Article from Issue 221/2019

Pixelitor offers the basic functions of a full-fledged image editing program, along with some useful filters and a few pitfalls.

The best thing about Linux is the great variety of available free tools – whatever it is you need to do, the open source community has at least one – and probably several – tools for the task. Raster graphics is no exception. The famous Gimp (Gnu Image Processor) is the highest profile graphics tool in the Linux space. Gimp ships with many popular distros, and the ones that don't include Gimp by default make it available through package repositories. Many users adore Gimp, but it isn't for everybody. Some users think Gimp is too big and confusing, with too many different features. Others prefer a tool that is targeted to a more narrow set of tasks.

Another free tool in the raster graphics space is Pixelitor, an open source graphics editor based on Java. Pixelitor [1] is truly a cross-platform application that caters to users on Mac OS and Windows as well as Linux. Pixelitor supports "layers, layer masks, text layers, filters, and multiple undo." The latest version ships with more than 110 filters and color adjustments (such as the Photo Collage filter shown in Figure 1). But beginners beware: the project developers make it clear that Pixelitor is "… intended to be powerful rather than simple. You should have some experience with image editors in order to use it, because there isn't much documentation available yet, [although] many concepts (layers, blending modes, cropping, Gaussian blurring, unsharp masking, histograms, etc.) are the same" as with other similar tools. Pixelitor doesn't provide a lot of hand-holding for beginners, but many converts believe it offers a more compact and streamlined interface for users who know what they are doing.

We decided it was time to take a closer look at Pixelitor and the capabilities it brings to the Linux space. But I'll start with a note on formats. Pixelitor uses the PXC file format as its native format, which should not be confused with the Picture Exchange (PCX) format [2] used with Gimp and other tools. Pixelitor can export files into the usual export formats, such as JPEG, PNG, BMP, and GIF (without transparency), but the Pixelitor developers recommend using PXC to save all internal information, such as layers, selections, and paths, and other elements.


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