Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pixelmator 1.0

Pixelmator 1.0 looks like a good start. It feels a lot like older, less Windowsy, versions of Photoshop. The Core Data–based file format is a good idea. As with Acorn, there is currently no way to preview the quality when exporting to JPEG or PNG. Jesper has some good criticisms, but the sticking point for me is the transparent HUD-style palettes and windows, all overloaded with black. The interface is distracting, except when it was in full-screen mode. Acorn’s interface is not distracting, and it’s refreshingly clean. Also, I’m still wondering in what sense Pixelmator is “The World's First GPU-Powered Image Editor.” It’s certainly not the first to use Core Image.

Meanwhile, Photoshop Elements 4 isn’t a universal binary, and there’s no Mac version of 5. The Mac version of Photoshop Elements 6 is planned for 2008 and looks more like Lightroom than Photoshop. I don’t think I have any use for such a product.

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As a long-time Photoshop user, I actually found Pixelmator's interface less distracting than Acorn's. I never even noticed the low contrast of the tools palette. Pixelmater offers 95% of what I use in Photoshop, and it offers it in the places I expect it to be.

Acorn offers about 70% of what I use in Photoshop, and it offers it in strange places.

They are both great apps, and I bought both, but I think they can't really be compared. Acorn seems to be for people who don't usually do a lot of graphics editing and aren't used to the palette UI style of Photoshop, while Pixelmator seems to be for people looking for a simpler, faster, cheaper alternative to Photoshop.

Acorn is probably easier to learn for new users, while Pixelmator is probably easier to learn for Photoshop users.

Yes, I certainly agree that both are good apps and that Pixelmator feels more familiar to Photoshop users. Which you prefer will depend on which subset of Photoshop you use, and on how much you like having lots of palettes.

I've heard some of the best reactions to Acorn precisely from people who are used to - and hate - the palette UI style of Photoshop. (I should add that I personally love it. But not everyone does.)

I also thought Pixelmator felt like an early version of Photoshop - which is great for me. I still use 7.0 when I can. I just don't need the bloat.

The palettes bug me too, but I was all set to plop down my $59 when I realized there is no CMYK. That's a deal-breaker.

I think it's become very clear over the last few years that Photoshop is no longer the answer for the majority of people who need an image editor. Hell, I doubt if it's the answer for most pros any more. Every time they come out with an update I wonder, "who USES this stuff?"

There's an opportunity here for someone. Pixelmator and Acorn are both strong candidates*, but neither are "there" yet. I'll check back in on them both in a year or so.

P.S. How is Pixelmator not breaking a thousand different Adobe patents? Seriously.

*Since Graphic Converter seems content to look and function like an app from 1995.

Hi Michael, I think Jesper has made some good points and well too.I had never really thought about the Adobe patents issue before. Maybe we'll see! And soon!

GraphicConverter keeps getting sand kicked in its face in these discussions, I've seen, but if you're more into photography than finding the reincarnation of MacPaint, I'm not sure what any of these programs offer over GC. It has nearly all the Core Image functionality, supports Photoshop plug-ins, supports 16-bit image editing, and has very sophisticated controls for color and level correction.

I may yet end up buying Acorn because it'd be nice to actually have that MacPaint replacement, but forget Photoshop--when you stop going "new Mac-specific programs pretty, old programs ugly!" and compare them feature-to-feature, neither of these are yet even Photoshop Elements 4's equal.

I've used Graphic Converter, and I HATE that application passionately. It's so old-fashioned and it just doesn't function very well. Maybe it's just because I'm not used to it, but personally it's horrible.

And I love Pixelmator and dislike Acorn, but Pixelmator isn't there yet. It doesn't offer vector shapes or layer effects. Also, it should off live layer filters.

Might be more useful to talk about what specifically is good or bad about GC instead of just saying 'its old-fashioned!'

Where I found GC lacking the other day is in selection operations and direct pixel-pushing. I was trying to do a color-shift on one area of a picture. The magic wand tool did a usable job of selecting the area I needed to work on. However, while there were plenty of filters and color-shift tools, none of them would operate on a selection. And the lack of any brush tool made it too hard to do the shift manually.

GraphicConverter's interface is sprawling and disorganized. Menu organization makes little sense, there are loads of items I can't even begin to guess the function of (everything on the "Special" menu, Effect menu is disorganized, use of terms like "Trim" instead of Crop, etc, etc), the preferences window is an ABOMINATION, and the price goes up (what was so great about 6.0 that warrants paying again?) and the functionality and interface just doesn't improve.

Pixelmator is indeed a breath of fresh air. I've stuck with Photoshop Elements 2.0 for ages, as the interface works and the functions are almost exactly what I need (full screen and better masking tools are about all I miss). But... it isn't Universal, and the interface is getting a bit tired (not that I like anything they've done since...).

Once a few more features are added (mostly in the realm of selection improvements, and turning off transparency!), I'll be more than happy to plunk down money for it. :)

Have you guys looked at DrawIt?
A new version will be released soon:

It's got a lot of the functionality that both Acorn and Pixelmator have, and some more :-)

am i the only one who has noticed that there are huge feature omissions in Pixelmator which make it pretty lousy for photo-editing ?
like any tool to alter the colour balance of an image for example...

as a side note about the Photoshop updates no longer being relevant; i am professionally a photographic retoucher i work predominantly in Photoshop. the new tools in each PS revision redefine what's possible within the industry.


" The Mac version of Photoshop Elements 6 is planned for 2008 and looks more like Lightroom than Photoshop. I don’t think I have any use for such a product."

Er, it's a $99 product. It's a consumer version of Photoshop. In earlier versions they co-marketed it with an iPhoto-style app for managing your pictures; apparently they've integrated that into Elements 6, which is probably why it looks like a consumer version of Lightroom. That may be why the Lightroom-ness is played up in the marketing materials - it's a new feature.

They are not marketing their $99 home product as a equivalent for their $299 Lightroom product.

Alex, You're probably not alone, but let's not forget that PS is in version 9.0 and Pixelmator is version 1.0. It's a great start but likely won't ever be a replacement for Photoshop for the pros. However, Pixelmator has a few tricks up its sleeve that Photoshop cannot perform most of the distortion filters can be moved around the image which makes it a great creative companion to Photoshop. Version 2.0 will likely have many of the issues resolved. I'm excited to think about what the creators have in store for Pixelmator. It's not like they have to be locked into as rigid of a development plan as Adobe. They have plenty of room to be innovative and hopefully Leopard will solve some of the memory leaks in Core Image.

I would just like to add that Graphic Converter is a great value and Lemke's program shouldn't be picked on that much. IT WASN'T MADE TO BE A PHOTOSHOP REPLACEMENT. It is a swiff army knife/multipurpose tool for people needing to change/manage their pictures. It wasn't made to be a retoucher or pixel pusher. If you want a free pixel pusher, try Pixen. If you want to retouch pictures, use Photoshop, Gimp, Elements, Seashore, Pixelmator or Acorn. After all, Thorsten is just one guy and has had to listen to everyone's suggestion for what completes his/her pipeline. GCX does what it was designed to do well and apparently Apple computer recognized that or else they would not have included it with Mac OSX.

As mentioned by Pieter, Drawit is a very cool application...
I bought the licence for Acorn, Pixelmator and Drawit and must admit that should I have started with Drawit I would probably not have bought the 2 others...
Its interface is nice and clean, it offers vectors (which Acorn and Pixelmator do not) and the ability for any vector-based shape you may create to be used as a mask. Very cool !!!

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