Powerful image editing app adds impressive new features.
A few years ago, I was introduced to Pixelmator, a very advanced image editing application for Mac. In my mind, it has the potential to replace Photoshop as a primary editing tool for graphic designers. The developers have gradually been adding features over the past few years that enhance the editing capabilities of the app and make the user experience even more friendly than it already is. One of the things that I truly love about Pixelmator is that it’s SO easy to use and if you have even the basic background knowledge of Photoshop, you can easily transfer those skills to Pixelmator. The transition from one app to the other is quite seamless as you have the option to open Photoshop files or export to PSD with Pixelmator.
Today, the Pixelmator team is releasing its latest update Pixelmator version 3.5 Canyon. This update brings three huge updates to the infrastructure of the app. Inside Pixelmator itself, users will now have a Quick Selection and Magnetic Selection tool available for editing and inside Photos, you now have the power of Pixelmator with the Retouch Extension. In addition to these tools, the Pixelmator Team has also included some fixes and stability improvements on the backend of the app to help it run more smoothly than ever before. While I don’t do a lot of intricate photo editing these days, I do have a call to use selection tools frequently. So, I’m very excited about these updates.
I was fortunate enough to be able to test out Pixelmator 3.5 before its release and have noted some of my experiences below.
Quick Selection Tool
Next to the Magic Wand, Quick Selection tools are the tool I end up using the most in any image editor. I cut out backgrounds often so that I can paste them on top of another image. While I’ve used this tool – or ones similar to it – I’ve found Pixelmator’s specialized tool to be superior to any competitors. It’s actually almost easier than the Magic Wand. According to the Pixelmator Team, the Quick Selection tool uses advanced calculations behind the tool analyze colors, textures, shadows, and many more elements of the image, so you can effortlessly select very precise and complex areas. It really does work just like magic.
I love that you simply click and drag the area you want to select and release to select it. Within a few seconds, you can conceivably have your layer isolated depending on the level of detail present in the original image. For my testing purposes, I used a fairly simple image – the daisy on a blue background shown below (image on the left is the original). I was able to isolate the daisy so that I could cut it out and place it in outer space. The entire process took me about 5 minutes.
Here are some of the features that come along with the Quick Selection tool.
- Edge Detection: Smart Edge Detection lets you select an object incredibly precisely even if there is a very similar one right beside it.
- Direction Awareness: Awareness of the direction in which you’re selecting an object lets the Tool predict what you will want to select next.
- Smooth Outline: A separate algorithm perfects the outline of your selection, so you can copy the object into another image naturally.
- Shadow Recognition: Shadow Recognition lets you magically select an object while leaving its shadow unselected.
- Smart Borders: Smart Borders makes sure you select only the area you want even if you move the selection brush over that area.
- Dynamic Brush: The brush size auto-adjusts as you zoom in or out of your image, so it always stays the right size.
Magnetic Selection Tool
This is another very helpful tool that I’ve used frequently throughout the years. With this option, you can cut out parts of images that would otherwise take hours to select by hand. The tool works by automatically snapping to the edges of the image that you trace. It allows you to select very details areas with just a few clicks. I’ve found this to be very helpful when you end up needing to make intricate selections. The Magnetic Selection tool really goes hand in hand with the Quick Selection tool. You can use them both in tandem. Some of the additional benefits you get with the Magnetic Selection tool include:
- Core Animation: Core Animation is used to create the most beautiful selection marker line that has ever existed. Because every detail counts.
- A* Outline: The selection outline is perfected with the advanced optimal path finding method, called A*, mainly used in video games.
- Smart Anchors: The position of all the anchor points your clip is gently refined to perfectly match the edge of the object you trace.
- Core Image: Magnetic Selection Tool takes full advantage of the powerful Core Image technology for amazing quality and speed.
- Perfect Snap: The selection magically snaps around the edges of the object you trace, thanks to advanced calculations underneath.
- Keyboard Shortcuts: Smart keyboard shortcuts let you quickly switch between tools, adjust the brush size, remove anchor points, and do more.
To show just how quick and efficient these new internal tools are, I’ve created a short video that demonstrates me opening the daisy image shown above, selecting some areas of the image using the Quick Selection and Magnetic Selection tools. This video is shown in real-time.
This new feature brings the power of Pixelmator to Photos. The extension adds a collection of Pixelmator’s retouching tools so that you can make your edits without having to leave Photos. With this extension, you can –
- Repair: Remove unwanted objects with a single brushstroke
- Color: Fine-tune saturation with a simple brush
- Clone: Quickly and easily copy parts of your photo
- Soften: Paint over parts of your image to blur them
- Light: Adjust the lightness in just the areas you want
- Sharpen: Bring out the details in your favorite shots
The Pixelmator Retouch Extension is really an amazing development for this app. It uses the best of Mac developer tools as it was built using Swift 2.2 and powered by Metal. The feature also incorporates Force Touch support, which helps you become more efficient with your trackpad gestures. The Pixelmator Team design this extension to be as natural as possible and create a totally native experience for the user.
Pixelmator 3.5 is truly a revolutionary evolution in image editing on the Mac. It’s taken the already powerful platform and created more options for designers to be efficient and productive. This is a great app for anyone who does any image editing.
DOWNLOAD – Pixelmator – $29.99 Mac