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Learning to use Pixelmator to Replace Photoshop

PixelMatorIconA week ago I was downtown drinking coffee outside of the local cafe bar and my dog yanking on her leash to get over and see another dog walking by jolted the table I was sitting at and spilled my coffee all over my 4 year old 15″ MacBookPro and by noon on Thursday I decided the old machine was no longer worth the time, money, and energy to fix so I went online ordered a new machine and picked it up at the Danbury Apple Store around 7pm and by 11pm that evening I was up and running on the new Mac thanks to how the Apple Migration Assistant work with Apple’s Time Machine.

That said one thing that did not survive the move was my Adobe CS3 suite of tools of which I regularly used  Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Photoshop and occasionally Illustrator and I just wasn’t too keen about paying Adobe $50 a month ($599.88 per year) for the new Adobe Creative Cloud set of apps. I had already planned on phasing out Dreamweaver and replacing it with Coda 2 but I had no idea at all about what to do about replacing Photoshop and Fireworks so I did a little bit of Googling around and a bunch of possible replacement but settled on looking at two in particular.

The first program I looked at was Sketch | The designer’s toolbox ($79) which I’ll talk about at a later date and the second was Pixelmator ($29.99) and I’m pretty impressed and will buying both but I want to quickly look at what I did in just a couple of hours of fooling around with PixelMator  and ask my artist friends what they think of the “sketches” I did using PixelMator for an acrylic watercolor painting I planning on doing sometime this month to jumpstart my dormant painting interest again.

Years ago an ex-girlfriend of mine took a photo of her two St. Bernards on a walk at Croton Point Park that I thought was just a great shot although it had some terrible technical flaws as a photograph but would make a great subject for a painting one day. The original photo looks like this…

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So needing to put these new drawing and illustration programs through their paces I choose to work out “sketching out” the painting I wanted to do based on that photo. As an artist and stage designer I always “sketched out” sever possible ideas for anything I did before actually getting into the real work of executing the painting or design. In only a matter of a few hours I worked up these three mockup sketches for possible painting to teach myself PixelMator and I wondering both what my artist’;’s friends think of the possible compositions and also what they think about using a computer tool like PixelMator to help you map out and plan a traditional “analog” painting.

The first version, sort of Hopperish but the sky needs work. It looks muddy. But knowing how I would deal with it on the gesso & pumice 32″ x 24″ boards I paint on I like how it looks.

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For the second version I found a overcast sky photo that I then tweaked with some filters, adjusted the satiation and contrast on to make it look like a late afternoon sky.

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The third and last sketch (so far) I went with a late afternoon pretty blue eastern sky with scattered clouds and put in a moon too.

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I like them all and plan to paint each one of them (plus some other ideas I have running around in my head too) but I think I like the first two the most and just speculating wildly I’m thinking my old girl friend would prefer the last one.

But again I wondering what all my artist friends think of the subject matter, composition, color etc. and also what they think of the idea and techniques of using a computer imaging tool to layout and plan a painting.

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For those that are interested to when I get into the actual painting using acrylic watercolor technique I work on a variety of surfaces but one of my favorites are masonite boards (in this case1/4″ thick 32″ wide x 24″ tall) that I prepare with several coats of a mix of gesso, white glue, and pumice that I sand lightly between coats.

As for my approach I’ll have Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth (think Christina’sWorld) and the work and lessons of ColorChoices_QuillerStephen Quiller in my head. Quiller’s book Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory has been a bible to me for years not just in painting but in making all sorts of color choices on stages, restaurants, nightclubs, and residential homes I have worked on over the years.

(More to come on both these paintings and PixelMator and Sketch as illustration and photo editing tools for the Macintosh and iOS platforms.)

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