It’s not often that I am so-thoroughly blown away by the power of an app’s tools – and the almost-exhausting array of those tools – that I put everything down and make a BEELINE for my handy dandy WordPress app, in order to share my observations and screenshots with y’all, like, on the DOUBLE.
PixelMator did have that effect on me, however, so here we go!
First and foremost, as one might guess from the title, PixelMator is an image-editing software.
It has all the usual suspects of “digital retouching,” in other words.
It’s also strong in arranging and layout (much like PicJointer and others of that ilk).
It ALSO has one of the BEST brush kits I’ve EVER seen in an app.
In fact, it’s neck-and-neck with SKETCHES 2, LINE ART, and ___ for “most-fulfilling drawing-with-calligraphy-like-brushes-experience,” which is, for me, a HUGE deal. The old Zen Brush app (for iOs 5, methinks) was almost at that level (with almost 1/100th of the selection, but all of the fun), once upon a time (sigh).
It sets text as well as Phonto. And it ALSO–
Wait, let’s start at the very beginning, a VERY good place to start…!
Choose between a blank page, import, or take a photo.
You also have the option to make collages, posters, motivational blurbettes, or LOTS of other things, actually.
(That’s, like, fifteen options before you even get a look at the TOOLS you get to USE to CREATE and/or EDIT those options, and that’s what I LOVE about PixelMator–whose title is only that way on one page, it would seem (but I’m too much of a bum to go back and fix them all right now)–namely, that it has SO MANY options, but it’s NOT buggy or glitchy or slow. Maybe that’s coz I don’t have many saved projects in this app (right now).
Speaking of which, one of the most irksome things about PM is the saving-projects thing (you can’t save the project and move on to another version of it, it’ll actually REPLACE the saved image unless you create a duplicate, which is another unwieldy process, but whatever).
Before I knew about that feature, I ended up making several versions of one image…which are lost in cyberspace, never to be found. Like the forever-bisected pair of argyle socks I’m wearing (or half-wearing) under my AWESOME Propet boots. Hmph.)
Even with that learning-curve-mistakeness, however, I still ADORE this app! That said, here are some similar caveats for all y’all potential emptors out there:
A few snippets of advice for first-time Pixelmators
- Trying to turn your Pencil on its side to shade like a real–sorry, a GRAPHITE–pencil works, but the output depends on more than just “what brush you’ve chosen” and “how quickly/pressurely you’re sketching,”though I’m not sure what that other factor is just yet. All I *do* know is that I’ve gotten way different results doing the same thing, and vice versa.
- “Smudge” isn’t the same as it is in some other apps, it actually blurs the image using the chosen brush (yay, SMUDGE BRUSHES!), whereas some other apps use “smudge” as part of their Arsenal of Liquefication. But who cares, you know? A rose by any other name, and all that.
- Some brushes WORK better with fingers than styli/Pencils, but it’s obviously harder to CONTROL one’s literal “hand-writing” or drawing than it is to control a Pencil or other non-flesh appendage.
- Erasing is a pain, coz it takes away the “white paper,” making the new background transparent (?). More testing is needed in this area, obviously, but fear not, for I shall post my findings post-haste.
Things that ROCK
- Undo up to 20 or more levels
- Just as responsive to finger-painting as it is to Apple Pencil
- THE BRUSHES.
- The BRUSHES.
- THE BRUSSSSHHHHHESSSSSSSS!
(BTW, I’m not just going on, I actually DO have an obsession with different brushes and writing instruments IRL; my collection includes hundreds of fountain pens (in glass, metal, quill, wood, clay, brush, etc.), THOUSANDS of pencils and other solid-state sketchers, inks, stamps, paints, pens, and, yes, BRUSHES. Oh my FLAMES, I just got the FAB IDEA of 3D PRINTING MY OWN BRUSHES and PENS on ZEUS! ARRRGH! I’m seriously about to lose it, y’all!) Oh, oops, back to PM! Heh…
Anyway, the delectable and HUGE set of brushes can be used to PAINT, of course, but there’s a row of SMUDGING brushes, which, as previously mentioned, will actually blur and even displace your image; this is better for grunging up than covering up stuff, btw, aka “don’t use those brushes for traditional retouching, or else your model’s gonna have a contract put out on you, friend,” so there we are.
The LIGHTING and FILTER options are great for quick changes to ambience; fellow photographers will be familiar with the tricks of fixing redness/reddish scars with redder filters, making a model slimmer using lots of shadows, and making someone…less-than-striking look more palatable with a more-contrasty exposure (well, that last one takes some finesse, but anyway).
That said, if I wanted to turn a photo of Mr. X into a photo of a completely different person, this would not be my app of choice. Adobe Fix is probably my top-ranking app in the “photographic surgery” category (at the moment).
Things I am not fond of (but that wouldn’t make me take this off of the list of OUTSTANDING, tho):
- The whole Saving Hullaballoo Thing
- The fact that Undo is in the top left corner (when you’re transcribing research notes/interviews, writing up articles, editing photos, and testing apps 20 hours a day, you get to feel the way that someone walking on a sprained ankle might feel, aka “saving even five steps in a day is a HUGE help.” (Of course, my “sprained ankle” doesn’t vex me enough to stop working on technology for very long. Or, should I say, “the LOSS of my beloved technologies would hurt me FAR worse than do my TOTALLY OUCH 24/7 wrists, hands, and arms,” so yay for apps!)
In sum, worth ten times as the $4.99 I paid for it. aka “Pixelmator’s going on Page 1 of my home screen.”
(More galleries and philosophical commentary about Pixelmator in the weeks and months to come!)