Now in its second version, Pixelmator debuted in 2007, but gained more notoriety with the launch of the Mac App Store in 2011. Version 2 builds on an already very solid tool set with new features like a Healing Tool with Content-Aware Fill, a new type tool, and burn and dodge capabilities.
Though it doesn’t have all of the tools and capabilities of Photoshop, it comes remarkably close, and offers a similar feel and organization. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Pixelmator, however, is its price—just $29—for a lot of power and capability. Pixelmator is Mac OS X only. Contact: Pixelmator, www.pixelmator.com.
The Info Bar displays RGB values for any pixel you hover over, or the dimensions of a selection or object. It also displays your image’s current color mode and the zoom level of the current display.
Traditional drop-down menus (which are hidden in full-screen mode unless you hover the cursor near the top of the screen) are also similar to those found in Photo shop, and include common necessities like Levels and Curves, plus niceties like the ability to quickly public directly to Facebook, Flickr and Picasa.
The tool palette is very similar to that of Photoshop, including tools to make selections, burn and dodge, crop, clone and more. Hover over a tool icon to see its name and shortcut key.
When a tool is selected, its icon enlarges, and the tool options appear here.
The new Healing Brush with Content-Aware Fill can remove blemishes or unwanted objects simply by clicking and dragging over the area. Pixelmator analyzes the surrounding pixels and intelligently replaces the blemish.
A Photo Browser gives you quick access to images stored in your iPhoto or Aperture libraries, if you use one of those apps for photo management.
The Magic Wand Tool, used to make selections, is uniquely easy to use. Start by clicking on the area you want to select, then drag to increase or decrease the selection tolerance. A color overlay lets you see which areas will be selected when you release the mouse.
The Layers palette is where you manage your layers and can control layer properties like blending mode and opacity.
Pixelmator includes over 150 filters, with a selection similar to those found in Photoshop, including frequently used filters like Unsharp Mask and Noise Reduction.
The interface is extremely clean and simple, without distractions so you can better focus on the image. Pixelmator also supports OS X Lion’s full-screen mode.