Which of these applications should I buy?

I’m working on a Scrivener-powered blog at the moment. I need to invest a little time and money in an application which will allow me to produce the web graphics I need for the site.

Has anyone used either Pixelmator or Acorn? I don’t want to buy anything from Adobe*. My experiences over the past year with buying from smaller developers (Scrivener, Coda, Remote Buddy) have been so rewarding that I want to keep the momentum going.

* And my attention span is too short for GIMP.


I never tried the software you mentioned (except for GIMP), so I am not sure about which kind of Web graphic you need (vector, pixel>photo?), though it seems to be something like pixel based graphic.

Several years ago I said good-bye to Adobe (though Photoshop was wonderful), and I get along very well with GraphicConverter, now ver. 6.02. It is worth its money anyway.

As for vector based graphic, I am quite satisfied with Intaglio, which is more than a toy and could replace almost all I did with Freehand in the earlier days.

Hope that helps a bit,

There’s an excellent comparison of the “new breed” of image/photo editors here:

jonwhipple.com/blog/2007/10/29/i … verything/

Thanks for the reviews and the links.

Pixelmator looks great, I will try it (though satisfied with the reasonable but not-so-sexy GraphicConverter). Acorn seems a bit toyish – and since I hate the up-to-date Mail-like window I won’t even try it. DrawIt has the same problem – horrible interface for Graphic Designers (which I used to be before my return to archaeology). Still, the price tag being so different to Intaglio makes it a reasonable choice. Still, although I do not like scripting in AppleScript, it is easy in Intaglio, and I am certainly not going to learn another Scripting language to use in DrawIt just to use a few bucks. Perhaps, I will give DrawIt a very small chance on my computer…

Interesting posts, I am looking forward to using Pixelmator.


I tested both extensively and Acorn won hands down. It was faster and the ability to script (and thus have others create filters and other features not included in the base application) is a bonus as well.

I actually thought Pixelmator was a bit “toyish” and found it odd that you said this about Acorn. The dark palettes became hard to use for me after a few minutes. Acorn just seemed to work. I don’t think either are perfect though. You may have a look at a free while in beta app. called ChocoFlop as well.

I’ve given both Acorn and Pixelmator a try. Basically I wanted something for the MacBook that would let me do basic diagram touch-up and such for my researches. I found both to be severely lacking in even the basics. Granted I’ve been using Photoshop like another hemisphere of my brain for nearly a decade now, so I am a touch spoiled. Pixelmator was probably the most frustrating because it tries to look and act like Photoshop, but with a nearly comedic level of shallowness. A levels tool that doesn’t let you adjust individual channels? Acorn was just too—weird for my taste. Interface problems basically. I like having tools spread out, not all contained in one box. I’ll admit I didn’t play with it as much because I just found the interface too restricting.

GIMP is really the best option I think, still. While it lacks some of Photoshop’s more advanced tools, and a degree of polish (though I do prefer GIMP’s admittedly non-standard interface philosophy to CS3), it is enormously powerful; and free.


I couldn_t stop playing around with all three apps this evening.
All are immature, any lacks at least one crucial feature – as most new applications do.

Acorn: no, I don’t like the interface.
Pixelmator: Exact Photoshop Copy on the surface, disappointing whenever it turns out that it does not have the power of Photoshop. Still OK for modest jobs.
DrawIt: The interface was enjyoyable, I did not expect that.

I think, a combination of DrawIt and GraphicConverter can fill most gaps that Photoshop leaves (I long for gradation curves and sometimes need the CMYK though), and DrawIt is not expensive.

I would go the DrawIt line, try a bit more, buy perhaps and – if it turns out that one of the other apps made better progress, the money for DrawIt was a good investment for a year at least.

Besides, I use Aperture to keep track of my digital images and use it for image correction. So if you work with Aperture, one of those other applications seems a nice completion of features that needed Photoshop or GC yet.

Have fun!


I am considering http://www.lightcrafts.com/products/ for pixel image editing on my future Leopard Mac. It is by no means a toy but I have always found the zone system easier to grasp in practice than gradation curves. LZ indicates which parts of your photos correspond to which zone and lets you manipulate them. Coupled with the fact that you can restrict its actions to definable areas of the picture it looks it may cater 90% of my day to day image editing needs.

