The Pixelmator team is relentless, releasing significant updates to the application every few months. Version 3.2 (codenamed ‘Sandstone’) is no exception and can be downloaded from the Mac App Store now. Codenamed Sandstone, this iteration adds a majorly-revamped Repair Tool, 16-bit channel editing for all Macs (not just the Mac Pro) alongside a whole bucket of other improvements.

The Repair Tool now uses color-correction to match repaired areas seamlessly. It also has clever smarts that mean you don’t have to precisely select an object anymore, the software will remove the whole object automatically. Pixelmator will also try its best to infer the structure of the background area, for a more natural final edit.

The Repair Tool now has three different options, Quick, Standard and Advanced. Quick is meant for small blemishes, whereas Standard and Advanced tackle the removal of larger objects from a scene. It’s not exactly clear under what circumstances you are supposed to change mode, so I chose ‘Advanced’ every time in my testing and the results were fantastic. It’s sort of like magic. You can see an example of what this is capable of after the break …

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You can see from the example above that I removed some of the painting’s details as well as the gallery label in just a few minutes. I didn’t use anything but the Repair tool to do it either. If you didn’t know what the original looked like, you wouldn’t think the edited image had been doctored. It’s a really cool feature that is accessible to anyone — you don’t have to be a professional photographer to benefit from this.

Aside from the Repair tool, an interesting addition in Pixelmator 3.2 is the ability to edit 16-bit images on any Mac. In version 3.1, this was limited to the Mac Pro only for performance reasons. It’s unclear what changed technically to allow this to occur, but professional users of the app will no doubt enjoy the functionality. You can also convert between 8 and 16-bit files in the ‘Image’ dropdown menu.

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Another big feature for 3.2 is a long-awaited locked layers feature. This allows you to prevent further changes to a set of layers at any point in the editing process and really helps with productivity. This is a very helpful enhancement. After working on an element of an image, lock the layer to prevent further accidental changes and focus on the rest of the photo. You can disable interaction on any layer through the context menu or the convenient ‘/’ (forward-slash) keyboard shortcut. Locked layers are a staple feature of other image editors, so this may help some Photoshop users finally make the jump to Pixelmator.

Other improvements include a new way to make shapes with the selection tool, a clearer diameter adjustment control for brushes, and the usual handful of performance improvements and bug fixes.

Pixelmator costs $29.99 from the Mac App Store. As always, existing customers can update to version 3.2 for free.

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