Pixelmator 3.1 Marble (Mac App Store link) is the latest iteration of an image editing app that's often viewed as the hobbyist photographer's alternative to Adobe Photoshop. Much attention has been focused on Pixelmator as enthusiasts seek to escape the confines of Photoshop CC subscriptions. Recently, Apple featured Pixelmator as part of its performance demos of the new Mac Pro, so it's no accident that the company has now released a fresh update of the program roughly in tandem with Apple's new flagship desktop Mac. That said, version 3.1 comes very close on the heels of Pixelmator 3.0 FX, whose new features are included in this review.
Pixelmator shares some basic features in common with Photoshop. As a full-service image editor, it has an extensive, Photoshop-like toolbar that offers a slate of traditional, recognizable controls that most photographers need for editing, compositing, and enhancing images, as well as for drawing and painting. The program also offers a wide range of special effects in categories such as Blur, Distortion, Sharpen, Color Adjustments, Tile, Stylize, Halftone, Generator, and more.
Layer styles, liquify tools, and a new image-editing engine highlighted the new features introduced in October 2013's Pixelmator 3.0 FX version, which was tailored to the release of Apple's Mavericks OS. It made creating polished compositions with non-destructive editing tools an easy and smooth experience.
With its enhanced, multiple-display support, Pixelmator offers even more flexibility to open window palettes wherever you want to, and on any display you choose.
The new Liquify tool lets you twist parts of an image, add whimsical artistic detail, or distort images in whole or part with the Warp, Bump, Pinch, and Twirl commands. Click or drag to enlarge, pinch, squeeze, or stretch parts of your images for a grotesque look or to create and enhance unusual details. I found these tools to be fluid with excellent performance, even on an old Mac Pro, as well as on a newer iMac and a MacBook Air. The program's support for both iPhoto and Aperture in accessing libraries, events, and albums within its browser palette is an added convenience.
Pixelmator offers a slate of useful consumer features that Photoshop added over time, such as the healing tool and red eye removal. It even has a full complement of vector tools, which work well, though their capabilities are restricted.
With version 3.1, Pixelmator adds 16-bit performance, which means that you can open and edit high bit-depth files in this version of the program--but saving and converting to 16-bit is reserved for the Mac Pro.
Another new feature introduced in version 3.1 is printed cards, posters, gallery frames, and postcards from the vendor MILK Print on Demand. The ordering process is very easy with step-by-step instructions.
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