Does this budget Photoshop alternative hit the mark?

If Adobe's big hitter is beyond your budget, Pixelmator is cheaper - but is it as good?

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Our Verdict

A great alternative to Photoshop, with a rather friendly pricetag.

For

  • £23 (Mac), £4 (iPad)
  • Over 40 tools
  • 13 colour-correction tools
  • More than 100 effects
  • Advanced brush settings and Photoshop brush support

Against

  • Apple exclusive (sorry Android and Windows users)
  • No CMYK colour space
  • No adjustment layers

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Photoshop creators Adobe must be positively blushing. Boot up Pixelmator and it looks very familiar, with a slate-grey colour scheme, and floating tool menus, palettes and effects. Drill down through the menus and you'll see familiar commands such as Transform and Stroke. Regular users of Adobe's software will feel right at home here, and it even supports Photoshop's prevalent PSD file format for those looking to jump ship.

But Pixelmator has a distinct advantage over Photoshop: it's ridiculously easy to use. The icons are chunky and bold so you can work out exactly what the Eye Dropper or the Brush will do before you've clicked it.

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There are quick fixes available for red eyes and a repair tool for rapid removals, while more complicated image additions such as vectors, reflections and gradients are easily achieved by novices.

As with Photoshop, Pixelmator also has a dinky version of its software in an iPad version. It's wisely been built from the ground up to work with the iPad, and the team has done a great job with proddable icons and pinch-to-zoom controls.

It's not as fully featured as the Mac incarnation, but the real beauty here is the seamless hand-off between the iPad and Mac apps, so you can quickly sketch something on a train and then polish it off at home.

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Pixelmator is essential software for Mac users, offering a cheap first step into the world of digital art

Admittedly, it does lack Photoshop's more professional features, such as CMYK colour space and adjustment layers – but we really wouldn't expect those on a piece of software which costs a mere £23 all-in.

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It may be Apple-only and lacking in some of the Photoshop features, but at £23 you can't go wrong

It's also strictly Apple-only, so Windows and Android users will have to stick to Adobe's creative products for now. But for Mac users it's essential software, and makes the perfect first step on a long adventure into the world of digital art for many.

The Verdict

10

out of 10

Pixelmator

A great alternative to Photoshop, with a rather friendly pricetag.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beren Neale is commissioning editor at Creative Bloq.