Fancy Photoshop but can’t afford the gargantuan price tag? We pride ourselves in digging out the gems that offer you the maximum for your money. Pixelmator is an exceptional example; a slick, powerful, thoroughly Mac enhanced photo and image processing program costing about £30.
Though wrapped in a state-of-the-art interface Pixelmator’s secret is its open-source core. It’s built on ImageMagick, a venerable and veteran cross-platform library of image manipulation tools – so although this is the 1.0 release, the feature set is mature and extensive. It can handle over a hundred image formats and has all the usual transform tools, drawing and effects features you’d expect from a high-end imaging package. It looks great too, with a panel based front end that fits seamlessly into Mac OS X. Dare we say it? It’s even more handsome than Photoshop, offering the same layer, colour, brush and photo browsing tools as the Adobe powerhouse, but with sleek black palettes.
Unlike Photoshop, Pixelmator’s built specifically for the Mac. You’ll find integration with your iSight camera and iLife Media Browser is included. Most usefully, there’s Core Image support, enabling Pixelmator to take advantage of OS X’s built-in library of image filters and tools.
Not every program is perfect. Pixelmator caters more for screen imaging than print, lacking the high-end CMYK support that some designers will require. At the same time, there are no quick optimisation tools for web images. Instead, the makers assume that its users will know their PNGs from their JPEGs.
Extremely small reservations aside, Pixelmator’s the ideal image processor for both professional and dabbler. Its nearest true rival, the GIMP, is a much more cluttered and cumbersome affair.