Pix­el­ma­tor for iPad

This lay­ers-based, Pho­to­shopfriendly edit­ing tool re­ally shines

Mac Format - - RATED | MAC APPS - De­vel­oper Pix­el­ma­tor Team, pix­el­ma­tor.com/ipad Works with iPad Ver­sion 1.0.1 Support for mul­ti­ple lay­ers Open and save Pho­to­shop files

Pix­el­ma­tor for Mac has long played sec­ond fid­dle to Pho­to­shop. With lay­ers support and com­pre­hen­sive col­lage and draw­ing tools, it’s a far cheaper (but almost as ca­pa­ble) edit­ing tool. The same is true on the iPad, where it’s set to chal­lenge Pho­to­shop Touch.

Its photo re­touch­ing tools rely on drag­ging con­trol points around the screen. So, to tweak the sat­u­ra­tion or sharp­ness can­vas-wide, you need to drag a spot round a cir­cle. Ap­ply a light leak or Bokeh ef­fect and you work with two spots – one to po­si­tion the ef­fect and the other to han­dle both an­gle and reach. All of the can­vas con­trols work this way. You can also paint in more fo­cused ad­just­ments us­ing a re­touch brush.

Make it your own

You can build up your work us­ing lay­ers, which come into their own when you’re com­posit­ing el­e­ments from mul­ti­ple images or us­ing the paint tools for free­hand draw­ing. You can’t add an ef­fect to an empty layer, so un­less you want to ap­ply them di­rectly to your work-in-progress and rely on the undo con­trols if you get things wrong, you’ll have to cre­ate new colour-filled lay­ers and screen out the back­ground.

New lay­ers can be blank, filled with a pat­tern, or adopt clipboard con­tents. You can also use them to add text, graph­ics and shots from Pho­tos. As well as the lasso and mar­quee, there’s a magic wand that se­lects colours in the same way as the smart mask­ing tool in iWork, so the more you drag across a colour, the more of its as­so­ci­ated tones are se­lected. Rather than mask im­me­di­ately as iWork does, Pix­el­ma­tor se­lects the high­lighted range so you can edit or delete.

With nods to­wards iWork, this couldn't have been any more Ap­ple-es­que un­less Jony Ive ac­tu­ally de­signed it him­self

This app side­steps cram­ming con­trols onto drop-down menus, swap­ping out the ed­i­tor view for full-screen menus with huge out­line graph­ics and with brushes that are gen­er­ous stripes, so you can see what they do. We’d like to see th­ese screens go fur­ther, though, with the tool pre­views also sim­u­lat­ing the cur­rent size set­ting: it’s tricky to work out how fat a stripe is when pick­ing from a ‘small’, ‘medium’ and so on, or from a slider that sets the size in per­cent­age rather than pix­els.

It works with iCloud Drive so you can share over its OS X coun­ter­part, and has 38 tem­plates for posters, col­lages, cards and so on. Th­ese are down­loaded the first time you use them, so they’re out of reach if you don't have a Wi-Fi or 3G con­nec­tion. In that case, you'll have to start with the land­scape or por­trait blank pages, or an empty can­vas of your own siz­ing. Nik Rawl­in­son

At £2.99, Pix­el­ma­tor is an ab­so­lute steal, and a re­ally great choice for iPad pho­toedit­ing on a bud­get.

The Pix­el­ma­tor in­ter­face is greatly in­flu­enced by Ap­ple's iWork apps and feels im­me­di­ately fa­mil­iar.

Layer support (with opac­ity and blend con­trol) make Pix­el­ma­tor a pow­er­ful edit­ing tool.

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