    As far as I can tell, the only important thing I’m missing (versus Photoshop) is the pen tool and paths — add this and this will be quite a killer app.

  • Pixelmator Bugs

    Loaded with bugs. Upon first launch, I did the most basic, went to ‘about Pixelmater’ wouldn’t display. Tried 6 times, no dice. It immediately wanted to update, clicked, OK’. Went to download the latest updated, then flashed a dialog box it couldn’t load the update, then crashed. So far so good eh? Quit the program and relaunched the program. Went to open a small ping file, and refused to opened it. Tried seven times more, no dice. Finally after 12 times, it did, WTF?
    My machine is the latest, with all current updates to the OS.
    My review is not to buy. I found three bugs and have yet to use the ite,

  • jay

    Best app I’ve ever used. I have Pixelmator since few years, and all my graphics are done with it.
    For me it is much more better than photoshop, even of it has less features compared to the other bloated and chaotic adobe software, but it has what I need.

  • nicmart

    Since you deem it “RAM-hungry,” it would have helped if you had stated how much RAM you have. How is someone with 2, 4, 8, or 16 GBs of RAM supposed to know whether it will run on his device?

Some Older Comments

  • jay June 5, 2011 11:14 pm

    Best app I've ever used. I have Pixelmator since few years, and all my graphics are done with it.
    For me it is much more better than photoshop, even of it has less features compared to the other bloated and chaotic adobe software, but it has what I need.

  • Pixelmator Bugs April 16, 2011 06:48 am

    Loaded with bugs. Upon first launch, I did the most basic, went to 'about Pixelmater' wouldn't display. Tried 6 times, no dice. It immediately wanted to update, clicked, OK'. Went to download the latest updated, then flashed a dialog box it couldn't load the update, then crashed. So far so good eh? Quit the program and relaunched the program. Went to open a small ping file, and refused to opened it. Tried seven times more, no dice. Finally after 12 times, it did, WTF?
    My machine is the latest, with all current updates to the OS.
    My review is not to buy. I found three bugs and have yet to use the ite,

  • occ February 19, 2010 02:31 pm

    As far as I can tell, the only important thing I'm missing (versus Photoshop) is the pen tool and paths -- add this and this will be quite a killer app.

  • Amiga November 29, 2009 01:02 pm

    And, it's currently on sale at Amazon for 15 bucks!
    It's almost as good as Photoshop in most ways, and BETTER than Photoshop in some ways.
    Yet Photoshop is $650, and Pixelmator is $15.

    I've been using Pixelmator for about a week now, and I love it. While Photoshop sits in my dock hardly used, Pixelmator is used by me several times a day.

  • designer los August 23, 2009 05:35 am

    some decent cool effects to be made

  • Christoph August 22, 2009 01:01 am

    I looked around a lot before I found my current workflow: Picasa, Pixelmator. I really enjoy Pixelmator a lot, and the best thing is: as it uses the graphics processor, almost all effects are applied on the fly, meaning you can see what the effect on your image is and play around without a progress bar making you wait.

    It handled this collage of the Japanese obon festival rather well on my 2GB RAM Macbook Pro:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/focx/3830392514/

    A filter I really like is the gloom filter, here applied to make a gloomy backyard even more gloomy ;)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/focx/3764871377/

    And if you look around on the web, you'll find coupons and sales saving you even more money.

  • Martin August 21, 2009 06:53 pm

    The website's stated OS requirement of 10.5.7 is incorrect. I am running the latest version of the app (1.4.1) on 10.4.11 PPC without any issues. Not that I ever use it with Photoshop on the same machine.

  • Bob August 21, 2009 12:37 pm

    While Pixelmator has some good features it has a horrendous browser, menus that float on top of your image making you move them every time you want to apply the filter, and other annoyances.

  • Alex August 21, 2009 10:54 am

    I'm looking to upgrade from Photoshop Elements 3 (yes, I'm a dinosaur). Anyone know how this compares to the latest Photoshop Elements for Mac?

  • Dan August 21, 2009 09:12 am

    i've been using pixelmator for a while now and love it. sometimes you need to do basic stuff, especially for blog images and such. pixelmator works great. low overhead lets it load fast and the developers keep improving it. not nearly as costly as photoshop, which i still use when i need that level of work. otherwise, it's pixelmator all the way.

  • Keri August 21, 2009 07:47 am

    Pixelmator is a cracking bit of software and is great value for money.

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