Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Another look at Pixelmator

After posting a quick review of Pixelmator version 1.2.3, I got some comments that basically said two things:
  1. crop to selection is available in the context menu;
  2. paste as a new image is easy to accomplish.
These issues are indeed resolved, see below. So I continued my quest and tried to find the following features in Pixelmator:
  • autocrop
  • show the image size
  • view the name of the assigned color profile
  • remove the assigned color profile
  • show the size of the current selection while selecting
  • edit the selection
  • quantization, convert to indexed color
Crop to selection
Indeed crop to selection is available in the context menu, which is activated by Ctrl-LeftClick or RightClick (if your mouse has a second button).

Paste as new image
Doing a bit of searching I found (on the Pixelmator forum) that pasting as a new image is indeed easy, just follow these steps:
  1. copy whatever you want to paste in Pixelmator to the clipboard;
  2. activate File -> New Image in Pixelmator (Cmd-N); the new image will automatically take the dimensions of the image in the clipboard;
  3. activate Edit -> Paste (Cmd-V) in Pixelmator.
That's it. Indeed very simple, although not intuitive IMHO.

Autocrop
Autocrop is not available directly in Pixelmator, it seems. However, this is fairly easily worked around:
  1. select the Magic Wand tool (keyboard shortcut: W);
  2. click on the outer region of the image;
  3. invert the selection (Shift-Cmd-I);
  4. show the context menu (Ctrl-LeftClick or RightClick);
  5. select Crop;
  6. press Enter to confirm.
However, since I use this feature a lot, I still prefer to have a single menu option so I can assign a keyboard shortcut to it.

Show the image size
The size of the current image can be viewed using the command File -> File Info... or by pressing the keyboard shortcut Alt-Shift-Cmd-I. Easy enough.

Personally I would prefer to have the option to show the image size in the title bar. This option is unavailable in the Preferences. But this is a minor nuisance.

View the name of the assigned color profile
The assigned color profile can also be viewed using the File Info... command (Alt-Shift-Cmd-I). Excellent.

Remove the assigned color profile
There is no direct menu option for removing the color profile. However, it's easy to do:
  1. select all of the image (Cmd-A);
  2. copy it (Cmd-C);
  3. create a new image (Cmd-N) – it will automatically get the right dimensions;
  4. paste (Cmd-V).
That's it.

Show the size of the current selection while selecting
With the Rectangular Marquee Tool (shortcut: M) you can select a rectangular region. While selecting, I'd like to be able to see the size of the selection, because often the selection needs to fit a certain predefined size or maximum size.

In Pixelmator it seems impossible, however, to view the width and height of the selection while selecting it.

Edit the selection
When a (rectangular) region is selected, the selection cannot easily be adjusted. There is a Refine Selection tool available for changing the selection, but this tool does not allow manually editing the selection, for example to add a few pixels on the right.

GIMP 2.4.7 has a simple but powerful feature that allows the selection to be edited with the mouse on 6 axes (top, top-right, right, etc.) This would be a welcome improvement for Pixelmator as well.

Although this (fairly basic) functionality is missing, the power of the Refine Selection tool should not go unnoticed. It allows advanced selection editing, for example to change a rectangular selection area to a rounded rectangular area. Very nice indeed.

Quantization, convert to indexed color
Finally another feature I'm using all the time in GIMP is changing an RGB image to indexed color, to optimize it for display on the Web. This uses a technique known as image quantization, which uses one of a few algorithms to create an optimum palette for the resulting image.

This feature seems to be missing in Pixelmator.

Conclusion
Pixelmator is a powerful image manipulation program that looks very very good. It has various very powerful functions, such as filters, layers, advanced selections, etc. Also it support a large number of bitmap formats for export.

However, for me, Pixelmator is currently not able to replace GIMP for day-to-day image manipulation. It seems to be missing some features that I need to have at my fingertips all the time.

If some of the features I think are missing are hidden somewhere under the surface, please drop me a note in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. "GIMP 2.4.7 has a simple but powerful feature that allows the selection to be edited with the mouse on 6 axes (top, top-right, right, etc.) This would be a welcome improvement for Pixelmator as well."

    Why you don't just right click inside your just made selection and choose transform selection? That will let you edit your selection.

    Or learn even more tips and tricks by watching the magnificent video tutorials on the following locations.

    http://web.me.com/sebvdv/PixelmatorTutorials/Podcast/Podcast.html

    and on iTunes: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?

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