Photoshop is the most feature rich photo editor on any platform, but that does not mean it is always the best tool for every job. Just recently the developers of Pixelmator released version 2.0 of their photo editing application. The question this article will attempt to answer is "Can one use Pixelmator instead of Photoshop?" not whether Pixelmator is better than Photoshop.
Despite its lower price, Pixelmator does have a number of advantages over Photoshop and those include:
1. Interactivity: Pixelmator's core features are being written from the ground up. The developers can greatly improve these features over Photoshop by creating more interactive tools. Adobe has not updated Photoshop's core toolset in a long time and it shows. For example, Pixelmator's wand tool is miles ahead of Photoshop with its interactive tolerance control. Interactivity is currently Pixelmator's greatest advantage over Photoshop.
2. Mac Only App: Being a Mac only application, Pixelmator stays more up-to-date with the operating system. Adobe only releases major updates to Photoshop every one-and-a-half years. If an OS update falls in-between, the customer has to wait until he next Photoshop version to get any new OS update support. Pixelmator is continually updated to keep it running well with any new OS update. Being a Mac only app, Pixelmator also has more Mac features, such as Lion's versions and full screen options.
3. Price: Pixelmator's price tag ($30) makes upgrades (or full purchases in the Mac App Store) a no brainer compared to Photoshop's cost ($600). With Adobe's lack of OS updates and nonexistent support for older versions, price and update frequency are big issues.
4. Simplicity: Pixelmator has an impressive set of features for graphic and photo artists. Just because it does not have the same features Photoshop does not mean one can achieve the same result. While Photoshop has many ways to do the same thing, Pixelmator usually only has one or two. This may create frustration for many Photoshop users since their favorite tool is not included. If a user can adapt to Pixelmator's way of doing things, it can actually be simpler and easier to learn and use.
5. Cost: Pixelmator can save you money both in the purchase of the software and also the hardware required to use it. Pixelmator is "lightweight", loads quickly, takes less space and is fast in responding to user requests — even on lower end laptops.
There are always areas where an application needs improvement, and Pixelmator is no exception. The following are areas are where Pixelmator can improve its position against Photoshop in an artist's workflow.
Needed Pixelmator Improvements
1. More Vector Tools: Pixelmator 2.0 brought vectors to its feature list. The vectors are easier than Photoshops to work with, and as with most Pixelmator tools, are more interactive. But Pixelmator must to continue to improve these tools within saved custom shapes, custom shape palette, align and distribute tools, convert selections to vectors, and convert vectors to selections. Adobe does not want to cannibalize Illustrator, so they leave out many needed vector tool out of Photoshop. Pixelmator does not have this Adobe product conflict, and could actually best Photoshop by adding Import / Export Vector Artwork and Vector Push / Pull tools.
2. 16-bit images: To elevate Pixelmator to a professional application, the program needs to add the ability to edit 16-bit images. 16-bit image support is not a flashy feature, but it is still very important one to add, along with a CMYK workflow (currently Pixelmator only works as an RGB solution).
3. Adjustment Layers and Layer Styles: These two features allow artwork to be easily edited at a later date, which happens continually in the digital world. While edit-ability is not a feature, it is Pixelmator's biggest weakness when comparing it with Photoshop. Adjustment layers and layer styles are two ways Photoshop allows artists to modify their work. Photoshop's layer style is nice, but there are many area's it needs improvement. It would be nice to see the Pixelmator crew take a fresh look at edit-ability and come up with something better and easier to use by combing adjustment layers and layer styles some way.
4. AppleScript Support: Adding AppleScript support would allow users and other developers to make Pixelmator better by creating new automation features. This would be great for both the users and developers as it creates new features without using up the developer's time.
Pixelmator has come a long with since it was first released. For many users, it can replace Photoshop in their workflow, especially if one is willing to learn Pixelmator's way of doing things. Pixelmator may lack power edit-ability, but it makes some of that up in interactiveness and overall Mac-like usability. Pixelmator is slowly becoming a major competitor to Photoshop as the Pixelmator team continues to add more features.
Pixelmator 2.0 brought a number of great feature to the application. If you want to see more, visit their website and take a look.