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Pixelmator 2.0 released with new tools, content-awareness, Lion support


I ditched Photoshop for Pixelmator about a year ago, but there were a few things missing in Pixelmator which caused me to fire up Photoshop once in a while. I also recently bought Aperture in an effort to better organize and retouch photos I started taking on my new Canon Rebel. Pixelmator 2 fixes many omissions which had me reaching for Photoshop, and in some ways is better than Aperture. Read on to learn about a few features I checked out in the short time I tried out the update.

Lion Support

Full screen is great, but when dealing with images I think full support for Lion's autosave and versioning will really hit photogs and designers in the sweet spot. I also dig how Pixelmator has eschewed floating palette-mania for inline toolbars that appear when various tools are selected.

Text tool

Oh, finally we have some control over text! Here's a great example of the toolbar appearing in a document (image) window when needed, and it's really helpful. No clutter, no moving things around, just the tools you need to tweak the tool you're using.

Anyway, the Text tool finally has the fine control over text alignment, adjustment and placement that was sorely lacking before.

Vector Shapes

Mercy me, there's a vector set of tools in Pixelmator at last. Create shapes, use a proper pen tool and editing tools, etc. I'm not going to say Pixelmator matches Photoshop here, because there are still some tricks you can't do with paths in Photoshop that are still missing from Pixelmator, but the addition of vector shapes keeps me from launching something else just to add a simple shape that I can easily scale.

Smudge, Sponge, Red Eye and Healing

Smudge does exactly what you'd expect, and works great. Sponge allows you to saturate and desaturate areas of your image, and it works well also. But photographers will be stoked to use the excellent red eye feature, and even more excited by the smart healing brush.

I actually think red eye and healing work better in Pixelmator 2 than in Aperture. One thing I can definitely say: the responsiveness is better in Pixelmator. If you have ever been aggravated by Aperture's crummy pinch-to-zoom and scrolling when dealing with the red eye and healing fixes, you'll be happy to know that Pixelmator is "like butter" by comparison. Apple needs to optimize Aperture (or fix the bugs!) fast.

Mac App Store

Pixelmator 2 is on the Mac App Store for a lowered price right now ($29.99), and I gladly bought it even though I had the non-MAS version. Why? Because totaling up every penny I've spent on Pixelmator in the few years I've been using it is still about 10% of what Photoshop will cost you. There's hardly a better value out there, especially if you work with pixels on a daily basis.

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