When I learned that Adobe will not support CS2 (which I own) on Leopard I could not believe it. What are they thinking? No support for an expensive software suite that was sold until very recently? I am not amused.

On the other hand, what alternatives are there for Illustrator and Acrobat? If anybody can recommend something I’d loved to hear that.



A year ago I tested LightZone and liked it very much. At the same time, I was looking for an administration app for my photos and decided for Aperture which offers comparable features. Since LZ is even more expensive and lacks the data administration parts, I decided for Aperture. Aperture is not perfect, but it works very well for me, and I am happy to have an opportunity now to find my photos. Even with Spotlight since the IPTC data are embedded. (Another reason to use GC on a small iBook: it deals with IPTC and XMP, now even in Unicode, so information is never lost).

I checked Lightroom as well, which might be another alternative with similar additional features, and it had some advantages over Aperture. But I don’t buy Adobe products. I was shocked to read your mail, that Photoshop and Illustrator won’t be upgraded for Leopard. Unbelievable, and what a way to treat customers!

As for Illustrator, there are some similar applications, I decided for Intaglio. If you look for Intaglio on Versiontracker, you will also find the alternatives. I am very satisfied with Intaglio and the responsive developer. But the other apps seems quite well done as well. It is like with Freehand and Illustrator in the old days: Both were excellent, and despite some small difference in features it was mostly a decision of taste. I used Freehand, and sometimes today, when I have to open an old file, I am overwhelmed how much Freehand offered – and how easy things are nowadays.


Welcome to the corporate world, where everything (EVERYTHING) is about money. The buyer says, “Why won’t they do a little update to allow this very expensive program I own to work on Leopard?” But the corporate executives say, “Why bother updating an older version of our software to work with Leopard when we have newer versions out to work on?”

On the plus side, while CS2 isn’t ‘officially’ supported under Leopard, word on the street is that it seems to work okay most of the time anyway. I’ve been using CS1, and so far the only problem I’ve run across is funky weirdness when trying to enter values in the Crop tool. Can’t say personally for CS2, but that’s what I’ve heard.

@ fldsfslmn –

I don’t really know your needs regarding graphics, but in my case, regarding web graphics, I mostly use two applications:

Skitch (still on beta; a wonderful program)

ImageWell (there are two versions, a freeware and a shareware one)

Maybe these will be useful to you.

CS2 works fine on Leopard for me (G5 iMac).

A notable alternative to Illustrator that’s been around for a while, has a lot of very good press/reviews, and is 10.5 compatible is Freeverse’s Lineform.

While I have a full license for the Adobe Creative Suite CS3, I – like others before me – would suggest Intaglio for anything not absolutely requiring Illustrator and Photoshop for drawing. It has a good set of features, and is very pleasant to use.


I’ve got to throw in a vote for OmniGraffle as a drawing app. It’s the one I use almost all the time. For photos, I’ve gone for LightRoom … I tried Aperture but it just didn’t want to work the same way as me. I would love to have LightZone, I tried it and it was great, but I have the problem of finding the schekels … RMB simply doesn’t cut the mustard for online purchases like that.


Of course, it’s only CS2 versions of Photoshop and Illustrator that won’t be upgraded. CS3 installs of both programs work very nicely in Leopard. And while it’s true that CS2 was offered in the last 6-8 months, Adobe had actually been very open for months before about CS3 versions coming up.

Why would anyone expect Adobe, or any company, to update a version of a program released in 2005 to run on 2007 Leopard, when the program itself has been updated since? It seems kinda silly to me that someone would upgrade to Leopard but not be willing to update anything to go with the update to Leopard.

The end results were quite alike, but the path to get there was very different. Freehand was largely built on code Altsys used for Fontographer, optimized for making fonts (hence Aldus buying Altsys). The same graphic built in both programs would often require three times longer to rip from Freehand than Illustrator, since the former wrote out such convoluted PostScript.

Re: Illustrator vs. Intaglio, over the last few months I’ve been working with a graphic design used at sizes from billboard and banners to 2 inch tall inclusions at newspaper print specs. The design has something over 9000 individual elements in Illustrator, as well as several grain and shadow effects. No way I’d use anything but Illustrator for such heavy lifting.

