Pixelmator 3.0 FX

pixelmator-layer styles


One nice surprise after upgrading to Mavericks this morning was Pixelmator 3.0 FX, a free upgrade via the App Store (Pixelmator is a steal at $15). It’s a great update, but not really worthy of a major version increment. The two headline features are non-destructive layer styles and liquid effects.

pixelmator-pair liquid effects


The liquid effects tool is nice enough — it allows you to pinch, twirl, and warp images (very much like Kai’s Power Goo fifteen years or so ago), but it’s not a feature I’d use very often.

Layer styles are nice, but much more limited that either Acorn or Photoshop. Font settings, for example, aren’t included, and layer styles only allow you to control fill, gradient, stroke, inner and outer shadow, and reflection. Simpler than Acorn for sure, but far less powerful. If you were hoping for non-destructive filters then keep waiting.


Layer styles are also not fabulously well implemented. The layer style is not correctly reflected in the layer palette (the “yellow” layer is not in fact yellow once the layer style is applied).

pixelmator-text stroke

And outside strokes are badly rendered. If you look closely at the text above you’ll see a dark fringe between the stroke and fill. Ick.

pixelmator-pair kern


Finally, something I hadn’t noticed before, but the kerning controls in Pixelmator require a visit to a menu with no keyboard equivalent.

So, layer styles are certainly a worthy addition. Liquid effects are a cute gimmick. Not exactly a major release, but great for a free update.