Archive for the ‘ software ’ Category

A $70 Mac Alternative to Illustrator

Hope everyone had a happy 4th and saw some beautiful fireworks.

Seems like you guys were very interested in Pixelmator, so I thought I’d share some of the other handy programs I’ve come across in my time on the next.  This next one, I’ve had for a while, but never really used it until very recently, so I’m still learning it.  My acquisition of CS4 has put it on the back burner for now, but I can honestly say that it’s a good little vector-based program.

It’s called VectorDesigner, and is made by the folks over at TweakerSoft (you may recognize them as the makers of the very popular Around Me application for the iPhone).  One of it’s main benefits, from a build perspective, is that it’s a Cocoa application, meaning it’s running on the newest programming language on the Mac, and as such has much more capabilities.  It’s able to run on G4 an G5 units, but you’ll achieve the best speed and results on an Intel unit running OS 10.5 (10.4 is also supported), with 1 GB of RAM (512 is supported as well, but 1 GB recommended).  You’re graphics card does need to support Core Image, which most of the NIVIDA chips and cards Apple is using these days does.  I originally ran VectorDesigner on my 1st generation Macbook, so if you’re computer was bought in the last 3 years or so, you’re fine.

One of the features VectorDesigner offers that I think is very helpful is a connection to Flickr.  Not for uploading (those are easy enough to come by), but for downloading.  Host an image library on Flickr and grab images as you need them in your projects.  Once I settle into using it again, which will be after my summer intensive of software learning, I’ll create a private Flickr account for just such a purpose.  Very handy considering my image library currently resides on an external hard drive that is firmly attached to my desk via it’s power cord, while my computer is highly mobile.

As with Pixelmator, the VectorDesigner team offers plenty of assistance with the program, including an eight-part video tutorial series that gets you up to speed with all the basic functions of the program.  They support the idea of try before you by and offer a trail version for download on their website.  As with Pixelmator, I encourage you to download that trial and give it a run through.  When comparing, be sure to draw comparisons to CS3 Illustrator.  Adobe has released a plethora of new features in CS4 and independent developers need some time before finding ways to create versions that are as good or better for inclusion in their own programs.

A $59 Alternative to Photoshop for Mac Users

I spent a nice walk through town thinking of what kind of tip I would give to you guys today.  I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a productive walk.  And just know, it hit me.  A great resource for any video editor or also needs to make some kick-ass stills for a project.  Only catch, it’s for Macs only.

The program in question is Pixelmator.  It’s billed as “Image editing for the rest of us,” by it’s creators, and from my experience, I must say that they’re right.  I found out about Pixelmator by participating in the annual celebration of mystery, intrigue, and  indie Mac programers, MacHeist.  Pixelmator retails for $59 (US), and can be directly downloaded from the website.  It’s been some time since I used it, but I find it to be highly comparable to Adobe’s CS3 Photoshop.  The maker offer’s a free 30-day trial of the software, so go download it and give it a few laps around the track.

What I like most about Pixelmator is that it combines what I regard to be the best of both worlds from Photoshop and Mac.  All the tools you’d exepct to find in Photoshop are present, while some of the sliders and settings are more reminiscent of the shadow boxes used in native Apple software such as iPhoto and Aperture.  And some of the features built in, such as the ability to import from a Mac’s built-in camera and integration with Automator, I haven’t found a parallel for in Photoshop.

In terms of filters, Pixelmator supports both Core Image and Quartz Composer.  It’s also capable of utilizing your video card and graphics card VRAM to take stress off of your processor.

The Pixelmator team makes a large amount of training material available at their site, as well as on their training blog, which can be accessed through a link in the training section, or their training Twitter account.  If you’re already familiar with Photoshop, you should have an easy time adapting to this guy.  I’m convinced that my own rapid acclimation to Photoshop was in part directly caused by my experience with Pixelmator.

That’s about wraps up the basic overview of Pixelmator.  For a more in-depth idea of what the program is capable of, head on over to it’s website and take advantage of that 30 day trial.  If your budget is tight and you need a good, solid, image editor, I don’t think you can go wrong with Pixelmator.  It’s also a great option if you’re just expanding into image editing and aren’t sure if it’s something you want to stick with.  For $59, you really can’t ask for a better image editor.