I’ve used 3 apps from Adobe since the late 1990’s, Photoshop, Illustrator and up until a few years ago — and sometimes still for the occasional old client’s website update — Dreamweaver. But now Adobe are moving to the Cloud and to a paid monthly subscription model for their software, I thought I’d use this as an
excuse reason to find some alternatives that’s are a little more affordable.
The 3 replacement apps I’ve purchased and started using are Pixelmator, Sketch 2 and Komodo Edit. I thought I’d write a post for each on my early thoughts and how they stack up to their ‘industry standard’ rivals. First up…
I use Photoshop for everything — in many cases I use it even though I know I should probably use Fireworks or Illustrator. I use it every day, I know it so well and don’t have many issues with it. So, why am I looking to swap — well, £17.50 per month and every month to use it is beyond me. Pixelmator has been on my radar since the early releases and I’ve always liked the look of it and have been tempted to switch to it before. At only £10.49 the price point is dramatically different to Photoshop, so I took the plunge and made a purchase.
- The layer grouping is nice, select a bunch of layers then right click on one of them and choose ‘Group’ to add them to a group of layers.
- Moving objects around a canvas is nice, there’s plenty of information and feedback regarding space to nearby elements and the current object will snap to other elements, this makes it good for interface design and layouts.
- It’s quick, really quick!
I don’t really like and would love to see…
- No ability to lock a layer, the only way I’ve been able to not mistakingly edit or move a layer is to turn off ‘auto-select’ on the selection tool. Not ideal.
- I really don’t like OS X’s colour palette being used within Pixelmator, they need to create their own version. Also, a lack of foreground / background colour is a really limitation, when working on a website layout the over night I wasn’t sure of the colour currently being used for various tools.
- Colour management needs to be better implemented, in Photoshop I default to Adobe RGB (1998) as my colour space, but in Pixelmator you have to select and apply a colour space to every image you open and work with.
- A visible undo history would be nice, I’m missing that from Photoshop
- I use Levels in Photoshop a lot, within Pixelmator I’m having to use 2 or 3 filters / effects to accomplish the same level of control.
- Two big requests — one of which (layer styles) is coming later this year — first though, Adjustment Layers. I use these all the time to have a non-destructive work flow for editing artwork and photographs, being able to edit the levels or brightness, carry on working, then go back and make a tweak to those levels is a must. Next up is Layer Styles, I think this has been a big ask from all wannabe Pixelmator users who want to use the app for layout work and I’m so glad it’s finally coming this year.
- I keep going to use the cursor keys to increase and decrease the values in effects and adjustment panels and it doesn’t work — being able to just up a percentage number in a field a couple of notches rather than keep typing in new numbers is so much nicer, plus the previews don’t jump about when going from 55% to 60% as you’ll see 55% then 5% then zero % and then 6% and then finally 60%, this makes it really hard to judge the difference you’re applying.
The negative points are outweighing the positives and for that reason
I’m out I’m going to be hanging on to Photoshop — restricted to the latest version I have, CS5 — and using it as my image editor of choice. I will keep checking in with Pixelmator and the updates from the App Store, the support forums are really great and there’s plenty of people requesting some of the features I’d like to see added, so I hope the team behind Pixelmator are listening — if they are and implement some of the points above — I’ll be giving it another serious trial to replace Photoshop in the future.