Whether you are an existing Pixelmator user, someone looking to find an alternative to Photoshop, or a graphics newbie – this article is for you.
Here you can find our in-depth review of Pixelmator Pro (current version Whirlwind).
Pixelmator has long been a strong contender for Photoshop alternatives. It has become our most used tool across photography, game design, app design, web design, and pixel perfect graphics and image editing needs. Our shared love of the Pixelmator inspired the creation of PixelmatorTemplates and PixelmatorShortcuts, to help everyone else realise the potential of this product.
Pixelmator Pro is only a few weeks old, so you’ll have to be patient as the product team rolls out new features and bug fixes. Check out the dedicated coming soon page for new tools and features.
At the time of this post, Pixelmator Pro isn’t available on the iPad.
So, let’s get into it.
Let’s address this one up front and get it out-of-the-way. The new product comes with an introductory price tag of $59.99 on the app store. Introductory because the company has mentioned it might increase the price to $99.99 soon, which I hope they hold off on until Pixelmator Pro gets a lot more traction. This is significantly more expensive compared to previous versions of Pixelmator; however it is still a far cheaper than any of the more professional tools like Photoshop or Illustrator etc.
What you should realise is that this is in fact a completely new product, 5 years in the making, and not just a version upgrade from the previous Pixelmator app.
However, you might be wondering, what can the Pixelmator team have done to improve Pixelmator? Just a few tweaks and minor updates or is this a complete evolution to create one of the most advanced image editing packages around.
Sexy, Sultry, Dark User Interface
The most satisfying change is the new user interface. The sexy, sultry, dark user interface looks and feels pretty slick. Its got a place for everything and everything in its place, from the streamlined toolbar at the top of the app, to easily accessible common editing tools, which really improve your workflow. Also, love the new shortcut that allows you to hide all the toolbars at once, which leaves only your image on display.
Layers to the left, Tools on the right!!
Having suffered from floating panels and toolbar overload with limited screen real estate before in Pixelmator, the new Pixelmator Pro user interface is well thought out. Layers panel is now permanently on the left hand side of the canvas, while an optimised set of tool icons and toolbars are aligned to the right side of your canvas. This already makes a huge difference as it is simple and quick to use. The design is clean and functional, but a little sparse, so will take a little getting used to from the previous version of Pixelmator.
The layers panel gives you small thumbnail lists and descriptive names – automagically added by the new AI machine learning elements of the app, and it is pretty good at identifying images. Pretty cool.
New and Improved Tools
Pixelmator Pro provides completely nondestructive color adjustments, effects, styles, and layout tools. With the new version control, the tool really gives the user the freedom and flexibility to go back and modify or delete individual changes at any point in the editing workflow.
Thanks to the new presets feature, you can create endless combinations of multiple adjustments, effects, or styles, save them to your favourites and reuse them in any of your images.
Color adjustments are easier than ever to mix and match. you get direct access to tools like Curves, Grain and more with the click of a button. The Effects feature is also back with dozens of effects that can be quickly applied and combined.
Drag-and-drop sharing was one of those simple, but necessary features, which is now also part of Pixelmator Pro – this makes sharing presets, shapes, brushes, and anything else super simple.
We also love the new sets of Brushes readily available in Pixelmator Pro and the use of Apple’s Metal 2 technology enhances the overall painting experience. There is now support for Adobe Photoshop brushes too – about time!!
New Pixelmator Pro Tutorials – Coming Soon
To really show off the wide range of new features and innovations like RAW support, permanent Undo, and powerful tools like retouching, shaping, selection, shape and vector tools, we need to show you what they can do in action.
We will also be releasing new tutorials dedicated for Pixelmator Pro, so keep an eye out or sign up to our newsletter.
Since the release of v1.0 to v1.0.5 Whirlwind, the Pixelmator team has been hard at work getting a lot of issues and bugs fixed. There are some still to be released, but from experience, we know that the Pixelmator team are kicking ass to get these over the line. Keep an eye out for newer versions of Pixelmator Pro – it will only get better over time.
Make sure to report any new bugs or issues on the dedicated bug reporting page for Pixelmator Pro.
It doesn’t have what I want
We found some features in the older version of Pixelmator is not implemented as yet in Pixelmator Pro, but to be released soon, like Quick Mask Mode, so for the moment, we will be using both Pixelmator Pro and Pixelmator 3.7 Mount Whitney for PixelmatorTemplates.
It may not work on your current Mac
There are three main reasons why Pixelmator Pro may not work on your Mac:
- You don’t have the latest Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.xx version installed
- Your Mac doesn’t have a 64 bit CPU
- Your Mac version doesn’t have Metal – here is Apple’s list of Mac’s that support Metal.
If you don’t have any of the above, then Pixelmator Pro should work seamlessly on your Mac. If you do encounter any other issues, make sure to raise it with the Pixelmator support team. Don’t worry though, the original Pixelmator will still run on your Mac in the meantime.
Overall Pixelmator Pro is worth the upgrade, in our opinion, over the original version, and it looks and works easier and faster. It might not be as clear-cut to some of you however, due to the price differential and the potential need to invest in the new app and possibly a new Mac. Hopefully this review has convinced you of Pixelmator Pro’s merits.
Pixelmator Pro is available on the Mac App Store. What are you waiting for.