If you’re married to Adobe’s flagship product, Photoshop, then you probably have a love hate relationship going on. Photoshop is loved by millions. When it comes to graphic design and photo enhancement, there just isn’t much that Photoshop cannot do. On the other hand, Photoshop has many detractors and a growing measure of hate for the app that can be horribly complex, and expensive, thanks to Adobe’s new rent-by-the-month plan.
What are the alternatives to Photoshop?
Actually, for Mac users, plenty, depending upon your experience, skill level, and budgetary requirements. We can argue all day the merits and weaknesses of iDraw, Acorn, GIMP, Corel, and many others, but when push comes to shove there’s only one value leader– Pixelmator.
The latest version ups the ante among affordable image editors for Mac users. First off, the price. You’ll pay more to Adobe by using Photoshop for a month or two than for Pixelmator, a steal at less than $30.
Second, familiarity. Pixelmator looks, feels, and works much like Photoshop, but without the same level of over-the-top complexity. Comprehensive tool palettes float much like Adobe’s apps. The dark charcoal interface is both inviting and professional.
The latest Pixelmator, 3.0 FX, comes with Layer Styles (all non-destructive, of course), Liquify Tools (a good way to shape images), and an updated image editing engine which takes advantage of new features in OS X 10.9 Mavericks (tags, App Nap, multiple displays).
Unlike Adobe, which prefers customers to rent Photoshop, Pixelmator’s price has actually been reduced since debuting on the Mac App Store, and updates– which Adobe once charged an arm and a leg– are free.
Don’t think of Pixelmator as Photoshop Lite. That’s what Photoshop Elements is. Pixelmator provides plenty of painting tools, retouching tools, drawing tools, and over 160 different effects which are easily combined to task your creative gene.
Apple thinks enough of Pixelmator to use it instead of Photoshop when highlighting the new Mac Pro’s speed and graphics rendering capability.
Pixelmator is a good value for the money, especially for those just getting into graphic design, or those who cannot afford Adobe’s monthly rent. Alright, that said, there are some issues. The much loved option to hide palettes with tabs is still missing, there’s no CMYK support, and Pixelmator doesn’t do text as well as Photoshop.
Still, it’s a much loved package with a price to match.