Pixelmator for iPad
This layers-based, Photoshopfriendly editing tool really shines
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.