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  • App Spotlight: Editing Photos and Graphics with Pixelmator and Affinity Photo

    Posted on Nathan Parker Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems macOS App Spotlight: Editing Photos and Graphics with Pixelmator and Affinity Photo

    This topic contains 0 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Nathan Parker 6 months, 3 weeks ago.

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      Nathan Parker

      One of the most powerful and professional photo and graphics editing applications is Adobe Photoshop. While Photoshop’s subscription price isn’t that steep, and for graphics professionals that make a living on Photoshop will likely continue using it, Photoshop can be daunting for the “hobbyist prosumer” user (such as myself), as well as some professionals may simply not wish to be tied to an Adobe subscription just to edit photos and graphics. For my personal use, Adobe Photoshop is overkill to warrant the subscription cost and management overhead since I casually edit photos and graphics more for a hobby, and even when I edit graphics for work, I generally tweak what other graphics professionals have already built (such as the excellent graphics from MetGraphics).

      There are a few excellent photo and graphics editing apps that have fresh, easy-to-use interfaces, powerful and professional editing features (including some features not even in Photoshop), all without being tied to an Adobe subscription. This week’s “App Spotlight” will feature Pixelmator for Mac, Pixelmator for iOS, Pixelmator Pro for Mac, Pixelmator Photo for iPad, and Affinity Photo (including for iPad).

      Pixelmator for Mac and Pixelmator for iOS

      I’ve personally used Pixelmator for Mac for years. The price is super reasonable (about $30 on the Mac App Store). I’ve mainly used it to edit graphics as a Photoshop alternative, although it can also be used for some photo editing as well. It includes a full suite of tools for image editing, a fresh and easy-to-use interface, plus plenty of effects and the ability to perform layer editing similar to Photoshop. For those who need to quickly, easily, and powerfully edit images and graphics, Pixelmator is a fantastic value.

      Pixelmator also takes advantage of a wealth of macOS technologies (GPU processing, iCloud, macOS Photos extension, etc.), so it feels more at home on the simplicity of a Mac than Photoshop does. I keep Pixelmator running on my older iMac, and on my iMac Pro, I’ve replaced it with Pixelmator Pro (more on that in a moment).

      Pixelmator also offers a companion app for iOS (both iPhone and iPad) for only $5 on the App Store. It syncs Pixelmator projects over iCloud with Pixelmator for Mac, and for such a low-cost app, it offers powerful and easy-to-use image and graphics editing on-the-go. It’s actually surprising just how powerful Pixelmator is on iOS for such a low price. The only app that would be better is if Pixelmator would release Pixelmator Pro for iOS, although they have recently released Pixelmator Photo for iPad (more on that in a moment).

      For those who need powerful image and editing tools across macOS and iOS, Pixelmator is a fantastic value.

      Pixelmator Pro for Mac and Pixelmator Photo for iPad

      When I upgraded to an iMac Pro for my day-to-day work machine, I immediately purchased Pixelmator Pro for Mac. It’s currently about $40 on the Mac App Store (which I believe is a sale price for the time being), yet it is a solid upgrade from Pixelmator. It still packs and easy-to-use interface, although the interface is a fresh, new, all-in-one window (versus Pixelmator took a more multi-window strategy similar to how Mac applications used to behave). There’s a suite of powerful and professional-level image and graphics editing tools that take Pixelmator to an entire new level. The latest edition also includes a macOS Photos extension that puts the entire power of Pixelmator Pro inside macOS Photos to allow for easy editing of photos inside one’s macOS Photos library. Improvements to layouting, painting, color adjustment, effects, and support for Metal 2 graphics, Core ML, and machine learning make Pixelmator Pro one of the most powerful upgrades, plus with features not even available on Photoshop yet (such as some of the machine learning-powered features). My only “issue” with it is that my memory is so ingrained in the original Pixelmator that I need to re-train my brain on the new interface on Pixelmator Pro (a video comparing some of the interface differences would be great at getting me fully settled into it).

      While Pixelmator Pro hasn’t made it to iOS yet, Pixelmator has released the powerful new Pixelmator Photo for iPad, which takes powerful photo editing tools on-the-go for only $5 (far less than a Lightroom subscription needed to run Lightroom on iPad). Pixelmator Pro is fully nondestructive on editing and includes a powerful suite of editing tools, plus tools built on machine learning with full RAW support. It reminds me of Luminar 3 for Mac, only bringing similar power to the iPad. It’s super-powerful and a breeze to use when needing to edit photos on-the-go.

      For those who need to take photo, image, and graphics editing to a whole new level, Pixelmator Pro for Mac and Pixelmator Photo for iPad are an incredible value, combining professional-level features in super easy-to-use interfaces and levering the power and simplicity of the Mac and iOS.

      Affinity Photo

      I’ve also recently added Affinity Photo to my photo, image, and graphics editing toolbox, and it is another excellent application that runs on the Mac or Windows for $50 and on the iPad for $20. For those who have used Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photo has the closest feel to Photoshop without the subscription (their website feels very similar to Adobe Creative Cloud, and Affinity Photo feels very similar to Photoshop, although still easier to use and more understandable than the omnious feel of Photoshop).

      Affinity Photo can handle image and graphics editing well, and it also makes for a solid photo editor, offering full RAW support and photo developing tools. Affinity Photo splits the workspaces up into “personas”, with the photos persona feeling more like Photoshop, the deveop persona offering full RAW editing (similar to Lightroom), plus personas for exporting and for tweaking images further. One can easily make fine-tuned adjustments and flawless retouching, plus it offers full layer support as well. For Mac users, it also includes support for Metal and other macOS technologies, plus it supports plugins and also fully integrates into macOS Photos with an extension to bring the power of Affinity Photo right inside one’s macOS Photos library.

      Affinity Photo for iPad takes the power of Affinity Photo on-the-go, allowing users to continue their photo, image, and graphics editing needs anywhere. Affinity Photo for iPad is also super-powerful and easy-to-use, and with a flat $20 fee versus a subscription, it’s an excellent value for the amount of power it packs into an iPad app.

      Bottom Line

      While some graphics professionals will likely continue to use Photoshop, for the “hobbyist prosumer” (such as myself) or for those who simply don’t want to be tied to an Adobe subscrption and/or want powerful image and graphics editing in a simpler interface, there are some solid alternatives. Pixelmator for Mac and Pixelmator for iOS sync well together and offer an excellent value and simple-to-use interface that leverage more macOS technologies, while Pixelmator Pro for Mac and Pixelmator Photos for iOS take everything to a whole new level with machine learning, Metal 2 support in Pixelmator Pro, and offer powerful and professional graphics and photo editing tools. Affinity Photo has the closest feel to Photoshop (without the subscription), and it offers a wealth of professional graphics editing tools, including some excellent photo editing tools and RAW development features. It syncs well with Affinity Photo for iPad to allow users to take their professional editing needs on the go, and for those who need to also run a powerful Photoshop replacement on Windows, Affinity Photo is a good choice. Each of these applications have a place in my toolbox, and together, I have a wealth of powerful and professional-level tools at my fingertips, all with easy-to-use interfaces, seamless macOS and iOS support, and no subscription needed.

      Nathan Parker

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