It might be a bit unfair that I’m so angry with Adobe. With their applications, I’ve had a successful career and made a decent amount of money. And yet, when Adobe switched the Creative Suite to their cable bill pricing plan, I became infuriated with them. I don’t want my apps checking for permission with the cloud. I don’t want to rent my tools. But Adobe’s the best, right? What’s a designer or web developer going to do without Adobe? Well, with a Mac, there are a lot of options. Apparently, the Mac App Store is the home of the new creative suite.
It all started with Pixelmator. Even before Adobe’s subscription plan, Photoshop wasn’t cheap. Pixelmator emerged as an excellent alternative to Photoshop. Pixelmator had about 90% of the features of Photoshop, but only 5% of the price. Plus, Pixelmator felt less bloated than Photoshop. With Pixelmator, I enjoyed an image editing program that opened quickly and was incredibly responsive. With side-by-side access to Photoshop and Pixelmator, I found myself choosing Pixelmator. It’s just that good!
Of course, the major drawback of Pixelmator is the lack of a CMYK colorspace. It’s been a long time since I had to create a printed publication. Today, most of my work is online – which uses RGB. For web designers / developers, Pixelmator is great. For retouching photos for social media websites, Pixelmator is also great. For 4-color printed catalogs or color newspapers, that’s where Photoshop still reigns.
The feature that surprises me the most about Pixelmator is that it opens and saves Photoshop files. That makes it easy for me to say goodbye to Photoshop, as my previous work is not held hostage by a particular file format.
With vector artwork, Illustrator is the default application. For the most part, I tried to ignore this app. My background is in photography, not illustration. Yet, with high-definition hitting the web, SVG files are becoming more popular. Instead of tracking thousands or millions of pixels, simple points and curves are used. This leads to razor sharp drawing on normal and HiDPI displays – while keeping file sizes small. But with Illustrator also exclusive to the Creative Cloud, what was the alternative?
I like iDraw. It’s a decent alternative to Illustrator. The main attraction is the low price. It’s only $24.99. It’s been at that price for years. And for $9 more, there’s an iPad app. That’s crazy. Both Pixelmator and iDraw can turn an iPad from a content consumption device to a content creation device. While I still prefer a mouse and keyboard to a touch screen, it’s nice to see mobile technology being pushed further. I’ve watched Illustrator change over the years… even decades… but it still feels like the same application to me. iDraw feels new.
Unlike Pixelmator, iDraw does support CMYK. However, iDraw doesn’t support auto tracing like Illustrator’s live trace. Although, I’ve rarely been successful with such a feature. Typically, I have to trace the image manually. iDraw is fine for something like that. What I especially like about the app is the interface. iDraw feels solid. I hate floaty windows. They get in the way and block my artwork. I like how iDraw keeps all of the tools in a designated spot. The interface feels familiar, yet modern.