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Review: Pixelmator for iPad is an affordable image editor that packs a powerful punch

Lesa Snider | Nov. 19, 2014
You’d be hard pressed to find a more powerful iPad image-editing app than Pixelmator for iPad.

Tap and hold any item to reveal a menu with options to cut, copy, delete, or duplicate. For more customization, tap the left edge of your to screen reveal the layers your image contains. Tap a layer to activate it and then drag your finger up or down to rearrange it in the layer stack. Tap the layer again (or double tap it) to reveal a menu that lets you cut, copy, delete, hide, duplicate, or change its style. Tapping the latter summons a menu with opacity control, a set of 26 blending modes (for changing the way color blends across layers), and customizable fill, stroke, shadow, and reflection options. Tapping the left side of your screen again toggles the layers bar off so you can edit in full-screen glory.

Tons of tools and effects
You can tap the Tools menu (hint: it looks like a paintbrush) at upper right for even more options. If text is active, you'll see a nice array of formatting settings: font, size, color, bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, horizontal and vertical alignment, and line spacing. The same styles are accessible through the layers bar, and an arrange menu lets you scoot items up or down in your layer stack, or lock them so they can't be moved. If a shape is active, you'll have access to style and arrange menus, too, though the latter also includes rotation and size controls.

Tap the Tools menu while a photo is active and you'll get access to a multitude of paint and erase tools (eight different categories with 12 brush styles each) and nine retouching tools (repair, lighten, darken, smudge, sharpen, soften, fix red-eyes, saturate, and desaturate). Simply tap a tool to activate it and use your finger to apply it to your photo. The tool's name, and its strength, appears at upper right.

Tap Adjust Colors in the Tools menu to reveal eight creative color presets (vibrant, rich, warm, rosy, sepia, bright, matte, black and white), a live histogram with individual sliders for adjusting shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, along with brightness, contrast, and saturation. Click Apply when finished, or tap the Cancel, Undo, or Revert to Original buttons that appear at upper left.

Also in the Tools menu is the Add Effects command, summoning 14 effect categories: blur, sharpen, vignette, noise, hue and saturation, vintage, black and white, light leak, bokeh (specular highlights), miniaturize (like a tilt-shift lens), focus (for shallow depth of field effects), bump (for a bulge effect), pinch (for a shrink effect), and kaleidoscope. Each category contains several customization options.

If you want to change part of an image, instead of the whole thing, tap the Tools menu's Selection command. In Free Selection mode, you can use your fingers to draw a selection or tap the screen to create straight selections. Other selection methods include elliptical and rectangular tools, a Magic Wand for selecting by color, and a Paint Selection that lets you paint atop an area in order to select it. All tools let you add to or subtract from the selection, as well as soften it using the Refine button (think feathering). Handy onscreen instructions help you along during the selection process. Once you've created a selection, you can use any of the program's tools to affect that one area, although there is no masking ability.


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