Hands on: New Pixelmator Pro update adds drag-and-drop color matching with Machine Learnin...

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The updated image editing app Pixelmator Pro 1.3.4 brings a new perspective transform tool and many feature improvements, but also a headline color-matching feature that resembles video grading.

One image treated to three different ML Color Matches. We used extremely vivid colors but even so Pixelmator Pro produced natural-looking images
One image treated to three different ML Color Matches. We used extremely vivid colors but even so Pixelmator Pro produced natural-looking images


The most visibly striking feature in the newly updated Pixelmator Pro 1.3.4 image editor is ML Match Colors. Using Machine Learning, the app is now able to alter the colors of one image to match any other. Drag the new image onto Pixelmator Pro's tools pane and the current image will adjust to match it.

It's similar in principle to how video grading works in an app such as Final Cut Pro X. You find an image, or a frame, that has the right color mix and ambience that you want, then you get the app to apply that to any other image.

With an image you want to adjust already open in Pixelmator Pro 1.3.4, click on the Adjust Colors tool icon. You can then just click on Add, choose ML Match Colors... and then find another image via an Open-style dialog.

Notice the thumbnail to the right. We're dragging an image of macOS Mojave's desktop and dropping it onto Pixelmator Pro's Adjust Colors pane
Notice the thumbnail to the right. We're dragging an image of macOS Mojave's desktop and dropping it onto Pixelmator Pro's Adjust Colors pane


When you find and select it, click on the ML Match Colors button and Pixelmator Pro effectively loads in the color information from that image before applying it to your current one.

However, so long as the Adjust Colors icon is selected, you can just drag an image and drop it atop the pane of color adjustment tools.

Press and hold on Show Original and you can see the before and after effect too. Click on Reset Adjustments to go back to that original permanently.

When you're working on the image, changing the color like this or then changing it back makes a giant difference. Yet it's actually a very subtle effect and it's difficult to fool it into making an image look in any way unnatural.

ML Match Colors is an impressive, fast and immediately useful feature but it isn't the only one in this update.

There's a related Machine Learning color tool that you can apply to objects that you drag onto an image. If you're creating any kind of collage-like image, hold down Command as you drag an element on and Pixelmator Pro 1.3.4 will adjust the colors of that new item to fit.

This update also significantly improves Pixelmator Pro's tools for transforming and distorting objects. There has long been a Perspective Transform tool that's been rather buried -- it's under the Effects icon, then Add, then Other. However now pressing either Command-T for Transform or Command-F for Free Transform opens up the right options and overlays a grid on the object.

It works with any kind of image objects including text. Type text into a layer, select it and then Command-T or F lets you easily drag to resize it. There are options for also distorting, skewing or adjusting the perspective an item. You can also now hold down Shift-Command as you click on an anchor point and freely transform the image as you need.

The makers claim that the perspective transformation tools are able to preserve original image detail better than other image editors. We've not seen any loss of detail, but we've not been able to adequately test it against other apps.

Speaking of other apps, though, the developer also tells us that the same ML Match Color features will be coming to the iPad sister app Pixelmator Photo in a future update.

Pixelmator Pro 1.3.4 is available on the Mac App Store for $39.99. There's a 30-day free trial version available on the developer's site.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    hodarhodar Posts: 266member
    Perhaps the best purchase I have made, was buying Pixelmator Photo.
    With Adobe going the subscription model, and threatening to sue users to do not upgrade their software - there isn't a day that goes by that I don't snicker about my purchase.
    toysandmetmay
  • Reply 2 of 9
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,782member
    I downloaded the trial. Looks pretty sweet. I do a lot of print work so I use CMYK all the time but with the newest class of RIPs (raster image processor) which the printers use to make separations, can handle RGB images pretty well by converting them on the fly to CMYK. I'm still not sure why these Mac image editors such as Pixelmator  and Affinity do not implement CMYK.
  • Reply 3 of 9
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    Yeah, I've also passed on Pixelmator because of its inability to work in CMYK.

    But it is great to see Photoshop alternatives growing in complexity and number. Now do InDesign... :)
    edited May 14
  • Reply 4 of 9
    volcan said:
    I'm still not sure why these Mac image editors such as Pixelmator  and Affinity do not implement CMYK.
    There's a Pixelmator community thread on that topic...

    https://www.pixelmator.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=15544

    The overview is that they'll probably implement a 'soft proofing' feature similar to the original Pixelmator. That would give you the ability to preview what an RGB image would look like when converted to CMYK. It sounds like they view limiting the working mode to RGB has advantages both in terms of the programming and in terms of consistency of workflow. 
  • Reply 5 of 9
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 352member
    volcan said:
    I downloaded the trial. Looks pretty sweet. I do a lot of print work so I use CMYK all the time but with the newest class of RIPs (raster image processor) which the printers use to make separations, can handle RGB images pretty well by converting them on the fly to CMYK. I'm still not sure why these Mac image editors such as Pixelmator  and Affinity do not implement CMYK.
    Yeah I have wondered the same thing. Is there a licensing aspect?
  • Reply 6 of 9
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,673member
    volcan said:
    [...] I'm still not sure why these Mac image editors such as Pixelmator  and Affinity do not implement CMYK.
    Affinity Photo supports CMYK. 
  • Reply 7 of 9
    pws442pws442 Posts: 6member
    I have Pixelmator Pro 1.3.3, but can find no way to upgrade to 1.3.4.
  • Reply 8 of 9
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    The amazing thing about this is the idea that CMYK is a somewhat new request.

    I was following this company when the original Pixelmator was introduced a decade ago, and CMYK has always been a top request. After the comments kept mentioning CMYK after every major update, the company leads basically said that CMYK wasn't that important in the digital world, and that users needed to work in RGB and then convert to CMYK. I have no interest in that workflow (most of the time), so I tuned out.

    When I saw that a "Pro" version had been released, I immediately went back to check out the feature list.
    I saw that again, CMYK support was nowhere to be found.

    This idea that I should have the printer mess with my colour profiles on every job is silly. An image editor can't seriously be marketed for pros without CMYK. CMYK was largely the difference between Adobe's Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. It's THE pro feature.

    The developers of Pixelmator have done a good job and the interface looks better than Affinity Photo (which I have bought because it can handle CMYK.) It's their prerogative to ignore the requests for CMYK if they do not care for it.

    But calling the software 'Pro', without CMYK support, is a bit sketchy.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    pws442pws442 Posts: 6member
    ... It Got Better! :)
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