Hmm, not sure. The point is not so much when it was first published but until when it was sold. There is many a developer who forks out updates to keep legacy versions of his own software running under the latest versions of the operating system.
I am saying this matter of factly, really, Adobe have the market in their hands and make use of their power, this is more or less what we have come to expect.
No, the difference here is that while smaller developers (and by comparison with Adobe and Microsoft almost every developer is small) keep their versions running, they are concentrating on useful features to win customers over. No charity involved, they simply have to. As a customer, this is more meaningful because you have a choice.

Take Endnote, for example, a reference managment software used in academic circles. For years and years new versions of Endnote sported compatibility with new versions of Word. Period. No upgrade pricing, no major new features. To add insult to injury, not even the most glaring bugs were fixed in maintenance updates - because there were none (maintenance updates, not bugs). Some existed for Windows, typicallly none for Mac users.
In the meantime, smaller developers have produced Bookends and Sente and other solutions and are very actively communicating with their users, producing maintenance updates, introduce new features in point releases etc.
I really see Endnote losing, not because I have anything against major players in the field per se, but because they did nothing to deserve holding this position for longer.

<looking back, wondering why I wrote all this>
Now that I have hijacked the thread already, let me get back to something remotely on topic.
Keith is probably the best example. Why doesn’t he call the next thing Scrivener 5 (because that is how much value he has added in the meantime), make it Leopard only and charge us all for it, big time? Not because of technical reasons forcing the next version be Leopard only, just knowing that over time most of us would be forced to upgrade for some reaspn or other.
I am not him, but from experience I dare predict that if we are to see innovation coming from anywhere, it is ten times more likely from people like him than major software producers who haven’t had personal contact with a real customer in the last ten months.

Ah, just ignore me

PS: The answer is of course:
Because he is too busy writing his novel :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m surprised people are so negative about Acorn. I loved its all-in-one interface; although CS3 is a step in the right direction, Photoshop’s interface is still the thing I least like about it. Acorn definitely has its limitations, but I think it’s probably the most friendly (and creatively designed) of the image editors out there.

Acorn also has some really cool features once you get to know the program. The ability to very quickly take screenshots and toss them into Mail is something that I use constantly when I’m designing a website (since I telecommute and need to get images to people quickly). Acorn definitely is still lacking a bit in features, but the point releases have been adding more and more as time goes on, so I think it’s a good investment.

I haven’t really tried Pixelmator yet, actually, because I was so put off by its interface. Pixelmator took everything about Photoshop’s interface that I dislike and made it worse. God, I hate palettes.

If the GIMP ran natively, I’d recommend it (it is powerful), but X11 sucks. Not at all worth it unless you have no other option and are willing to live with the pain.

I’ve owned Graphic Converter for years, but again the interface isn’t particularly good. I’ve never used it much at all.

If you’re doing a small-time blog, I would recommend using Acorn (assuming the interface works for you). The developer is also very helpful and responsive (same guy who did VoodooPad). He’s worth supporting. I’ve been using Acorn for casual image editing since shortly after it was released and have been very happy with it.

However, if you’re trying to do professional web work, then you need Photoshop. It’s a sad fact of life. Find a student and have them buy it for you, maybe.

And if you are a student, buy Photoshop before you graduate. Adobe’s educational license allows students to use the software as if they’d bought it commercially while they’re in school and upgrade it as if it had been bought commercially when they’re out. This is an insanely good deal.

Good luck finding the perfect image editor!

There are ways to run the GIMP natively, i.e. without the help of X11, actually. It is not for the faint of heart though and unfortunately, one of the best blogs with the most up-to-date information has just shut down for good :frowning:


That’s a serious shame; figures I’d learn there were ways to get GIMP native after the resource shuts down. :unamused:

I had hope for Seashore at one time, but it never seemed to really go anywhere (although I haven’t used it recently; maybe it’s gotten better).

I’ve never tried GIMP, but I did try GimpShop, which is supposed to make the GIMP interface more familiar to Photoshop users. Unfortunately, it didn’t really… I was extremely confused by it.

All in all, my favorite image editor ever was Photoshop 7. I’ve liked it less since the whole ‘CS’ thing.