Sometimes things that seem like they should be difficult are actually very easy, and sometimes the opposite is true. Things that seem like they should be easy are actually very difficult. You would assume that editing images for the web would be easy, yet that’s not always the case.
The more we progress through this digital age, the more important image editing becomes. Before, only people who worked in photography or printing needed good image manipulation, but now everyone needs it. It’s so much easier to save photos digitally than in physical snapshots, and manipulating them has never been easier.
However, the cheaper programs that exist really aren’t the best for manipulating those photos. They do the job of cropping, brightening, enlarging, reducing, exporting, etc. But something is lost in translation. Mac supplies the application Preview with its OS X, but while it can reduce file size and crop, you lose a little bit of the image in the process. This is especially true if your’e working with screenshots that have text, as I’m often doing with images here at Make Tech Easier.
Experienced graphic designers and photographers use Adobe Photoshop, but it can be a very costly program. Windows users use GIMP, but it doesn’t work the best on Macs. After much research, trial, and error, I finally found a program that does for Macs what GIMP does for Windows. Pixelmator is the poor man’s Photoshop, but there isn’t anything I need it to do that it can’t.
Let’s start with this image I snapped of the Pixelmator website. When I first open the image in Pixelmator, I get a chance to see all the great tools, many of which I’ll never even need. They’re actually very similar to Photoshop, with selecting tools, painting tools, and retouching tools. Anyone who has used Photoshop will be familiar with these. It also works in layers, just as Photoshop does.
What I need to do is edit photos to make them small enough for the web, yet still retain the sharpness so that I still have the quality once it’s added to the website, Pixelmator gives me all the tools I need to do that and more. I just need to crop the image, and use the Sharpen tool on anything that looks like I might be in danger of losing it. I then just need to adjust the size and Export to the Web. In the resulting dialog box, I can choose the image quality.
The best part about Pixelmator is that it’s a native Mac application. Instead of fighting through Windows options, everything here is meant specifically for the Mac, Snow Leopard and later to be exact, and it also works with Photoshop files, as well as iPhoto, Aperture, and Automator. You can download a free trial at the website www.pixelmator.com, and that’s good for thirty days. The price of the application, either through the website or the App Store, is costly at $29.99, but it’s still hundreds of dollars cheaper than Photoshop. Additionally, they’re coming out with a big update soon and are promising that anyone who buys the current version will get the update for free.