Attention Photoshop haters and lovers. It is time to rejoice and unite in spirit and value. There’s a new kid in town and he’s here to claim the Mac360 Value Crown and go head to head against Adobe’s Cash Cow.
Why pay nearly $700 for Photoshop when you can get a high powered design tool for less than one tenth what Adobe charges? Pixelmator has gone Nucleus with more features, more power, same low price.
What Price Power, Photoshop People?
We’ll be the first Mac folks to stand in line and tell you that Photoshop is an awesome Mac app. Over the past 20 years (Photoshop is that old) has there been any other graphic app that’s better or does more?
Therein lies the problem. Photoshop does everything. And Adobe charges $699 for the privilege.
Capability that covers everything a graphic designer may want can’t be a bad thing, can it? After all, Photoshop is a professional tool, it’s used by professionals to create the world’s finest graphics, therefore it deserves (and you get to pay) a professional price.
In other words, all that power comes at a price. So, the logical question is, “How much Photoshop power do you really need?” Now it’s time to think about the whole situation. Is 85-percent of the power of Photoshop worth one tenth the price of Photoshop?
Pixelmator Goes Nucleus
Photoshop is an image editor. Pixelmator is an image editor. Photoshop is powerful. Pixelmator is powerful. Photoshop is expensive and complex. Pixelmator is far less expensive, less complex, and has gone Nucleus.
Nucleus is the latest version of Pixelmator, and features a full 64-bit architecture which makes it faster than ever. If you’re familiar with Photoshop then you know about layers and tools and palettes, oh my.
Pixelmator Nucleus works the same way. Floating palettes of tools are highly reminiscent of Photoshop but with a more modern, 21st century charcoal look that’s inviting and friendly.
What you see in Pixelmator is what you get. Import photos and images directlly from scanners, cameras, even the iPhone. Drop graphic elements into layers, and then group layers to reduce clutter. As it is with Photoshop, Pixelmator relies on familiar tools—magic wand, square selector, lasso, and so on—all pixel accurate.
Painting tools are at once familiar, from pencil to brush, to erase and paint bucket. You control brushes, sizes, shapes, and blending modes. Pixelmator isn’t stingy on professional level tools, either, including retouching tools to blur, harden, or sharpen areas or remove wrinkles and scratches.
Tools are easy to find and easy to drill down to find specific preferences for each, totally intuitive in a way that Photoshop hasn’t seen in a decade of not trying.
What’s New In The Nucleus
Pixelmator is already a darling of value conscious Mac users. What’s not to like for a near-Photoshop clone that’s easier to use and costs one tenth the price?
Nucleus provides 64-bit support for modern Macs, so performance is improved dramatically when images get large, layers get stacked, and effects get complicated. Pixelmator also features Layer Groups, and the ability to export directly to Flickr, Picasa, and Facebook.
Filters and effects can be controlled from precise sliders.
Color can be corrected, managed, and manipulated to fine tune hue, saturation, luminance as well as adjust exposure, change color levels, adjust brightness and contrast—either one element at a time, layers of changes, or with one click Auto Enhance.
Assuming you store you photos and images on your Mac, Pixelmator digs into iPhoto with a Smart Photo Browser to check events, albums, smart albums—everything is drag and drop directly to Pixelmator. Open and save in PSD, JPEG, PNG, PDF, TIFF, EPS, and many other typical Photoshop-usable file formats (over 100), including Photoshop files with layers (a big time saver).
Here’s what you need to know when it comes to comparing Photoshop and Pixelmator. Pixelmator is not Photoshop so it’s not really a replacement—but for many Mac users Pixelmator is Photoshop For The Rest Of Us. In fact, it’s so close to the real thing as to be a solid, dependable value that can replace the real thing with little effort and less fear.
Caveat Emptor, Brutus?
Caveats? No CMYK support from Pixelmator is one. No dodge and burn tools is two and three. No vector tools, either, so there are conspicuous absences from Pixelmator. And I’m not totally convinced that dark charcoal floating palettes are the best way to display tools which require such precision. Photoshop’s palette’s seem to be less conspicuous, though decidedly more complex to learn.
Pixelmator Nucleus is total value with a professional look and more than enough high quality tools to compete with Photoshop for any Mac user other than diehard Adobe fanboys, or Photoshop shops already licensed to the poorhouse. For other alternatives to Adobe’s increasingly expensive tools, check out my trilogy: Affordable Mac Alternatives for Adobe CS5, Pt. 1, Affordable Mac Alternatives for Adobe CS5, Pt. 2, Affordable Mac Alternatives for Adobe CS5, Pt. 3. Otherwise, try Pixelmator Nucleus and save a few hundred dollars.