Trying Out Useful Mac Apps

I decided after trying the demo for 15 days or so to buy Pixelmator as it does what I want fairly quickly.

Affinity Photo was a complete wash-out for me in functionality mostly because of its abysmal selection tools. I would scan something in, usually a playing card or similar and it could not select it from the background so I could copy and paste it on a new layer. I tried all kinds of ways and the edges were all raggedy with chunks chewed out all the way around. In Photoshop CS5 which I owned on my old Windows laptop, this was very easily done with one click of the Magic Wand with tolerance set at 65%. After two weeks of frustration I gave up and tried another program.

The other thing Affinity wouldn’t do without some very convoluted steps that didn’t seem to work as outlined in the tutorial, was to put a simple frame on my image. I often post images online and if the background is pale it needs a simple 8 to 20 pixel border to show up nicely on a blog background. I can’t believe Affinity can’t do this.

The third thing is that it does a hazy sort of drop shadow but there is little control over it and it looks okay but not ideal. Okay, it’s a small thing but I use that facility every day and it got completely frustrating.

So, after that frustration I tried out Pixelmator before committing to buy it.

– Selection tools are much better. I have had great success using the Magnetic Lasso loosely around the edge and then clicking Refine and checking the box for Smart Refine. Almost 100 % accuracy and if not I could add or subtract easily from the selection. The Magic Wand is pretty good too with the tolerance set higher.

– To put a frame on you Select All and Stroke however many pixels you want in whatever colour. For my purposes this was adequate and very fast.

– For drop shadows in Pixelmator you can duplicate the object on a separate layer, pull this layer below the object layer, fill the duplicate object with black, add a gaussian blur, and offset it and drop the opacity. Sounds complicated but it gives you a lot of control over shadows and they look good. Miles better than anything Affinity offers and comparable to the Photoshop drop shadow but with more control.

Here’s an example of a fine drop shadow in Pixelmator that looks pretty good.

Beetle1_sm

This particular beetle was a WMF file from an old, old clip art CD I own.  I am currently trying out a program called WMF Converter Pro to facilitate browsing my CDs and converting WMFs to a readable format for the Mac. I’m not sure if I want to do batch file conversions, but at least for single conversions and thumbnail previews this program seems to work. The only unfortunate thing is that it has a black interface that is horrible. This beetle was converted as a PDF and was a bit glitchy due to the file size. I’ll try the EPS format and see if that works better to keep the vector properties without locking up Pixelmator with file size. PDFs can be a bit tricky in other programs, so it might simply be that.

I tried saving another WMF file as a PNG and this is what I got, which is great for my purposes.

Beetle_sm

I want to try further things with the program because it’s $30 to buy and I want to be sure it can do what I want. After the Affinity Photo disaster I want to make sure I put it through all scenarios.

My other two experiments were with the apps Color Palette Converter and Color Palette from Image.  I get frustrated with the Apple colour picker and although I have saved my own swatches at the bottom of the picker, I wanted something to convert .aco files, and then something to get colours from an image, which is something I use a lot.

– Open an image in Color Palette from Image which I bought at a discount for $1.39 I think. Generate a palette up to 20 colours. You can also adjust the Gamma setting to moderate the tones of swatches which is a nice feature without getting complicated. Save it.

– Open this palette in Color Palette Converter and you can save it to the Color folder in the Library file. I suppose I could do this manually but for $2.79 this program makes it easier.

Here’s an example of a palette generated from a photograph of a purse I made.

RunaroundPalette_sm

These palettes are now in a drop-down list in the Apple colour picker and I can choose them quickly and get exactly the colours I want. This might be most useful for people designing web pages, but I just like that I can get the colours and tones I want without trying to sample them individually, plus they are always available across programs.

Not bad for a total of about $4 for these two simple colour apps.

I’m really sorry I bought Affinity Photo, but they are working on a 1.6 version upgrade and I know that will allow you to change the black interface at least. Here’s hoping they improve other simple tasks as well, because I hate to give up on a program I paid for.

I am thankfully getting over the shock of switching from Windows and getting used to the way the Mac does things, and the various functions and apps available for it.

 

 

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