Pixelmator 1.4

So, if you’re lucky enough to have a Mac computer and like graphicy type things you may be interested to know that Pixelmator 1.4 drops down the intertubes tomorrow. I’ve bigged it up a couple of times, for good reason, and 1.4 represents another good jumping on point if you haven’t already.

Brushes seem to be the major focus for updates and indeed they’re tremendous fun to play with. Very smooth and with a number of variables to play with that open up the drawing side of the program to a lot of playful experimentation. Simply dragging an image onto the brush pallette creates a new shape to draw with and, from there, you can play with the stroke, opacity, randomisation and size. It’s great fun.

Apart from that haven’t seen that many other tool updates but have only been playing with it off and on for a week with the kind benefit of a beta tester ticket offered to me. The pro’s of the software are that it loads BLISTERINGLY fast. Opening up Photoshop next to Pixelmator is amusing, if nothing else and, for simple edits it’s now become the tool of choice. Brushes are now brilliant fun to play with and load up the software and plug in the Wacom tablet and it’s a lovely toy to sit and spend time with although, like most graphics software, the interface must be a little daunting if it’s your first time opening with an art program.

The cons? Primarily deep down stuff I think (and all IMO). No CMYK still, no pen tool, no wave filter, no animation (and some of the filters are beautiful in motion) and a number of other tools that I use regularly in Photoshop that have no representation in Pixelmator. I’m not overly keen on their variation of the type tool then again I’m not at all keen on Photoshop’s type tool either (what I’d love to see is a cartoon bubble box pop up, semi-opague, showing what you’re writing on screen and also in a new area to show obvious changes and edits. You would NOT  believe how many times I get frustrated teaching students the Photoshop type tool and saying ‘have you presses command enter to exit type edit? Surely SURELY there has got to be a better way).

That said the kaleidoscope tool in Pixelmator is wonderful and I find it frustrating that Photoshop has no similar counterpart.

Overall? I’ve been using Photoshop since v3 le and in the time it’s become a powerful, bloated, slow, amazing piece of software. Has it changed much since, say, layers were introduced?  Yes, although not ground shakingly so (although I do want to spend more time playing with the 3d features in CS$, sorry, CS4 – ahem). Pixelmator is very much the young upstart that’s coming in on the inside track and on only the fourth or fifth iteration is nail bitingly close to taking the crown of ‘go-to graphics software’. (IMO, natch. This is the internet after all, wouldn’t want to be burnt at any stakes here). 

(Which is also not to say that other similar graphics software is not good: Expression is probably my overall favourite but a different beast to Pixelmator – vector not pixels, expensive not a bargain and unwieldy not graceful for a start), Fireworks is very good, Gimp good also and I tend to use a variety of software packages, depending on the job I’m working on), but Pixelmator is impressively powerful, professionally presented and good fun to muck about with. It’s also a tenth of the cost of Photoshop and 10% off being the obvious and easy to recommend alternative. For non-pro digital photographers it’s well worth a look, the auto enhance tool before worth the price of admission alone.  If you enjoy such things I’d suggest and quick download and play about with the 30 day trial.


Pixelmator tree doodle.
Pixelmator tree doodle.