Pixelmator Review- A $30 Photoshop Replacement

Similiarly to how any new smartphone has to be compared to the iPhone, any new image editor has to battle it out against Photoshop. This sleek, dark new application called Pixelmator allows any novice to edit their pictures without the need of spending $700 on Photoshop. But how does it compare to Photoshop? Do you feel the cut throat price when using it?
Rather than harping on about all of Pixelmator’s features, I’m going to try and complete a range of different tasks which a novice like myself may need to do on Pixelmator.

Removing someone/something from a picture

For this test I found an image of two dolphins, and I wanted to remove one of them. All I did was select the healing tool, and then highlight all of the baby dolphin which I wanted to remove. Firstly, I removed the dolphin, and then I removed the splash the dolphin had created as it had jumped out of the water. You can see how I did it in this video.

As you can see, removing the dolphin and the splash was fairly easy and only took me 45 seconds. The healing tool is surprisingly smart, and does a great job with removing things from images. Sometimes, it doesn’t get it quite right, and so you need to heal the same area a few times. The heal tool can be a lifesaver if there’s just that one thing in the background that spoils a picture (such as a plastic bag), and is incredibly intuitive. I could easily see complete tech novices learning how to use this tool, because all it involves doing is painting over the offending object with your cursor.

On the left is the original image, and the to the right is the edited one. This was my first attempt at removing something from an image, but I think that it was pretty successful. It only took me 45 seconds, and I’m sure that if I had spent longer on it, I would have seen an even better result.

Dolphin in sea
dolphin jumping

Making an iPhone Background

I like my iPhone backgrounds to be subtle and stylish. Therefore, I usually opt for a simple gradient background. To make one, I opened a new Pixelmator document, set the width to 640, and the height to 960 pixels, and then used the gradient tool to make a green background. Then I saved it as a JPEG file and that was it.
I managed to this in seven seconds. If you were serious about making an iPhone background, you could always add shapes, or copy and paste a logo/image in. If you wanted to compile a few family pictures together and make them into a collage to use as a background, you could do that.

Removing an unattractive feature from an image

For this test, I opted to use this picture a friend took of a can of Diet Coke. I wanted to remove the red label which said ‘Sugar Free’ on the top left of the can.
pixelmator review

To do this, I zoomed in on the image, and used the healing tool again to highlight all of the ‘Sugar Free’ area which I wanted to remove.
pixelmator review

There were a few imperfections left after, so I just healed the offending areas again and I ended up with a nice image. I did a similiar thing on Photoshop: I highlighted the ‘Sugar Free’ area using the ‘Quick Selection Tool’ and then I healed the area using the ‘Spot Healing Tool’. These are the two final edited images. The one on the left was done using Pixelmator, and the one on the right was done using Photoshop.

free photoshop alternative
diet coke

In my opinion, the Pixelmator one has turned out better, and it took me around half the time.


Now ask yourself this: can you justify spending the extra $670 for Photoshop after seeing what Pixelmator can do? For the typical user who just wants to touch pictures up or get rid of a plastic bag in the background, Pixelmator is great. It offers every tool I will ever need, and doesn’t slow my computer down when I use it. If you’re a professional, well I don’t know, supposedly it doesn’t offer auto blend/align tools, or 16 bit, but if you’re like me you won’t have a clue what any of those terms mean.
Two improvement I would like to see in Pixelmator are for all of the tools to display their names when hovered over. Even Photoshop does this, and I feel that an image editor focused at the casual user should definitely have this feature, and Pixelmator should have some alignment tools so it's easier to centre objects. Luckily, Pixelmator has a feature request page here.
The bottom line? Pixelmator is snappy, intuitive and offers everything that 99% of the population will ever need for under 1/20th of the price of Photoshop.
There is a free 30 day trial available here. It can be bought here, and a list of some of its best features is available here.

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Thank you to the Pixelmator team for providing me with a free version of the application to review!

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