Pixelmator 2.0 review

Pixelmator 2.0 shares many features with Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop Elements 10. There’s a full complement of photo-editing tools and adjustments, such as red-eye removal, healing brush, auto enhance, colour balance, and levels, plus the smudge, sponge, and brush (with support for graphics tablets).

The interface is clean and fluid. There are small but significant extras too: you’ll see the current angle displayed next to the cursor when you draw out a gradient; and when you choose undo/redo, a pop-up tells you what has been undone/redone. The only disappointment is that palettes don’t snap (or dock) to each other.

The Brush palette shows thumbnails of all brushes within the currently selected brush set, and you can expand it to show brush settings. Pixelmator supports Photoshop brushes, though the maximum brush size is limited to 1,000 pixels.

The application’s vector tools work differently to those in Photoshop. In Photoshop, you use vectors to create shapes that you can use as masks for fills or adjustments. Pixelmator’s vector tools let you create shapes with strokes and solid colour fills, and each shape is placed on its own layer. The only limitation is that vector objects can’t contain gradients.

Pixelmator shares many features, and even shortcuts,  with Photoshop but at a fraction of the price

Pixelmator includes several filters and the ingenious filter interface allows you to easily reposition the centre-point of a filter by dragging a rope and pointer. Other welcome features include a Photo Browser that directly taps into your iPhoto Library, direct export to email, Flickr, Picassa, and Facebook (as well as iPhoto and Aperture), and full support for OS X Lion (including Auto-Save and Versions).

Pixelmator’s major shortcoming is its somewhat rudimentary support for layers. You can use multiple layers in a document, merge layers selectively, put layers in groups, and so on, but there’s no support for Fill or Adjustment Layers, a staple of Photoshop CS (and now Elements) that allow you to make adjustments without permanently locking in those changes.

OUR VERDICT

Pixelmator provides a rare combination of ease of use, powerful features, and a low price. It doesn’t offer all the features of its more robust competitor, but at this price you wouldn’t expect it to.

Find the best price