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?

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

Why you can trust Creative Bloq Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

pixelmator

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Photoshop creators Adobe must be positively blushing. Boot up Pixelmator (opens in new tab) 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.

Discover more top alternatives to Photoshop (opens in new tab)

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.

pixelmator

Pixelmator has a very familiar slate-grey colour scheme, but boasts a much lower price tag than Photoshop

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.

pixelmator 2

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.

pixelmator 3

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.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Verdict
10

out of 10

Pixelmator

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

Beren Neale
Deals Editor

Beren has worked on creative tech magazines and websites at Future Publishing for 13 years. He started this journey as Staff Writer on the digital art magazine ImagineFX, and in 2012 found himself bridging the magazine/website divide as Commissioning Editor on the newly launched Creative Bloq. Since then he took the editor role on ImagineFX, was Launch Editor of the fine art magazine Paint & Draw, moved to Canon Pro Europe website as Deputy Editor, and then edited the graphic design magazine Computer Arts. In 2020 he moved back to Creative Bloq, the biggest global art and design website, and as Deals Editor has applied his expertise in creative tech to help digital creatives get the best deals on the kit that they need and love. Outside of work, Beren is an avid rock climber and music nut.